Contxto – Whether you believe it or not, the next Elon Musk may not come from Silicon Valley but Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. To my surprise, I recently learned about an early-stage spacetech startup that might change life on Earth (and the Moon) as we know it.
Last Monday, the Puerto Rican startup Instarz announced its plans to create and launch a fully-equipped, self-assembling, self-sustaining lunar ecosystem by the end of 2020. Remnant, as they call it, is a fully-closed capsule capable of enabling humans to “camp” on the Moon.
All the while, Moon visitors will be protected from the inhospitable environment while also using renewable energy sources to power the device. There will be no need for external provisions. The unit will also be able to host up to eight astronauts for as long as twelve months. This lunar-habitat is expandable and can even fit a five-meter commercial vehicle inside.
The company expects its initial R&D to be worth less than a billion dollars (thank God!). At the moment, though, Instarz is still developing a prototype. This is why the startup is currently raising a seed round. An initial AR blueprint of the project is observable here.
Think of Instarz as a pop-up Airbnb meets human Moon colony. It’s practical yet its sophisticated design allows space campers to assemble or disassemble it themselves.
Both of the founders are based in Puerto Rico. Together, they want to build and launch Instarz product from their home country, and with good reason. Puerto Rico boasts lower operations costs and burn rates to maximize capital productivity. Moreover, the island’s tax incentives for R&D and manufacturing are quite advantageous for these initial stages, as well.
Interestingly enough, local university students have already contributed to the initial development of the project. The startup represents a huge curricula boost for interested alumni in applying their knowledge to a groundbreaking product.
Not only students but veteran space experts are also joining the initiative as advisors. Allegedly, they all have a combined experience of 100 years. That’s a great selling point if you ask me.
Latin America as a nest for space innovation
According to the company’s blog, the Moon contains natural resources that humanity could use. For instance, researchers want to extract suspected subterranean water for human consumption and use.
Most likely, you’ve seen Star Wars and realize that going to outer space isn’t a walk in the park. For this reason, testing and validating technologies in the lunar surface can certainly minimize the technical risks from these trips. With this in mind, Remnant aims to become the reference for future Moon. Instarz is also interested in pursuing Mars exploration.
As NASA focuses on sustaining human life in space, Instarz’ Remnant aligns perfectly with this vision. The Puerto Rican company can certainly leverage NASA’s goal for its advantage.
Although it is still theoretical and in its very early stages, it is certainly exciting to write about. Startups such as Instarz are the living proof that Latin America has the potential to be more than a copycat-land. It’s safe to say that the region is capable of innovating and launching disruptive solutions.