Friday, May 15, 2009

MoonROx Internship and ISDC Presentation

I haven't posted (or seen) much about the MoonROx Centennial Challenge. However, the 2009 ISDC features a talk related to that Challenge. From the Program Agenda (PDF):

Thursday, May 28, 2:30 (Augusta):
MoonROx Challenge: Lessons Learned

Dr. Peter Schubert & Jonathan Card
Packer Engineering

Here's some related information:

Packer Engineering Company History:

4. Packer Engineering completed a NASA SBIR program on the extraction of oxygen from lunar soil. Lunar soil, also called regolith, is 40% oxygen by weight, but that oxygen is tightly bound in minerals. Oxygen is vitally important for space operations, both for propellant and for life support. To reduce mission constraints, an oxygen factory is needed which produces many times its own weight each year. A new approach to oxygen beneficiation arose during this work, in a collaborative effort between Packer Engineering and CU Aerospace (Urbana, IL) which could produce 40 times its weight in oxygen in one year. This is a potential candidate for the MoonROx Challenge, issued by the California Space Authority, for a $1,000,000 prize to the first team to produce 2.5 kg of oxygen in 4 hours from simulated lunar soil. This work is part of a broader initiative to enable space solar power, a technology with the potential to provide all mankind with pollution-free energy for all time to come.

Packer Engineering Student Internship Description -

... The Summer 2009 position comes at a critical juncture. The student researcher will have three primary responsibilities: (1) prepare detailed design drawings and bill of materials for the patent pending Dust Roaster (image at right) which extracts oxygen from regolith; (2) conduct laboratory experiments to verify free-fall heating of conductive liquids in a rf field (the key technical challenge); and (3) develop a mathematical model of the interface between the Dust Roaster and the Isotope Separator – a different apparatus which extracts metals (Si, Al, Fe, Ti) from the output of the Dust Roaster.

One objective of this work is to prepare to win the MoonROx Challenge, issued by the California Space Authority, a prize for oxygen extraction which carries a $1,000,000 first prize. Another objective is to publish the results of this research in a technical forum in the aerospace field.