SSI Space Manufacturing 14: Engineering Non-Terrestrial Resources

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Miners hoping to strike it rich during the California Gold Rush at Auburn Ravine in 1852. (Credit: California State Library)

Session 5: Engineering Materials from Non-Terrestrial Resources
Chair: Dr. Peter J. Schubert

Electrical Energy Storage Using Only Lunar Materials
Dave Dietzler, and Dr. Peter J. Schubert, Packer Engineering Inc.

In-Situ Production of Construction Materials by Combustion of Regolith/Aluminum and Regolith/Magnesium Mixtures
Prof. Evgeny Shafirovich, Christopher White and Francisco Alvarez, University of Texas at El Paso

Electro Dynamic Debris Eliminator (EDDE) Opens LEO for Aluminum Recovery and Reuse
Jerome Pearson, John Oldson and Dr. Eugene Levin, Star Technology and Research, Inc., Joseph Carroll, Tether Applications, Inc.

Building a Vertical Take Off and Landing Pad Using In Situ Materials
Dr. Paul Hintze, NASA Kennedy Space Center


Electrical Energy Storage Using Only Lunar Materials
Dr. Peter J. Schubert, Packer Engineering Inc.

– Resources available on the moon for in-situ battery fabrication
– Can make batteries from in-situ materials by robots before humans land
– 1.2 kw for a 2-person base
– 20 square meters per person for horticulture (100 W per square meters)
– abundant minerals in the soil and water at the poles
– have a robust manufacturing approach — at least two ways of producing everything
–can create electrical energy storage using only lunar resources and a production facility shipped up from Earth

In-Situ Production of Construction Materials by Combustion of Regolith/Aluminum and Regolith/Magnesium Mixtures
Prof. Evgeny Shafirovich, University of Texas at El Paso

– can produce landing pads, rad shielding, thermal wadis by using in situ regolith
– Self-propagating high-temperature synthesis to process regolith
– Process doesn’t produce dust and the reaction is very simple
– bricks, tiles and ceramic layer of the lunar surface for landing/launch pads and thermal wadis

Electro Dynamic Debris Eliminator (EDDE) Opens LEO for Aluminum Recovery and Reuse
Joseph Carroll, Tether Applications, Inc.

– ISS has mostly dodged hubcaps in terms of debris
– The problem is not the hubcaps but rather the 50 bullets it dodges for every hubcap
– More than 2,100 tons of debris in LEO — many of them are spent upper stages
– Biggest issue – 72 percent of the mass is Russian
– “The heroes here are going to be the lawyers”
– Russian stages are mostly aluminum tanks with magnesium
– Fork in the road — do we collect the stages and reuse them — or do we get rid of them
– 1,000 tons of mostly aluminum in old stages

What to Do With Debris:

Collection Only

  • ballast for ambitious slings

Cutting up tanks and other structures

  • Creates shingles for shielding and other processes
  • Ventilates remaining structure to ease reentry burnup

Metal bending & fastening

  • Allows debris & radiation shields for any desired shape

Melt-processing

  • Enclose and melt shingles: ffilter to remove refratories
  • Do vapor deposit and molted spray inside tiny balloons
  • Allows better metal properties than with ingot processing
  • Allows larger and heavier structures than heavy-lift does
  • Surplus aluminum allows may be used as rocket fuel

Electrodynamic Propulsion

– propellantless, solar powered
– demonstrated in orbit by NASA JSC on the Plasma Motor Generator (PMG) flight
– Electrodynamic Debris Eliminator (EDDE)

– If we don’t learn to handle orbital debris, then we’ll have trouble using other resources on other worlds

Building a Vertical Take Off and Landing Pad Using In Situ Materials
Dr. Paul Hintze, NASA Kennedy Space Center

– Landings and launches from moon kicks up dust, erodes surfaces
– Lunar dust and regolith are very coarse, abrasive
– Apollo 12 brought back the Surveyor 3 camera – found that lunar material had sand blasted the vehicle
– Need dust free areas for habitation and science

Polymer Palliatives
– spray polymers on it, spray it with water — helps to stabilize materials
– don’t need a lot of heat to cure — commercially available products
– disadvantages — mass, consumable and vacuum sensitive
– researching ways to spray polymers on the moon and to limit the mass involved

Sintering or Melting
–Sintering is a method of making solid objects from a powder by heating up the material until its particles adhere to each other
– Particle size, density and packing of regolith are ideal for sintering
– Microwave sintering can be used
– Use in-situ resources
– One or all phases can melt
– Depending on cooling rate, recrystallization will occur (material will be quite strong and not fragile like glass)

Solar Concentrator:
– Benefits: Uses solar power, lightweight and inexpensive
– Drawbacks: direct heating only heats the surface, uneven heating, and must follow the sun

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