It became known who will produce oxygen on the Moon

(ORDO NEWS) — The European Space Agency has summed up the results of the competition for projects to create a technology and an experimental facility for producing oxygen on the Earth’s satellite.

The winner was tasked with developing a working prototype of a device that would extract oxygen from the lunar regolith for astronauts to breathe and use as fuel for spacecraft.

The winner of the competition was a consortium of a number of independent organizations, led by the Franco-Italian aerospace manufacturer Thales Alenia Space.

In addition, the team includes AVS (designer and supplier of complex scientific equipment and electronic instruments for the aerospace industry), Metalysis (a British technology company that produces powders of valuable metal alloys), Open University (the UK’s largest public research university) and Redwire Space Europe (a company that develops robotic subsystems and manufactures spacecraft).

The compact device would need to extract about 50-100 grams of oxygen from the lunar regolith, with a target recovery rate of 70% of the total available oxygen in the sample.

Moreover, this must be done very quickly – in just 10 Earth days, until a two-week lunar night has come and the energy accumulated by solar panels is available. In addition, it is necessary to provide accurate measurements of payload performance and gas concentration.

“The payload should be compact, low power and compatible with a range of potential lunar landers, including EL3, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) own lander.

The ability to extract oxygen from lunar soil, along with usable metals, will be critical to lunar exploration and exploration, while eliminating dependence on long and expensive supply lines to Earth,” explained David Binns , systems engineer at the Center for Parallel Engineering. ESA.

It became known who will produce oxygen on the moon 1The lunar lander collects a sample of lunar regolith as imagined by an artist

Giorgio Magistrati , Technology Research Team Lead for ESA’s ExPeRT initiative, added: “Now is the time to start working on the implementation of the ISRU Demonstrator – in-situ [in-situ] resource utilization technologies.

This is just the first step in our larger ISRU implementation strategy. Once the technology has been validated using this primary payload, our plan will culminate in a full scale installation of ISRU on the lunar surface early in the next decade.”

The concept underlying the technology for extracting oxygen from the lunar regolith has already been proven and verified experimentally.

Analysis of lunar soil samples delivered to Earth confirms that regolith is 40-45% oxygen (by weight). The difficulty lies only in the fact that this oxygen is chemically bound in the form of oxides in minerals or glasses, and therefore is not available for immediate use.

It became known who will produce oxygen on the moon 2Schematic representation of a future mission to prove the work of a technology demonstrator for extracting oxygen from the lunar regolith. The demonstrator will have to land, undergo testing and adjustment, take a sample of lunar soil material, load it into the demonstrator, which will then receive oxygen from it

Nevertheless, a prototype oxygen plant was created at the Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory of the European Space Research and Technology Center (ESTEC). This facility uses an electrolysis-based process to extract key resources for long-term manned space missions metals and oxygen from simulated lunar regolith.


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