Mining the Moon appears to be the in-thing this month. Perhaps it’s down to the success of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk’s latest space adventures, or maybe it’s simply because the technology is there … almost. But jumping on the bandwagon is Airbus with its latest partner in the form of the Mexican Space Agency (MSA), the two parties teaming up to tackle the challenge of developing the technology needed to start extracting resources from the Moon.
Rare earth metals … in space?
Airbus, the MSA, and a startup named Dereum Labs are combining brainpower, research and resources in an effort to accelerate the possibilities of mining off-Earth. The companies are coming together to work on “an end-to-end process from regolith identification and capture to extraction of resources”, planning to develop a hardware “ground demonstration concept” necessary for the extraction of oxygen, metals, and water.
Dereum’s ambitious plans involve sending two rovers to the Moon next year, using money raised through advertising as project funds.
And there’s never been a better time to target Moon mining. As rare earth metals become increasingly controlled by China, the global race is on to look further afield and gain control of another source of valuable metals extraction. The prime target: the Moon.
Mining the moon: how far away are they?
Image source: Airbus
However, the whole project thus far remains unclear, with the company not divulging any information on who will be tasked with sending the rovers to the Moon, nor whether they’ve even been built. There’s not even a date for the concept delivery.
In comparison, Airbus seems to have more of a grasp on space exploration and is moving in the right direction. Alongside its involvement with the ESA programme to have communications satellites orbit the Moon, its Ariane launchers have shown themselves to be successful. The company already possesses a satellite portfolio, with its own cargo craft even reaching the International Space Station. And, following the reveal of its rover design, it begs the question: how close actually are we to mining the Moon and extracting resources from space?