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image rendering of lunar surface terrain in space with Earth in the distance.
SpaceCRAFT VR allows users to experience space through virtual reality.

About the Initiative

Texas A&M University’s Extraterrestrial Engineering and Construction Research (EXTEC) initiative is a partnership between NASA, academia, industry, and labs and facilities in the Texas A&M College of Engineering, Texas A&M School of Architecture and Texas A&M College of Arts and Sciences.

EXTEC’s strategic vision is to unite expertise to accelerate readiness. The initiative activates interdisciplinary collaborations needed to accelerate the development and testing of materials and methods for on- and off-Earth civil engineering and construction solutions.

EXTEC’s ethos is pragmatic, methodic and synergistic. Our function is to discover, develop and validate applied infrastructure solutions through robust modeling, simulation and rigorous experimentation. Closing the knowledge gaps will mitigate risks and maximize mission success in lunar and Martian surface operations.

graphic showing interlocking cogs of different colors. Center cog is "EXTEC Research at Texas A&M." Upper cog on left is "NASA" and lower cog on left is "Academia." Upper cog on right is "Industry" and lower cog on right is "College of Engineering, School of Architecture, College of Arts & Sciences + Labs + Facilities."
Texas A&M University’s Extraterrestrial Engineering and Construction Research (EXTEC) is a partnership between NASA, academia, industry, and labs and facilities in Texas A&M's College of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences, and School of Architecture. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Radical Collaboration

NASA Explore Moon to Mars logo.
Image: NASA
A comprehensive multidisciplinary approach is needed to meet the challenge of rapid and responsive technology development for the Artemis missions. No single discipline or organization is equipped with all the required insights, so the best available minds and resources must act together. EXTEC will facilitate interdisciplinary research teams across the Texas A&M Space Alliance, within NASA, and across industry and academia. This approach will also uncover synergies between the Space Technology Mission Directorate, the Human Exploration and Operations Mission and United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command areas of interest.


Dust to Structures

materials characterization development simulation rendering.
Dust to Structures (D2S) is an integrated program for In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU)-based materials characterization and development. Multiscale modeling coupled with adaptive artificial intelligence learning and experimental testing will inform and optimize performance of infrastructure elements for dust control and repeat access such as landing pads, berms, blast and radiation shields, roads and path pavers. This work will leverage experience from other expeditionary-type missions in remote and extreme environments such as in-theater military operations and deep oceanic research. Materials and methods for constructing in the Lunar environment will be products of D2S.


Lunar Surface Experiments Program

The Texas A&M Lunar Surface Experiments Program (LSEP) is a step-wise program to establish the science, engineering and materials knowledge base required to inform models and methods for building and operating on the lunar surface. Lunar payload and ground-based experiments will examine the effects of reduced gravity on fluid physics, study the performance of novel solar cells and radiative coatings in the dusty lunar environment, and examine the chemical and physical reactivity of lunar soil to enable consolidation for construction.

Photograph of the moon with lunar landing site marked alongside a rendering of the lunar lander on the surface.
(Left): Prospective landing site in the vicinity of Herodotus crater. (Right): NOVA-C lander. | Image: courtesy of Intuitive Machines

Enabling Research Areas

soil particle model rendering.
  • In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) materials development
    • High-fidelity simulant characterization and testing (inclusive of amorphous content)
    • Multiscale modeling with adaptive artificial intelligence learning at all levels
    • Predictive geotechnical performance, radiation degradation
    • Planning and requirements building for infrastructure
  • Additive, subtractive and automated construction
  • Robotics and system integration
    • Materials, power, CNC for fully autonomous
    • Testing of human/robotic-assisted operations
  • Artificial intelligence and data science
  • Sensors and embedded systems (for precision navigation and timing)
  • Synthetic environments
    • SpaceCRAFT VR is a high-fidelity, physics-based solar system simulator made for large-scale engineering system design, integration and collaboration.
  • Planetary analog studies

Laboratories and Testing Capabilities

worker hoisting large construction equipment with crane remote.

Contact Us

For more information on EXTEC, contact Dr. Patrick Suermann at

EXTEC Initiatives and Capabilities EXTEC Projects and People