Real estate demands and the overall housing shortage brought about a Construction Tech boom in the VC world.
US construction-related startups alone raised $2.8 billion since January 2020, with Southeast startups raising $285.5 million in that same time frame, according to available Crunchbase data.
But construction on Planet Earth isn’t enough for one Chattanooga-based startup.
Branch Technology is building for the moon.
Alongside material scientists at Stanford University and global architecture firm Fosters + Partners (designers of Apple’s Cupertino HQ), Branch Technology is working with NASA on what it would take to design 3D printed structures on the moon.
The Cooperative Agreement from NASA focuses on researching new lunar use cases for the startup’s Cellular Fabrication (C-Fab®) technology. Unlike other commercially available 3D printing options, Branch’s fabrication options allow for increased flexibility and freeform construction.
Branch Technology’s David Goodloe told Hypepotamus that the high strength-to-weight ratio of its products has some key benefits for NASA’s next space ventures. Moving mass efficiently, he says, is the “most constraining factor in off-world operations.”
This will be critical as NASA looks to return humans to the moon in the coming years through the Artemis Program.
The Southeast Space Race
This isn’t the first time Branch Technology has worked with NASA.
The startup was part of NASA’s Centennial Challenge four years ago as it looked to create potential habitat options on Mars.
Testing and research for the lunar project will be split between offices in the West Coast and the Southeast, including Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center and at Branch’s home in Chattanooga. For the Branch Technology team, this showcases the region’s strength in the overall space industry, which includes a growing number of startups building in space hubs in Alabama and Florida.
Back on Planet Earth, Branch’s cellular fabrications have been building up quite the buzz amongst architects, engineers, and sustainability experts alike.
At the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, guests will soon be able to see a high-def textured sculpture of the moon thanks to Branch’s composite project.
These commercial projects, Senior Design Associate Jason Vereschak says, “are really breaking the mold from conventional means and methods of building construction. We’re bringing something unique and lively to an otherwise static building.”
New projects are on display at the Chattanooga Airport and the iconic Field Museum of Chicago.
Branch has raised just over $18 million in venture funding since 2014, according to data collected by Crunchbase. Southeast investors include Launch Tennessee, Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, and S Ventures.