• International Journal of Technology (IJTech)
  • Vol 11, No 3 (2020)

Sociotechnological Perspective on the Development of Lunar and Martian Infrastructures Made of Concrete Materials

Dicky Rezady Munaf, Yasraf Amir Piliang

Corresponding email: dicky_munaf@yahoo.com

Cite this article as:
Munaf, D.R., Piliang, Y.A., 2020. Sociotechnological Perspective on the Development of Lunar and Martian Infrastructures Made of Concrete Materials. International Journal of Technology. Volume 11(3), pp. 587-598

Dicky Rezady Munaf Research Group of Humanities, Sociotechnology, Faculty of Arts and Design, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Jl. Ganesa 10, Bandung, 40132, Indonesia
Yasraf Amir Piliang Research Group of Humanities, Sociotechnology, Faculty of Arts and Design, Institut Teknologi Bandung, Jl. Ganesa 10, Bandung, 40132, Indonesia
Email to Corresponding Author


Space exploration activities have long taken place to discover the shape of our solar system and the way all of its components work together. The closest celestial bodies to the Earth that are regarded by researchers as capable of becoming colonies are Moon and Mars. One challenge for researchers is the mission of developing permanent infrastructures on both Moon and Mars. The testing of casting technology on both Moon and Mars has been done in relation with the mission. The material resources on both Moon and Mars have been developed for cement and casting materials. Since the space mission for human colony development on both Moon and Mars is considered extraordinary, a sociotechnological approach would be necessary in order to realize the development. This approach will play its role in making people ready to accept the advancement of sciences and technologies.

Concrete; Infrastructure; Sociotechnology; Mars; Moon;


The closest celestial body in our solar system that resembles the Earth is Moon. Studies of  Moon were done using a telescope by Galileo in 1609 (Galileo, 1610), long before humans and their technologies were able to directly touch the surface of Moon. Further observation of Moon's rocky surface has indicated that it shares similar geological processes, such as geochemistry and geophysics, with the Earth’s surface (Hiesinger and Head, 2006). In addition, a lot of modern exploration has expanded to Mars, such as Mariner 4 in the early 1960s and its return in 1965 to capture the first close-up images, and Mariner 9 in 1971 (Martinez et al., 2017).

From the late 1950s through the 1960s, an agreement was made between countries on the development of outer space—then between the US and the Soviet Union (U.S.-Soviet Cooperation in Space, 1985). In that era, another country that conducted research in space was Japan. Japan's space research activities began in 1969. From 1998 to 2007, Japan developed a security sector policy in space (Kallender, 2016). The successful launch of Sputnik in 1957 marked the beginning of the era of space exploration. The next stage of space exploration, to send humans into outer space, as initiated through the Apollo project, with its goal of landing human beings on Moon (Mendall, 1998; Launius, 2006). This goal was also aimed to respond to Urey’s claim that Moon was an unidentified primitive object in space (Urey, 1966). The claim was made before Apollo 11 managed to bring back the sam samples resulting from the exploration on Moon.

The space utilization program (mainly lunar program), as a resource, was also spurred in Europe through the organization of the European Space Agency (ESA). The SMART-1 mission, launched in the early 2000s to examine lunar origins and evolution, indicated that ESA was serious about space project activities (Foing et al., 2016). The next ESA exploration concept, Moon Village project, was proposed with the aim of enabling both humans and robots to perform activities on Moon on a sustainable basis. In order to realize the major space project on Moon, the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG), founded in 1994, collaborated with the ESA project (Foing, 2017). With cooperation among several countries, the basic ambition of the development of Moon Village project was to establish a permanent Moon-based station. The science and technology playing a role in Moon Village project was considered a means of education for the younger generation. The structure, which combined automation, robotics, and humanity, was put forward in designing the facility’s architecture for a civilization on Moon (Messina, 2016).

   In 2003, India participated in designing a mission to Moon, whose implementation was scheduled for 2008. The mission was equipped with X-ray spectrophotometer and stereographic equipment to research Moon’s North and South Poles. The mission is part of India’s 2020 vision; it is a vision for its Millennium era, where both the sectors of the software industry and the space industry are expected to promote the growth of the agriculture and manufacturing sectors (Dholakia, 2001). In the current century, suitable supply chain management encourages the space logistics infrastructure for sustainable exploration and to serve terrestrial life (Ishimatsu et al., 2016).

