Although it sounds like something from a science fiction novel, Cat recently announced a partnership with NASA that could lead eventually to mining operations in a particularly remote location: the moon!
Cat was one of several dozen companies awarded seed funding by the Innovative Partnerships Office (IPO), a division of NASA that encourages the advancement of cutting-edge technology with potential space applications by supporting research and development projects across a variety of sectors.
The IPO is interested in technology that Cat plans to develop for mining in dangerous or toxic environments: specifically, heavy equipment that can be operated remotely, eliminating the need for sending miners into potentially life-threatening situations.
Of course, similar technology could be used in a variety of inhospitable environments, including the lunar surface. For this reason, the IPO has offered Cat funding for two prototype 287C multi terrain loaders that can used to mine, grade, and trench on the moon by operators on Earth.
Currently, one of these prototypes is being designed at Cat headquarters in Peroria, IL, the other at NASA headquarters in Houston, TX.