Lunar In-Situ Volatile Extraction

Period of Performance: 01/01/2006 - 12/31/2006

$70K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Technology Applications, Inc.
5700 Flatiron Parkway, Suite #5701A
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

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.