There is increased funding for the railway on the moon

The Arizona Republic

Nasa has increased funding for a magnet-powered lunar railway that could move materials around the moon’s surface as part of a scheme exploring various sci-fi-style innovations.
The lunar railway system, which could be operational within the next decade, would provide “reliable, autonomous and efficient payload transport on the Moon”.
It could play a role in moving tons of regolith around the surface, which could be mined for various resources to be used by astronauts or at a lunar base.
The Float plan would see unpowered magnetic robots levitating over a 3-layer flexible film track to propel carts at around 1mph.
Ethan Schaler, a Nasa robotics engineer, is leading the project and estimates it could move 100 tons a day.
Float robots will have no moving parts and levitate over the track to minimise lunar dust abrasion, unlike lunar robots with wheels, legs, or tracks.
This rail system could support daily operations of a sustainable lunar base as soon as the 2030s, according to Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
John Nelson, NIAC programme executive at Nasa headquarters in Washington, said: “These diverse, science fiction-like concepts represent a fantastic class of phase two of studies.

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As part of an initiative examining various sci-fi-style innovations, NASA has increased funding for a magnet-powered lunar railway that could transport materials across the moon’s surface.

Phase two of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program (NIAC) studies has been reached for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory project, Float (Flexible Levitation on a Track).

The development of a large optical observatory in space and a pulsed plasma rocket to shorten the time it takes to travel from Earth to any point in the solar system are two other concepts that are planned.

“Reliable, autonomous, and efficient payload transport on the Moon” would be made possible by the lunar railway system, which might begin operations within the next ten years. It might be involved in the movement of tons of regolith across the surface, which could be mined for a variety of resources that astronauts or a lunar base could use.

Under the Float plan, carts would be propelled at about one mile per hour by unpowered magnetic robots that levitated over a three-layer flexible film track.

The project is being led by NASA robotics engineer Ethan Schaler, who believes it has the potential to move 100 tons per day.

According to Mr. Schaler, “Float will function autonomously in the hostile, dusty lunar environment with little site preparation, and its network of tracks can be rolled up or reconfigured over time to match evolving lunar base mission requirements.”.

Unlike lunar robots with wheels, legs, or tracks, float robots will levitate over the track and have no moving parts to reduce abrasion from lunar dust.

According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, this rail system could support day-to-day operations of a sustainable lunar base as early as the 2030s.

John Nelson, an executive for the NIAC program at NASA’s Washington headquarters, stated: “These varied, science fiction-like ideas constitute an amazing class of phase two research.”.

“This class definitely gives NASA a lot to think about in terms of what’s possible in the future, and our NIAC fellows never cease to amaze and inspire.”. “.

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