In Situ Resource Utilisation – ALCHEMIST
Exploration Systems and Space Resources Utilisation
The world’s space agencies have been considering strategies, architectures and mission concepts to explore the solar system in the frame of international cooperation. Key principles are affordability, exploration value, partnerships, capability evolution, human/robotic partnership and robustness. Private sector interest in Lunar Exploration and Resource Utilisation is also on the rise. In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in Space Resources Utilisation (SRU) activity throughout Europe and worldwide.
Space Applications Services has led international SRU consortia totaling more than 28 different Partners, and participates as consortium member in a number of other related projects. The Company has been involved in SRU technology definition and breadboarding activities for more than 10 years, and now provides technology and services solutions to realise SRU.
The Team provided a key contribution to a study for PwC/ The Government of Luxembourg which identified the main SRU value chains and the technology roadmap to realising commercially viable SRU .
Prospecting is a first step of in the value chain.
Space Applications Services leads the development of a Lunar Rover Platform (LUVMI-X) with the main goal of prospecting water and other resources on the Lunar surface, including determining the existence of exploitable reserves at the Lunar poles.
Extraction, handling and processing technology is also being investigated and developed in three activities with consortia led by Space Applications Services:
- ESA’s Phase 0 study to define a demonstration ISRU payload
- ESA’s ISRU terrestrial testbed which is proving ISRU technology for the production of oxygen and water from regolith using the reduction of iron oxides from Lunar regolith simulant
- ESA’s Phase A/B1 study (ALCHEMIST) to specify and prototype the payload that will demonstrate ISRU on the moon by 2025.
Space Applications Services is also establishing the complete ground segment for future lunar delivery services, including control centre, ground station communication and operations services for ESA’s ISRU Demonstration Mission .
A further important step in the SRU value chain over the medium to long term is construction of Lunar Surface Infrastructure using In-situ additive manufacturing to support more complex operations.
Space Applications Services has led the development and integration of electromechanical systems for regolith feeding and control of a three-axis mobile solar sintering printing head to fabricate regolith building blocks. The EC project PRO-ACT will demonstrate robotic cooperation to assemble key SRU Lunar infrastructure in an Earth-based analogue.
Space Applications Services are set to offer services to private and institutional customers in this growing market.