Chemical reduction process opens new horizons in human space exploration.
An international team led by Airbus Defence and Space (Friedrichshafen, Germany) with scientists from Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM (Dresden, Germany), Boston University (Massachusetts, USA) and Abengoa Innovación (Seville, Spain) has successfully demonstrated the production of oxygen and metals from simulated lunar dust (regolith) with the Airbus-invented process named ROXY (Regolith to OXYgen and Metals Conversion). Airbus believes ROXY could revolutionise human space exploration.
After two years’ development the breakthrough came last month, during a series of laboratory tests at Fraunhofer IFAM. Oxygen was extracted from a sample of simulated lunar dust. This is a small first step, but the way towards an operational system is now clear. Oxygen is indispensable for all human space activities, and this new ROXY production method, which directly uses Moon dust could revolutionise human activities on the lunar surface.
“This breakthrough is a massive leap forward – taking us one step closer to the holy grail of being able to sustain long term living on the Moon,” said Jean-Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus. ”ROXY is proof positive that collaboration between industry and world leading scientists can bring huge tangible benefits that will continue to push the boundaries of future exploration.”
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