Lunar Surface Mining Equipment Study

by Egons R. Podnieks, Bur of Mines, Minneapolis, United States,
John A. Siekmeier, Bur of Mines, Minneapolis, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

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


In response to the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI), a large number of lunar base scenarios have been proposed by various members of the research community. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) authored a 90-Day Study that discusses lunar base architectures. These architectures include only lunar surface mining methods and equipment, which support the lunar base by utilizing surface resources. In this paper, the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Mines (Bureau), presents the results of a NASA-sponsored assessment of the various proposed lunar surface mining equipment concepts submitted to NASA. The proposed equipment was reviewed and evaluated considering equipment design criteria, basic mining principles, and the lunar environment. Based on this assessment, two pieces of mining equipment were conceptualized by the Bureau for surface mining operations: the-Ripper-Excavator-Loader (REL), also capable of operating as a load-haul-dump vehicle, and the Haulage-Vehicle (HV) capable of transporting feedstock from the pit, liquid oxygen containers from the processing plant, and materials during construction. The general findings indicate that reliable and durable lunar mining equipment is best developed by the evolution of proven terrestrial technology adapted to the lunar environment.

Subject Headings: Moon | Space colonies | Construction equipment | Space construction | Vehicle loads | Federal government | Architecture | Space exploration

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