MLIT and MEXT decide to continue technology R&D contract for the Space Construction Innovation Project

Streamlining the construction process through press-in Demonstrating superiority on the unknown lunar ground

2024.6.10 NEWS RELEASE

GIKEN LTD. (Head Office: Kochi-shi, President and CEO: Atsushi Ohira) announced that it has been selected consecutively in FY2024* to continue the technology research and development stage in the related Project for Promoting the Development of Innovative Technologies for Autonomous Construction (Space Construction Innovation Project), led mainly by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), as part of the Japanese government’s Strategic Program for Accelerating Research, Development and Utilisation of Space Technology (Stardust Program). Every year, examinations are conducted on the appropriateness of continuing this phase, and GIKEN has passed for two consecutive years starting in FY2022, making this the third year. During the contract period up to FY2025, GIKEN will accelerate efforts such as technology development and demonstrations to bring the concept to reality.

The hydraulic pile press-in and extraction machinery SILENT PILERTM and the rotary cutting press-in machine GYRO PILER™ manufactured and sold by GIKEN are able to grip piles already driven into the ground and use extraction resistance force (reaction force) to drive the next piles. It is therefore possible for them to, in principle, operate in zero-gravity environments because they do not rely on the weight of the machine for stability. They can also handle a variety of ground conditions, including hard ground. Furthermore, GIKEN has technology that automatically optimises construction by estimating ground information from data obtained during press-in construction, and technology that allows a press-in machine to perform a simple loading test to measure the bearing capacity of piles after construction is complete. It is thought that these are able to provide a rational construction process on the lunar surface where prior data on its ground conditions is extremely sparse.

With regard to this construction process, in FY2024, GIKEN will further deepen demonstrations using a test field that approximates lunar surface sand and ground conditions based on the knowledge it has gained, and will also begin verification through case studies.

Verification build at the ground that approximates the lunar surface in FY2023

■Initiatives for the technical R&D Phase

The theme of the phase is “proposal and evaluation of rational design and build processes for construction on the lunar surface using the rotary cutting press-in method.”

Generally, construction projects on the ground must proceed in the order of “ground survey,” design,” and “construction.”' By using our PPT SystemTM*, even if survey data is limited, information can be supplemented and validity of design can also be considered with ground information estimated from actual build data. Additionally, a press-in machine can be used to easily conduct a loading test to measure the bearing capacity of completed piles. In situations like the lunar surface where survey data is extremely sparse, this system allows detailed design alongside survey and construction after a rough design so it should be possible to ensure structural performance. In outer space, where the amount of goods transported and the number of processes performed are limited, this will help reduce materials and equipment as well as construction time.

Through this phase, GIKEN will work to verify the feasibility and validity of the construction process sing its technology (see diagram below).

*A system that estimates ground information and performs automatic operation based on various data obtained during press-in construction.

■Future Outlook

Before the end of FY2023, we verified the validity of our technologies, including the rotary cutting press-in method, on the lunar surface. We carried out actual size experiments on the simulated lunar surface (dense sandy ground) where almost no water exists, and model experiments on simulated lunar surface sand (FJS-1g), and confirmed that the rotary cutting press-in method was applicable. In addition, we narrowed down the structures to be constructed using our technology and considered the structure type in preparation for case studies to be conducted next year.

In FY2024, we will carry out further verification by utilising the knowledge we have gained so far, including trial designs for the narrowed down structures and examining the specific flow of incorporating construction data into design.

Soil layer containing simulated lunar surface sand

Model experiment equipment

Profile of GIKEN Group
GIKEN developed SILENT PILERTM, the world’s first reaction-based hydraulic pile jacking machine, installing piles without noise or vibration. GIKEN Group now actively promotes its press-in technology worldwide and contributes to the construction industry by proposing and implementing innovative solutions. The innovative press-in technology provides a unique solution and the adoption of this technology has spread to over 40 nations and regions.


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