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  • Line her up.

  • Seems about right.

  • You guys good to go?

  • Alright, shields up.

  • To be a space miner, there are a couple things you might need: the sun, some lunar soil,

  • and a pretty powerful mirror.

  • Were trying to get the perfect angle with the fresnel lens in order to focus the light

  • down.

  • Were getting 300 suns worth of energy at that very small spot and that’s what’s

  • allowing us to melt this regolith.

  • There we go.

  • Yeah, were melting now.

  • There we go, it’s cooking.

  • The eventual goal is to take the water from the lunar poles and turn that directly into

  • rocket fuel.

  • But the goal in between then is going to be this.

  • Were going to take moon dust, moon rocks that have no water in them but do have oxygen

  • in them, and split the oxygen from everything else that’s inside the moon dust, pull the

  • oxygen out, and use that with hydrogen that’s brought from Earth, to make rocket fuel.

  • So that’s going to allow us to bootstrap into getting to the rest of the solar system,

  • building up bigger bases, supplying oxygen for the colonists, as well as the rockets.

  • There has never been energy and commitment like there is now for living off the land.

  • Mining for resources on the moon is no longer the subject of science fiction and artistic

  • renditions.

  • It’s becoming a central focus for the space industry today.

  • And a key technique thatll help make this whole vision possible is of course, hidden

  • in an acronym.

  • We talk a lot about in situ resource utilization or ISRU.

  • So what that means is taking the resources or the building blocks that are already in

  • space and using them for our own needs so that you don't need to launch it from Earth.

  • The exciting thing about space resources, is that they're not a destination.

  • It will give us the knowledge that we need to go further.

  • The roadmap to a future propellant depot starts with testing out robotic sampling and drilling

  • systems.

  • And that’s where Honeybee Robotics comes in.

  • Theyre a team of space engineers who are just as busy as their company name would lead

  • you to believe.

  • We have at least 50 projects going on at any given time.

  • Honeybee’s technology is very transferable to different types of missions, mostly because

  • we work really hard to make drills and sampling systems that can survive just about any space

  • environment.

  • Coming up in the 2020s, two of their instruments will fly on commercial lunar landers to demonstrate

  • early stage ISRU techniques.

  • PlanetVac is one of our prides and joy.

  • It's basically a reverse vacuum.

  • You blow to agitate the regolith.

  • And that creates a pressure difference between the foot and the collection chamber on the

  • lander.

  • So that creates a flow of material.

  • And then we have another little blower to make sure it goes in the right direction.

  • It's so lightweight that it can really attach just about anywhere.

  • And it has what looks like a little foot that hangs off the side.

  • It's a great addition to any spacecraft.

  • And this one LISTER, will measure thermal conductivity on the Moon.

  • Both of these instruments, along with various other payloads from universities and companies

  • tapped by NASA, will give scientists foundational data about the Moon’s terrain before we

  • start mining for water.

  • And roving over at the Colorado School of Mines is another project that wants to go

  • lunar prospecting.

  • We are currently in the Earth Mechanics Institute at the Colorado School of Mines.

  • They've been studying how to drill, prospect, excavate and use resources for over a hundred

  • years.

  • This is where we test out MAAP.

  • His suspension, his drive train, LIDAR, cameras.

  • And it allows us to quickly iterate on our design.

  • Onboard MAAP, there is a near infrared spectrometer and a scanning mass spectrometer and you have

  • a 10 centimeter drill.

  • Plus, a video game controller to steer MAAP through the turns on the testbed.

  • We're starting to see a shift in the industry from totally human controlled robotics to

  • autonomous missions.

  • The future of MAAP is to have swarms of prospectors on the lunar surface looking for resources

  • of interest.

  • It's not sustainable to have 60 people sitting in a room directing one robot.

  • So what we're trying to do is redirect that focus.

  • So, that one person directs a team of robots.

  • Before we build a refueling station on the moon, we need these robot prospectors to suss

  • out the best mining sites for us first.

  • And once we know what’s there and where to dig, then we can take on the next challenge.

  • In order to extract the resource, you first have to focus on what it is you want to extract.

  • And actually there's two camps.

  • Some people say, let's go after the water.

  • Why?

  • Because water will give you immediately hydrogen and oxygen, you've got your propellant.

  • Some say, well, it's hard to get to those permanently shadowed regions on the poles.

  • Why not get the oxygen?

