New era of locally-sourced resources in space
by Staff Writers
Luxembourg (ESA) Oct 23, 2019
This month space experts from all over the world convened in Luxembourg for the first Space Resources Week to discuss how best to explore our Solar System sustainably and limit costly transport of resources from Earth. For example, can we produce water and oxygen on the Moon?
Highlights of the conference included research that has extracted water from lunar soil returned to Earth with the Apollo astronauts. Hannah Sargeant of the Open University in the United Kingdom presented her work on heating the oxygen in lunar soil to 1000C with hydrogen to create water.
Having proven this is possible on Earth, development has started on an instrument to be part of ESA's Prospect drill that will fly on Luna-27 mission to the Moon. If robots or astronauts could mine for water on the Moon, it could be used to create fuel and oxygen for rockets and life-support.
Using a method called molten salt electrolysis, lunar soil can be turned into a mixture of metal alloys while extracting oxygen. This is another example studied by Beth Lomax's PhD work at the University of Glasgow. Both the oxygen and metal could be used in future by settlers on the Moon.
The first days of the convention included a professional course with space engineers, scientists, lawyers and economists followed by a space mining summit on the legal, business and technical challenges of resource use.
"All events were fully-booked, showing an overwhelming interest in the topic," says Bernhard Hufenbach, lead of ESA's human and robotic exploration strategy.
"This week is the kick-off for the next era of space exploration, we will not launch everything we need from Earth, but use elements we find on planets and the moons we explore."
ESA exploration strategist James Carpenter and Mathias Link from the Luxembourg Space Agency announced that Space Resources Week would return next year.
On Friday the Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider and ESA Director General Jan Worner committed to strengthening collaboration in the field of space resources research and innovation, including the announcement of the Luxembourg Space Resources Innovation Centre that will focus on extraction, processing and manufacturing of space resources.
Luxembourg aims to expand this Space Resources Research Centre towards a larger Space Resources Innovation Center with a European and even international scope. In this matter, ESA and Luxembourg will further investigate a close cooperation which will advance their common goals.
Over the last two years, ESA has made significant progress in this field, developing a strategy for space resources and implementing ground-based research, technology and mission definition activities that is part of its Space19+ proposal to member states.
James concludes, "this is just the beginning, humankind is returning to the Moon and we are setting the international collaboration required to do this sustainably and in partnership. We are an inter-disciplinary community of space resource personnel and will convene again next year to review the progress made towards some key breakthroughs, making Europe a leader in this field."
New salt-based propellant proven compatible in dual-mode rocket engines
Urbana IL (SPX) Sep 10, 2019
For dual-mode rocket engines to be successful, a propellant must function in both combustion and electric propulsion systems. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign used a salt-based propellant that had already been proven successful in combustion engines, and demonstrated its compatibility with electrospray thrusters. "We need a propellant that will work in both modes," said Joshua Rovey, associate professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in The Grainger Colle ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.