A mission to mine on the moon could be the key to creating sustainable rocket fuel.
That’s the verdict from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the ArianeGroup, which have signed a one-year contract to prepare for a space-based mission with the aim of mining regolith ore.
They say it is possible to extract water and oxygen from the ore, enabling a self-sustaining human settlement on the Moon to be built.
The organisations also note oxygen-rich regolith can be used to produce the rocket fuel needed for more distant exploratory missions.
German start-up PTScientists will provide the lunar lander and small Belgian business Space Applications Services will provide the ground control facilities, the communications and the associated service operations.
André-Hubert Roussel, CEO of ArianeGroup, said: “The use of space resources could be a key to sustainable lunar exploration and this study is part of ESA’s comprehensive plan to make Europe a partner in global exploration in the next decade.”