Lunar mission! Iron to water, NASA to start project to mine the Moon

This mining mission on the Moon will be a part of the Artemis Program

| Updated on: Jul 01 2023, 14:33 IST
NASA to send a drill rig to the Moon next month
NASA to send a drill rig to the Moon next month (pexels)
NASA to send a drill rig to the Moon next month
NASA to send a drill rig to the Moon next month (pexels)

NASA is gearing up for its long-awaited return to the Moon after over 50 years, when it landed a huge number of astronauts there, but this time, the mission is more ambitious than merely leaving footprints behind. The space agency has set its sights on mining the Moon for valuable resources, with plans to kickstart the initiative as early as the next decade.

NASA intends to send a drill rig to the Moon next month as a precursor to establishing large-scale lunar regolith mining by 2032. As reported by The Guardian, a scientist from NASA's Johnston Space Centre, Gerald Sanders, disclosed these plans while speaking at the World Mining Congress in Brisbane.Sanders emphasized the agency's goal to assess and quantify the potential resources available on the Moon.He said, We are trying to invest in the exploration phase, understand the resources... to (lower) risk such that external investment makes sense that could lead to development and production".

In 2017, the space agency officially unveiled the Artemis program, which aims to achieve a historic milestone by landing the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon by 2025.

In the near future, there are plans to deploy a drilling rig to the Moon in order to initiate lunar exploration efforts. The Australian Space Agency is actively involved in this endeavor and is collaborating on the development of a semi-autonomous rover, expected to be operational by 2026, which will collect samples of regolith from the lunar surface. As part of larger-scale excavation plans, a pilot processing plant is scheduled to commence operations in 2032.

Samuel Webster, an assistant director at NASA, expressed that the primary objective of the rover is to validate the presence of oxygen in lunar soil, specifically in the form of oxides. To achieve this, separate equipment will be utilized to extract oxygen from the soil, as stated by Webster.

By extracting resources such as water, iron, rare metals, and potentially helium-3, the agency aims to unlock new possibilities for sustainable space travel and energy production.

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First Published Date: 01 Jul, 14:11 IST