  • It's 80-83% of the propellant that you need.

  • And that is what Hunter Williams is working on at Honeybee Robotics.

  • This is what it’s going to look like extracting oxygen from a lunar sample.

  • So we’d have a small reactor, that’s that metal part on the inside.

  • We’d have some kind of element to heat up a spot in that reactor.

  • So the first technology well probably use is concentrated solar.

  • You take the sunlight and you squeeze it down to the part right in the middle there, and

  • then once the melt pool gets going, once it turns into lava, then we turn on those two

  • electrodes that are inside the reactor and it starts pulling apart the metals from the

  • oxygen.

  • So we’d have some kind of loose seal around the outside, and we’d be keeping a more

  • or less low pressure and slowly drawing the oxygen out of the system.

  • The biggest issue in the past with space resources is that it’s been too risky but what were

  • doing here is, were lowering the risk of space missions by providing the astronauts

  • with something they can use there.

  • In case of emergency, there’s your oxygen.

  • In case you need to get off the moon really quickly and there’s no resupply vessel coming,

  • youre fine, youve got a cache of oxygen right here.

  • This will be the first type of technology that’s going to be used on the moon to really

  • live off the land.

  • So we start here, and we move on later to collecting ice and use that to get to the

  • rest of the solar system.

  • Depending on what the robot prospectors discover when they hunt for ice water on the Moon,

  • experts are looking into two different techniques to extract it.

  • The one we think would be highly successful is what we call the planetary volatile extractor.

  • We drill down and then heat the core downhole.

  • So there's embedded heaters on the inside of the coring string.

  • And that forces the volatiles to sublimate and go up the middle of the drill string.

  • And you could think about having an array of these PVExs and then going on a rover over

  • like a football field and just going and collecting large amounts of water.

  • Over at the Colorado School of Mines, Angel and his team are exploring a thermal mining

  • technique to capture lunar ice.

  • The water may be ice as hard as a rock.

  • I may have to start drilling using a lot of excavators, that becomes hard.

  • Solar power can be collected and beamed down and the water can be transformed from ice

  • to vapor.

  • It's called sublimation.

  • So, if I can do that, now I have this gas, it goes out and I can trap it with a cold

  • surface, and it becomes ice again.

  • This is a totally new technique that we don't use on Earth.

  • This is where you start thinking in very innovative ways in a different environment.

  • And then once youve got that water ice extracted from the Moon’s poles...

  • Were going to gather it up, and then were going to put some electricity to it.

  • So just as simple as you can see right here, I am splitting hydrogen and oxygen in this

  • water.

  • That’s how simple electrolysis is.

  • If now a rocket lands, and you have a line for hydrogen and a line for oxygen, you refuel

  • the rocket and then you ignite them, and then you have a powerful rocket going up which

  • products are water.

  • What excites me the most about the future of space resources is the fact that it enables

  • a sustainable presence in space.

  • And what that means is truly having an outpost on the moon that people work and live.

  • And none of that is possible without the use of space resources.

  • It’s an entirely new zeitgeist, it’s a totally new way of looking at space then what

  • weve been doing in the past I don’t know five decades.

  • It has been so challenging that it pushes us to develop technologies that we never thought

  • we were going to use and that's what the space program did.

  • It pushed our edge on every single engineering discipline.

  • Things have gone from being entirely theoretical from a group of old guys who were not getting

  • listened to saying this is possible, we can really live off the land.

  • Weve gone from those guys being seen as fringe elements to being listened to.

  • Companies as big as SpaceX and Blue Origin and as small as Lunar Outpost are really trying

  • to build up the technology to make this possible.

  • It's like sailing a ship across the world.

  • We have to sail out there.

  • We have to just explore and draw ourselves a whole new map.

  • My favorite example of like space redneck engineering is the invention of the microwave

  • oven.

  • Originally, they were doing all of this very secret, very big brained radar testing in

  • I think it was WWII, but...one of the technicians who was setting up the radar range was working

  • and he had a chocolate bar in his pocket and it started melting due to the radar going

  • off and he thought to himself, hey, I can take this technology that were using for

  • space stuff and cook my hot pockets with it.

  • So, it’s very similar to what were doing here.

  • Because were taking what used to be very big technology in the 1880s of electrolysis

  • and were taking the lenses from a lighthouse and turning them sideways, and focusing light

  • down rather than focusing light outwards to melt the dirt, combining these two processes