ESA Opens Oxygen Plant – Making Air Out of Moondust

ESA research fellow Alexandre Meurisse and Beth Lomax of the University of Glasgow preparing to make oxygen and metal out of simulated moondust inside ESA’s Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory. (Credit: ESA–A. Conigili)

ESA’s technical heart has begun to produce oxygen out of simulated moondust.

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands (ESA PR) — A prototype oxygen plant has been set up in the Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory of the European Space Research and Technology Centre, ESTEC, based in Noordwijk in the Netherlands.

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Report: China Could Follow South China Sea Strategy in Seeking Space Resources

Optical Mining of Asteroids, Moons, and Planets to Enable Sustainable Human Exploration and Space Industrialization (Credits: Joel Sercel)

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine how China is seeking to shape the governance of space activities. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China’s actions in asserting sovereignty over the disputed South China Sea could serve as a model by which that nation would claim extraterrestrial resources and consolidate its control over key space assets, a new report to the U.S. Congress warned.

“Contrary to international norms governing the exploration and commercial exploitation of space, statements from senior Chinese officials signal Beijing’s belief in its right to claim use of space-based resources in the absence of a clear legal framework specifically regulating mining in space,” according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 report.

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China’s Ambitious Plans to Dominate Cislunar Space

China’s Yutu 2 rover drives off the Chang’e-4 lander. (Credit: CNSA)

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine China’s plans to achieve a commanding position in cislunar space. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China is determined to establish a commanding position in cislunar space, seeing it as a strategic location from which to dominate the final frontier.

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ESA, Luxembourg Sign MOU on Space Resources

SEVILLE, Spain (ESA PR) — A Memorandum of Cooperation to further commit to strengthening cooperation in the field of space resources and innovation was signed by Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider and ESA Director General ESA Jan Wörner.

Following the establishment of the SpaceResources.lu initiative in 2016 to promote and develop the research, economic and legal aspects of space resources, ESA and the Luxembourg Space Agency have been working together to explore opportunities for cooperation and have identified common objectives for research and development.

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Lunar IceCube Mission to Locate, Study Resources Needed for Sustained Presence on Moon

llustration of Lunar IceCube in orbit. (Credits: Morehead State University)

By Katherine Schauer
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Greenbelt, Md. — As we venture forward to the Moon and establish a sustained lunar presence, finding and understanding water on the lunar surface becomes increasingly important. Lunar water is largely in the form of, but not necessarily limited to, water ice. Astronauts on the Moon could use this ice for various crew needs, potentially including rocket fuel.

The Lunar IceCube mission, led by Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, will study water distribution and interaction on the Moon. The mission will carry a NASA instrument called Broadband InfraRed Compact High-Resolution Exploration Spectrometer (BIRCHES) to investigate the distribution of water and other organic volatiles. NASA scientists will use this data to understand where the water is on the Moon, its origins and how we can use it.

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Luxembourg to Establish Space Resources Innovation Center

  • Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Economy Etienne Schneider and ESA Director General Johann-Dietrich Wörner commit to strengthening international collaboration in the field of space resources research and innovation, during a visit to the European Astronaut Centre, in Cologne.
  • Europe must be an active player and create opportunities to position itself as key partner in the next space resources related activities and missions.
  • European Space Agency and the Luxembourg Space Agency have, together, identified common objectives for research and development.

LUXEMBOURG (Luxembourg Space Agency PR) — Following the setup of SpaceResources.lu initiative in 2016 to promote and develop the research, economic and legal aspects of space resources, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA) established a working group to explore the opportunities for international cooperation in the field of space resources.

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Extracting Oxygen and Metal from Lunar Regolith

Simulated lunar regolith before and after all the oxygen has been extracted from it. (Credit: Beth Lomax – University of Glasgow)

GLASGOW, Scotland (ESA PR) — On the left side of this before and after image is a pile of simulated lunar soil, or regolith; on the right is the same pile after essentially all the oxygen has been extracted from it, leaving a mixture of metal alloys. Both the oxygen and metal could be used in future by settlers on the Moon.

