Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Foster and Partners bid for lunar construction

This is Money.uk
It is one of the world's most distinguished architecture firms, the design brains behind London's Gherkin, Millennium Bridge and Wembley Stadium.

But Foster and Partners has been hit hard by the global slump in construction on Earth and is hoping for better luck on the Moon.

It is part of a group hoping to win a contract from the European Space Agency to test materials for building settlements on the lunar surface.

The mission, to develop a 'more permanent presence on the Moon', is part of the Aurora space program.

Foster and Partners, founded by Lord Foster 40 years ago, is now backed by private equity firm 3i and has been having a tough time of late.

It posted an £18m loss in its latest accounts and axed 300 of its now 1,000-strong work force after building work dried up. So the lunar project will be a key contract.

Experts at Building magazine say Foster's consortium has a good chance of winning, partly due to the expertise of the team which includes Alta SpA, a space technology specialist.

ESA invited bids from firms willing to progress research initiated by the Apollo astronauts in the late Sixties.

The project is to adapt materials found in space to be used for building. Earth materials cannot be used because of the huge transport costs.

A spokesman for Foster declined to comment.

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