Ground-breaking technology: Israeli Startup to extract Oxygen from Lunar Soil
Oxygen is a vital component for fuel combustion and could serve over 50 space missions planned.
Israeli startup, Helios, has developed technology to produce oxygen from the lunar soil to reduce the cost of initial establishment, and to enable the colonists to “live off the land”.
In the next five years, humanity is expected to transport vast quantities of oxygen from Earth, with over 50 missions to the moon planned. The majority of these missions are part of NASA’s Artemis program, which is working with SpaceX to return humans to the moon for the first time since 1972.
Helios’ technology would use a soil-fed reactor to extract oxygen from the lunar surface, as well as other metals. Since the process does not involve consumable materials from Earth, colonies will “live off the ground” in permanent bases far away from the planet.
The project has awarded funding from the Israel Space Agency and the Israeli Ministry of Energy to develop a system to be launched in two space missions over the next three years.
The first modules of the Lunar Gateway, a space station orbiting the moon, will be launched in the next three years, and they will act as the foundation for the future space station. The upcoming base is expected to weigh thousands of tons, and the most valuable material will be oxygen, which is essential for rocket and spacecraft fuel. Since oxygen makes up nearly 70% of the weight of today’s automobiles, projects must establish and implement technologies that allow for the mining and use of raw materials in their natural environment, in situ. This is precisely what the Israeli Helios project is attempting to achieve.
According to Jonathan Geifman, founder and CEO of Helios, “The technology we’re working on is part of a supply chain that allows for the establishment of permanent bases outside the Earth’s atmosphere. We need to look at things through the lens of facilities that can manufacture raw materials from natural resources, rather than having to transport equipment to the space station in the moon’s atmosphere indefinitely, causing life outside of Earth to operate under restrictive constraints.”
Director-General of the Israel Space Agency, Avi Blasberger, adds, “Helios’ ground-breaking technology, which is backed by the Israel Space Agency, can create oxygen from lunar soil with no consumable raw materials from Earth. This will reduce launch costs, increase payload capacity, and allow for long-term human presence in space. Following NASA’s Artemis initiative, we foresee a trend of returning to the Moon, which will generate major business opportunities in the space industry in general, and in the Israeli space industry in particular. Helios, which was established during an Israel Space Agency innovation workshop during Israel’s Space Week, is an excellent example of a ground-breaking Israeli startup that will lead and serve as a key player in the global development of this trend.”
Helios has branches in both Israel and Florida, in the United States. Among the company’s Advisory Board members are William Larson, NASA’s former In-Situ Resource Utilization project manager; Prof. Bertil Andersson, the former Chief Executive of the European Science Foundation; and Yoav Landsman, senior device engineer and deputy director of the Israeli Beresheet lunar-lander mission.
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