   The construction of space resources on a large scale has been taking place not just on Moon but also on Mars. At first, the establishments in space received imported material hardware from Earth and then, little by little, the space industry began an expansion to produce the infrastructure for their requirements (Metzger, 2016).The goal of exploration on Mars is not much different from Moon exploration, that is, to create a permanent colony by 2024 (Bizzari et al., 2017). To the present, research on risks for humans to travel in space has been taking place, particularly with the purpose of expansion in the solar system (van Allen, 2004; Mindell et al., 2008; Putman, 2015).

   The space era has long since begun. Exploration of the farther reaches of the solar system will continue to be pursued by humans. Geologically related investigations on the surface of Moon and the environment of Mars are being conducted to identify the evolution of Moon and Mars. Most of the minerals found in lunar and Martian soil and rocks (with a few exceptions) are also available on Earth, such as silicon dioxide (SiO2), alumina (Al2O3), sulfur (S), and iron (FeO). Another form of extrusive material from volcanic activity that is common and widely found on Moon and Mars is basalt (Nazer, 2019). The field observation about rocks on the surface of Moon and Mars was done for the infrastructure development on both. One of the technologies that is being developed is concretion. A later idea was whether both Moon and Mars are feasible for civilization. Durst et al. (2016) revealed that to conduct space exploration, both high levels of science and technology and an understanding of the culture and traditions of humanity are required.

   To succeed with the development of concrete or casting material that can be applied to make infrastructure on both Moon and Mars, sociotechnology is needed. New technological designs cannot achieve maximum results on their own, even though they are separate from the human component that has to understand them. It is important to view the technology and the people who work with it as combined within a system; they cannot be maximized as separate entities. Through this rationale, the essential principle of a joint operation emerges, in which it is the role of engineers to act as technological, natural, societal and cultural mediators, otherwise known as a sociotechnological approach (Trist and Bamforth, 1951; Trist et al., 1963; Bell et al., 2012). In a sociotechnological perspective, engineering is presumed to be a sociotechnical activity that leads to development more successfully than modern engineering, which speaks in terms of a strictly technological undertaking (Bell et al., 2012).

            The sociotechnological approach is important to be used as a parameter in infrastructure development on Moon or Mars. It is important to consider that infrastructure development will not only be conducted on Earth; but if it is to be carried out in space, it is necessary to review the social relations between humans and technology in the future. The use of sociotechnology in general can be done by first testing for similarities of soil on Moon and Mars and then comparing them with the materials found on Earth as raw materials for building infrastructure. This will be important in order to minimize failures when this project is carried out in outer space. This paper will now move to a discussion of the role of sociotechnological approaches in relation to concrete casting materials taken from Moon and Mars.


The program of space utilization was initiated by NASA in 1994, and some nations have participated in its international collaboration projects since then. The program has challenged civil engineering. The challenge not only relates to the establishment of settlements on both Moon and Mars but also relates to the sociotechnological aspects, mainly their technological spin-offs and methods for infrastructure development.

For the first time ever, the production of concrete on Moon and Mars will be realized soon. This can happen since a sample of Martian rocks arrived on the Earth in 2005. In addition, NASA's upcoming Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission will collect the first samples from Mars by subsequent missions. Therefore, it can be said that the infrastructure engineering on Moon and Mars is very promising to be done in the future.

However, there are still a lot of problems that have to be solved. Not only does the concrete casting technology need special attention but previous studies related to civil engineering. It also requires further research either in the lunar or Martian environments. The sociotechnological aspects are expected to be able to resolve these problems. In relation to the material casting system on both Moon and Mars sociotechnological aspects can particularly help in the following areas:

·         the utilization of the resources of both Moon and Mars in producing cement;

·         the application of solar energy for the oxide evaporation process, which is not required in casting;

·         the development of production procedures and casting systems in microgravity environments;

·         the analysis of required energy and casting technologies for the casting of building structures by applying either the DMSI or the PAC method;

·         the performance of microscopic tests of casting results by using either the DMSI or the PAC method to determine the integration of forces in the cast structure;

·         the designing of automatic robot control systems for the infrastructure development process on Moon and the Mars;

·         the designing of a concept for Moon’s colony stations, whether an inflatable structure or box structure, which includes its ergonomic aspects.


The author expresses his gratitude to Professor Mohammad Sahari Besari and Dr. T.D. Lin for their support on the technical information and for the in-depth discussions on micro-meso-macro technology in concrete manufacturing on both Moon and Mars, including its relation to the sociotechnological perspective.


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