Posts in mining
ESA Study of Water Extraction from Lunar Regolith

The Moon is becoming the proving ground for many space organizations. The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded a contract to study and prepare for an all-European mission to the Moon. If developed, this would be ESA's second mission to the Moon. The most exciting aspect of this proposal is its intent on demonstrating the extraction of water and other volatiles from lunar regolith. Importantly, this recent award further demonstrates Europe's commitment to space resources.

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Mining Thousands of Tons of Space Ice with Queen Bee

TransAstra Corporation proposed a spacecraft able to deliver five-thousand-tons of water-ice to cislunar space per two-year mission. This is the largest amount of delivered water ice proposed from any active group. They call their system the Queen Bee. It is part of the Asteroid Provided In-Situ Supplies (APIS; Apis) architecture. Queen Bee is a large scale version of their asteroid mining spacecraft design.

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Ultima Thule May Answer NEO Questions

On Jan 1, 2019, the NASA New Horizons spacecraft flew by Ultima Thule, a 31 km wide Kuiper belt object (KBO) that is the most distant object ever visited by a human spacecraft. By studying unaltered KBOs, we gain a better understanding of how certain near-Earth objects formed and evolved as they traveled into the inner Solar System. This insight allows us to design and build more effective missions that can eventually prospect and mine NEOs for valuable resources.

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Exploring the Kilometer Deep Ice in Korolev Crater

Korolev crater is an 81 km diameter impact crater located near the Martian north pole. It is unusual because it contains year round water ice even though it’s located further south than the perennial ice stability line. Recent Martian missions have investigated this crater, uncovering some of the mysteries hidden below the ice. Korolev may be an ideal location for a future water extraction system. It contains enough ice to make such a mission worthwhile.

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Honeybee Robotics Demonstrates WINE

Kris Zacny of Honeybee Robotics made an exciting announcement on New Year’s Eve 2018; the successful demonstration of their WINE (the World Is Not Enough) spacecraft in vacuum. This prototype demonstration extracting water from asteroid simulants, heating it up to create steam, and using that steam for launching the system up. This prototype is paving the way for missions to eventually extract water from asteroids and return it to Earth orbit.

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Hayabusa 2 Begins Ryugu Exploration

On September 21, 2018 the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced that MINERVA-II-1’s two rovers, Rover-1A and Rover-B, landed on asteroid Ryugu. This was the first time humans have landed a mobile exploration robot on an asteroid along with capturing images from an asteroid’s surface. The photographs taken by the rovers showed a beautiful scene of boulders, without visible regolith.

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Digging Deep with InSight

NASA (and DLR) will soon be breaking new lows on Mars with the deployment of InSight’s Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, or HP3 by burrowing down deeper than any instrument ever deployed off Earth. HP3 main mission is to study Martian crust properties and evolutionary history. Though this may appear to only be a science based mission, gaining a deeper understanding of Mars' crust is essential for developing any mining system that will excavate material beyond the surface.

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Prospecting on the Moon: Russia, Europe to Hunt for Ice

As part of the Russian Federal Space Agency’s (Roscosmos) Luna-Glob lunar exploration program, Roscosmos and the European Space Agency (ESA) are teaming up to prospect for water at the lunar south pole. The Russian Luna 27 mission will be entering its detailed design phase in 2019, with launch planned for around 2022. Upon arriving at the moon, the Russian Luna 27 lander will set itself down in the South Pole Aitken basin, on the moon’s far side.

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