Samples returned from the lunar surface confirm that lunar regolith is made up of 40-45% percent oxygen by weight, its single most abundant element.

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NASA Announces New Tipping Point Partnerships for Moon and Mars Technologies

Astrobotic is one of 14 companies selected for NASA’s Tipping Point solicitation. This illustration depicts CubeRover, an ultra-light, modular and scalable commercial rover.(Credit: Astrobotic/Carnegie Mellon University)

Astrobotic, Blue Origin, ExoTerra, Paragon and SpaceX among contract awardees for advanced technologies

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 14 American companies as partners whose technologies will help enable the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.

The selections are based on NASA’s fourth competitive Tipping Point solicitation and have a combined total award value of about $43.2 million. This investment in the U.S. space industry, including small businesses across the country, will help bring the technologies to market and ready them for use by NASA.

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NASA, JAXA Issue Joint Statement Pledging to Explore the Moon

Artist’s rendering of an ascent vehicle separating from a descent vehicle and departing the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)


Joint Statement on Cooperation in Lunar Exploration

During their September 24, 2019, meeting at JAXA Headquarters in Tokyo, NASA Administrator James Bridenstine and JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa welcomed the ongoing engagement between their agencies to realize JAXA’s participation in NASA’s Artemis program and vision for the participation of Japanese astronauts in lunar exploration.

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Kits Designed to Extract Metals from Moon, Mars Launched to Space Station

The biomining reactors will use bacteria to recover minerals and metals from rocks. (Credit: UK Space Agency)

EDINBURGH, Scotland (UK Space Agency PR) — UK scientists lead international project to build world’s first space rock mining devices which use bacteria to recover minerals from rocks on the Moon and Mars.

Astronauts will test the devices on board the International Space Station, following the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket last night (at 23:01 BST, Thursday 25 July) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral.

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NASA Seeks Input from U.S. Industry on Artemis Lander Development

Astronauts explore a crater at the lunar south pole. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In a major step toward returning astronauts to the surface of the Moon under the Artemis lunar exploration program and preparing for future missions to Mars, NASA is seeking comments from American companies interested in providing an integrated human landing system to put the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.

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Paragon Space Development Corporation Awarded NASA Contract for ISRU Technology


TUCSON , June 27, 2019 (Paragon PR)
– Paragon Space Development Corporation (Paragon), and its partner Giner Inc., are proud to announce that they are now under contract for the development and testing of the ISRU-derived water purification and Hydrogen Oxygen Production (IHOP), a patent-pending subsystem and advancement of the subsystem architecture as part of NASA’s NextSTEP BAA Program.

IHOP is a game changing technology that enables an enduring human presence on the moon and beyond. The IHOP system purifies naturally occurring deposits of water and generates oxygen and hydrogen at commercially competitive scales. Once delivered to the moon, IHOP will provide the water and oxygen needed for a continuous human presence on the moon, and the low cost propellant needed to explore the solar system.

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NASA’s Psyche Mission Has a Metal World in Its Sights

This artist’s concept depicts the spacecraft of NASA’s Psyche mission near the mission’s target, the metal asteroid Psyche. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — Designed to explore a metal asteroid that could be the heart of a planet, the Psyche mission is readying for a 2022 launch. After extensive review, NASA Headquarters in Washington has approved the mission to begin the final design and fabrication phase, otherwise known as Phase C. This is when the Psyche team finalizes the system design, develops detailed plans and procedures for the spacecraft and science mission, and completes both assembly and testing of the spacecraft and its subsystems.

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University of Adelaide Researchers Working on Extracting Materials From Asteroids

This mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on Dec. 2, 2018, by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 15 miles (24 km). (Credits: NASA/University of Arizona)

ADELAIDE, Australia (University of Adelaide PR) — Work by a team of University of Adelaide scientists to perfect metal and mineral extraction processes is bringing the possibility of mining the wealth contained within asteroids closer to reality. But science fiction won’t become fact until asteroid mining becomes economically as well as technically viable.

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