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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

Lunar In-Situ Volatile Extraction, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Lunar In-Situ Volatile Extraction, Phase I
A method of extracting volatile resources from the Lunar regolith is proposed to reduce the launch mass and cost of bringing such resources from the Earth to enable sustainable human space exploration. Thermal energy is applied to excavated soil releasing the solar wind volatiles and any water resources believed to exist in the Moon's polar regions. The in-situ resource extraction and separation system will be designed to integrate with TAI's planned in-situ collection and purification system to complete an end-to-end facility for producing high density fluids for propulsion, life support, and power generation. Regolith excavation and subsequent volatile production rates are derived from the baseline consumption of resources given in the point of departure mission information for proposals. A method of extracting volatiles in a fluidized, vacuum-isolated chamber will provide an energy-efficient process through effective recuperation of thermal energy. Several hundreds of times the excavation and extraction system mass in volatile product will be processed in the proposed concept per year of operation. The system design will be scalable for initial testing on the Moon and eventual operation on Mars. More »

Anticipated Benefits

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

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This is a historic project that was completed before the creation of TechPort on October 1, 2012. Available data has been included. This record may contain less data than currently active projects.