Initial mission ideas for Space Decentral’s SMAP —From the Moon & Mars to Vertical Earth Farms

The Space Mission Activation Process is going full speed

Suzi Bianco
Space Decentral
Published in
6 min readAug 10, 2018


*Updated on November 1st, 2018 to reflect recent calendar changes.

Space Decentral’s Space Mission Activation Process (SMAP) is going full speed and we are happy to share with you the first ideas that have emerged from the community. If one of these ideas interests you and you think you can help write a detailed mission proposal, we suggest you reply on the linked forum post or contact the listed team lead.

Once a proposal is activated as a pilot mission, the community collectively brings the proposal to life with contributions tracked using blockchain-based planning tools.

Just released — Rules & Guidelines

If you plan to submit a proposal to the SMAP, we recommend you read the preview of the Space Mission Activation Process: Rules & Guidelines that we have released for the first time today.

Before the end of September we will update this document to include evaluation criteria, how voting will work, and additional proposal submission requirements. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out on Riot if you have any questions or want to help out with SMAP.

Lunar Soil Auto-conditioner (LSA) Project Proposal

Lead: Craig Beasley

Numerous studies have been conducted over several decades on the reconstitution of lunar regolith into workable farming soil. The time may have come to automate the best of the available state-of-the-art in this area of inquiry into a small and reliable processing facility for generating soil stockpiles. The proposed device would be an automated collection robot that collects regolith, and through a series of stages of progressive nutrient, plant matter, and microbial conditioning cycles renders fertile farming soil in discrete quantities. This concept is the “Lunar Soil Auto-conditioner” or LSA. It can also be adapted at some point for a Martian Soil Auto-conditioner, or MSA. The Martian variant will be more challenging, given the iron content of the regolith.

Desired skill set: Mechanical Engineering (Structural), Mechanical Engineering (Mechanisms), Chemistry, Biology (Botany), Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Test Engineering, Project Management.

Evolution Of 3d Printing For Martian Habitats

Lead: Pratik Parab

Evolution of 3D printing processes and applications will have significant importance to near-term and long-term planetary space program initiatives. Long-term Martian missions will require a large amount of supplies to be transported to Mars. In-situ Resource Utilization and 3D printing will reduce the interplanetary material transportation needs and thereby will contribute to a more efficient Mars settlement. In recent days, houses have been already 3D printed on Earth. Infrastructure and time required for printing makes this method very unique. It begins with the deployment of a central module containing all the equipment, including a small 3D printer. This 3D printer will print the structural elements of a large scale 3D printer. The large scale 3D printing will take place around the central module. Multiple 3D printed domes will serve different functionalities: habitation, science and medical labs, and green houses. These are the essential functions that will be needed during an initial settlement on Mars.

Desired skill set: Mechanical Engineers, Aerospace Engineers, Structural Engineers, Systems Engineers, Space Architects, Mission Manager, Materials Processing Specialists

Modular “Universally” Adaptable Support Craft

Lead: Mikkel R Haaheim

Development of a Modular Universally Adaptable Support Craft composed of a plug-in command/control module, attached to a modular support frame. Other modular components would be attached as necessary for a given mission. Conceptually, this would be similar to the Skycrane helicopter (or, the fictional Eagle Transport from Space:1999); except that the basic structure would only include the frame with a detachable capsule. Functional modules could be attached to the frame, possibly docked to the capsule. An appropriate propulsion system would then be attached. The benefit of this adaptable system would be that the structure could then be near-optimised for any given mission, and then quickly reconfigured for the next mission. These craft would be intended to perform a number of functions, within and/or across a number of missions.

Desired skill set: Architects, Engineers, Generalists

Small Multi Role Satellites in Lunar Orbit

Lead: Udit Kumar Sahoo

A constellation of small multi role satellites providing lunar position system, 5G communication, lunar high resolution spectrography and space weather monitoring. These satellites would support lunar mineral mapping and identification of mining zones for future robotic missions. A lunar economy would allow further investment into space travel and commerce.

Desired skill set: Not specified

Engineering Plants For Vertical Farms Feasibility Study

Lead: Jason Stone

Vertical farming with hydroponics offers a precise way to deliver scarce nutrients and water to plants in a way that uses more of the available space in an enclosed area. These features seem to make vertical hydroponic farming a perfect fit for space exploration. However, the technique is not suitable for every variety of plant. Staples like wheat and corn grow too tall to make efficient use of vertical space. This proposal is to initiate a study on the feasibility of adapting plants, perhaps first focusing on wheat and corn, to the common parameters for vertical hydroponic farming. In practice this may involve selective breeding or direct genetic modifications. If successful, this research could benefit future space explorers and provide immediate benefits to farmers here at home.

Desired skill set: Genetics, Bioengineering, Scientists

On-Orbit Servicing Robotic Payloads

Lead: Faz

To sustain safe space flight around out planet’s orbit, on-orbit services are being developed to remove debris, de-orbit existing satellites and extend the life of existing systems through repair and maintenance. Repairing satellites, especially the internal systems and components, becomes a real challenge. This proposal would address the technology requirements and robotic payloads for such servicing operations to be integrated onto space bus manufacturers and on-orbit service companies such as Astroscale or SLL. The concept of operations envisions partnerships with the ISS and Made in Space for on-orbit construction of replacement components such as sensors, computers and other systems.

Desired skill set: Engineering specialties: electronics, embebbed systems, manufacturing, software, robotics, electrical, control and instrumentation mechanical, AI and data. Ground station or IT specialist, project manager and business/commercial development.

Next steps

Reach out and join one of the teams above, or if you would rather propose your own idea, please share it on our forum, and read the SMAP Guidelines so you can follow the expected steps in developing a great proposal.

The upcoming deadlines to keep in mind are:

And once again, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Riot if you have any questions or want to learn more about how to get involved with advancing space exploration!

Image Credits (in order): NASA/JPL, The Catacombs, Space Cooperative, Pratik Parab, NASA/JPL, Naeemakram319/Public domain, NASA/JPL



Suzi Bianco
Space Decentral

I’m a space architect, excited for what’s to come!