An illustration of an oxygen depot on the moon by Israeli startup Helios. (Helios)
COMPANIES WILL LEVERAGE EACH OTHER’S EXPERTISE TO DEVELOP LUNAR OXYGEN PRODUCTION AND LIQUEFACTION PLANT
Israeli space tech startup Helios announced a partnership this month with Florida’s Eta Space to create and store oxygen on the Moon in a bid to make space missions more cost-effective and offer a better solution for refueling while in orbit.
Helios was set up in 2018 in an innovation workshop held by the Israeli Space Agency during Israel’s Space Week that year. The company developed an electrochemical reactor that can extract oxygen from lunar regolith (a mixture of soil, powdery dust and broken rock on the surface of the moon), which it says will make multiple and long-term missions to the moon economically viable, as it will allow moon colonies to “live off the land” instead of having to carry all of their fuel and other resources from Earth.
One of the main obstacles in sending missions to the moon is the cost of transporting items from Earth to the lunar surface. Launching rockets with cargo requires fuel; the heavier the cargo, the more fuel needed. That extra fuel adds to the weight, and this requires even more fuel. Oxygen is a vital component for fuel combustion.