Transfer of Terrestrial Technology for Lunar Mining

by Robert A. Hall, Wyle Lab, Huntsville, United States,
Patricia A. Green, Wyle Lab, Huntsville, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

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


Terrestrial mining equipment was evaluated for development of concepts and their application to lunar-based mining operations. The major operational differences between terrestrial and lunar mining are reduced gravity, lack of atmosphere, lack of water, wide thermal excursions and radiation. Other considerations are the limited logistics support and the limited availability of humans for hands-on participation in the mining process. The study considered the impact of these issues. A significant mining technology base consisting of operational planning, execution expertise, and manufacturing capability is available for application to lunar-based mining. This stuidy focused on the processes of fragmentation, excavation and transportation. The functions of terrestrial mining and counterpart lunar operations were assessed. One result is a data base of terrestrial equipment that augmented the preparation of requirements for lunar mining equipment. The study characterized the functions, operational procedures and major items of equipment that comprise the terrestrial mining process. This data was used to synthesize a similar activity on the lunar surface. Functions, operations, and types of equipment that can be suitably translated to lunar operation were identified. This study addressed surface mining where most needed consumables and an important material for nuclear fusion, helium-three, are found.

Subject Headings: Equipment and machinery | Moon | Space colonies | Excavation | Lunar materials | Space exploration | Thermal effects | Radiation

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