News JVTech To colonize the Moon, we need oxygen. NASA’s solution: a huge pipeline from its south pole
Published on 01/29/2023 at 17:20
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Man has already reached the Moon, but settling life there for good is a whole other story. The major obstacle lies in the absence of oxygen, which could be circumvented with a gigantic pipe. We explain to you.
Life on the Moon: you miss an air and everything is depopulated
– “Well then Gérard, are you in the moon or what?
– Well no Patrick, I can’t, there is no oxygen.”
Unfortunately, this kind of discussion happens too often, and that’s a shame. Imagine being able to board a ship, travel for a few days, and arrive at the greatest calm on the Moon as a tourist, or to visit your cousin Carlos who owns a condo near crater number 58.
Man dreams of taming his natural satellite, much closer than any other star and a great gateway to train to tame the rest of the solar system. As you can imagine, NASA has already looked into the subject, and it is not an easy task, starting with the resources. We know how to get there, but how to live there in a sustainable way? Resources are a key point, starting with oxygen.
Pour find a way for humans to breathe on the Moon, the US space agency is seriously considering going for a huge pipeline.
Le Lunar South Pole Oxygen Pipeline
NASA has been following the Artemis Program since 2017, which aims to take a crew to the Moon on a permanent basis from 2025. A very ambitious objective which had its first major milestone with Artemis I in 2022 and which aimed to place a spacecraft in lunar orbit, without landing there yet.
Among the preparations, we find a rather crazy project which consists in build a gigantic pipe at the South Pole of the Moon, and which could deliver oxygen to a liquefaction and storage plant for it to be usable. According to NASA, the entire Artemis Program depends on it.
NASA and the US government have invested substantial funds to develop the possibility of extracting oxygen from the lunar regolith (the dust on the surface) and from the icy water present on the satellite. Oxygen will be used for: 1) human habitation, rovers, other life support systems with a constant supply of ultra pure oxygen for human use; 2) an oxidizer for the take-off of vehicles departing from the Moon. This oxygen extraction technology is scheduled to be performed on a large scale from 2024 and allow direct support for Artemis astronauts from 2026.
Without this long pipe, NASA would be forced to transport oxygen from extraction points to reservoirs via des rovers. This would consume more energy than the extraction process itself, and would be by far the costliest task of the entire mission.
The pipeline is designed to: 1) be built by robots using regolith metals with minimal earth materials; 2) be repairable by robots; 3) have an oxygen volume of approximately 2 kg/hour in order to achieve NASA’s goal of 10,000 kg/year; 4) operate with minimum consumption; 5) have high reliability and be able to survive on the Moon for more than 10 years.
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