Mobile Continuous Lunar Excavation

by John L. Paterson, NASA-Ames Research Cent,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space III


The purpose of this paper is to explore the two main problems regarding current approaches to lunar mining and to recommend three candidate solutions which will be shown to have potentially superior performance in the context of a lunar mining architecture. The proposed approach describes three mobile continuous excavators that, for the purposes of soil fracturing, employ self reactant, or soil reactant forces to substitute for gravity (refer to drawings 1-3). The system will be shown to require greatly reduced EVA involvement in both periodic maintenance and inspection. In addition, little EVA time would be required in the set-up and relocation of the excavation operation. The resulting system will be shown to be lightweight in comparison to currently proposed systems in the literature and thus be a candidate for early lunar excavation activity.

Subject Headings: Excavation | Moon | Lunar materials | Light (artificial) | Earthmoving | Equipment and machinery | Space colonies | Space exploration

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