NASA is looking for someone to build a “lunar freezer” for astronauts to use while exploring the surface of Earth’s satellite. The space agency issued a request for information (RFI), which was posted to the federal contracting website SAM.gov. The “freezer” will be used to safely store materials that astronauts take from the moon and plan to send back to Earth.
It’s a novel idea, and one that NASA has looked at in the past, too. The agency first brought it up back in 2020, though with the success of Artemis I last year and now the plans to put humans back on the moon with Artemis III, it’s likely the agency is gearing up actually to figure these things out before it’s too late.
Beyond just gathering material from the moon, the lunar freezer is also slated to be used for storing and transporting “human biological/physiological samples collected during the missions,” the RFI says. This will likely help transport materials that will allow scientists to analyze how spaceflight and long stints on the moon affect the astronauts themselves.
NASA says that it wants the lunar freezer ready before the end of 2027, which means it likely won’t be used until Artemis V, which is set to launch in 2028. But what exactly does a lunar freezer look like?
That’s a good question, and one that will undoubtedly be answered in the coming months as companies bid and work towards creating exactly what NASA is looking for. The space agency has made use of several different companies throughout the planning of its Artemis missions, with SpaceX working on the landing system, and Axiom Space designing spacesuits to be used on the moon.
It will be interesting to see what kind of contraption these companies come up with, though. So far, NASA says that the total volume of the lunar freezer’s cold interior should be no less than 10x10x26 inches, and that the entire system should weigh less than 121 pounds before anything is stored in it. Further, storage will need to be maintained at minus 121 Fahrenheit for at least 30 days.