TechTheMoon: 5 new start-ups join the Toulouse lunar incubator

The world’s first lunar incubator, TechTheMoon, has just selected five new projects. All aim to develop solutions that allow for a sustainable human presence on the Moon.

Created in 2021 by regional incubator Nubbo and CNES, TechTheMoon is the world’s first lunar incubator. It offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to create and develop innovative solutions, technologies, products and services to meet the challenges of a sustainable human presence on the Moon. Because living on the moon until 2030 raises many issues, be it settling, moving, carrying out repairs, eating or even treating yourself. Appropriate and safe solutions are therefore necessary. And this meeting with the moon, Thomas Fouquet, Deputy Director of NewSpace and Ecosystem at CNES, does not want to miss it. “With the Artemis program, the return of Man to the Moon is being prepared for a long and sustainable period (…) and it is strategic that French solutions are found in the mix of technologies that will be in orbit and on the lunar surface. »

Ten projects from Occitanie have already been supported

After selecting five projects last year, TechTheMoon has just selected five new ones for its second promotion. Among the selection criteria, the selected companies must have a presence in Occitania. It is also necessary that their lunar projects meet a need for the terrestrial market, and this for economic reasons. Among the 15 applications, five start-ups were selected for the year 2022-2023. They all evolve in very different areas: training, preparation in virtual reality, human factors monitoring, energy and food. In the spotlight the lucky ones.

Let’s start with Neopus. The company located in the basement of Place Arnaud Bernard is a vertical farm that cultivates microgreens. As of 2021, it supplies downtown restaurants with more than twenty varieties of sprouts such as nasturtium, wasabi mustard and marigold. In addition to their well-known aromatic qualities, microgreens are considered “superfoods” with high nutritional value. Therefore, Neopouss’ objective is to develop dehydrated versions of these microgreens for the diet of astronauts during long missions.

In the basement of Place Arnaud Bernard, Neopouss grows microgreens for astronauts

Microgreens from the Toulouse Neopouss company

Microgreens from the Toulouse Neopouss company

tea Space Flight Institute was selected for its commercial astronaut training. In the context of the resumption of manned flights for the exploration and exploitation of future lunar bases, their number will increase significantly in the coming years, and the space agencies will not be able to train everyone. Therefore, the company’s idea is to support future space workers by imparting to them the necessary theoretical knowledge, the necessary knowledge with practical training, preparing them physically and psychologically.

Established in 2016, VR2Planets aims to develop software to enhance the operational capabilities of astronauts on the Moon through a collaborative augmented reality interface that combines: artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality. Thanks to image data taken by astronauts and transmitted to Earth, the company will be able to generate a digital twin of their investigation area. From Earth, virtual reality users will then be able to assist astronauts in their maintenance or sample selection and collection operations. This valuable data will be essential to prepare the construction of future lunar habitats.

Fourth start selected, InMind-VR wants to simplify methodological tools related to research, clinical practice and human factor assessment in extreme and space environments. To do this, it has developed an integrated software platform, enabling the standardization and exchange of research, assessment and human monitoring protocols. The goal is that these tools can be used both for research on Earth or on a space station, and for assessing cognitive and behavioral functions on a lunar base. Therefore, this solution will make it possible to optimize the selection, preparation and performance monitoring of future astronauts and lunar workers for their safety and the success of their missions.

ThermoSolar finally, she is interested in solar energy storage and recovery, a critical topic to address for the sustainability and autonomy of future lunar bases. On the moon, the temperature changes are really huge, from +150° during the day to -200° at night. Therefore, the company aims to propose a process for transforming the thermal energy stored during the day in the regolith, this rock that covers the lunar soil, into electromechanical energy to produce electricity and use it at night. The process is called thermoacoustic.

A little closer to the moon

As Anne-Laure Charbonnier, Managing Director of Nubbo, points out, “in their desire to prepare for and facilitate the prolonged presence of men and women on the Moon, these projects also have the advantage of being complementary. This new promotion from TechTheMoon helps us get a little closer to our goals. »

By entering the lunar incubator, the five start-ups will benefit from intensive support for a year to develop their project, from idea to prototype for the moon, to fundraising or commercial launch of their solution on the Earth market. They will be accompanied by scientific experts from CNES as well as space business experts from start-ups, large accounts and even research laboratories. To accelerate their development, they can, if they wish, benefit from a refundable advance of €50,000. An additional way to not fall off the moon.

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