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ESA Team To Make Oxygen On The Moon

The European Space Agency (ESA) now has a hand-picked team with one mission - to make oxygen on the moon. Thales Alenia Space, will design and build a payload to create oxygen from lunar soil or regolith.

Previous experiments and concepts have shown that it is possible to extract oxygen from lunar regolith, which is made up of around 40 – 45% oxygen by weight. Now, the challenge is to make a workable system within the constraints of size and materials.

“The payload needs to be compact, low power, and able to fly on a range of potential lunar landers, including ESA’s own European Large Logistics Lander, EL3,” said David Binns, Systems Engineer from ESA’s Concurrent Design Facility, in a statement.

(Via DigitalTrends)

Update 13-Mar-2022: Fred Kiesche has already pointed out that John W. Campbell also had a method for getting oxygen out of lunar materials other than frozen water in The Moon is Hell:

Gypsum fed into the furnaces is quickly ejected as de-hydrated CaSO4, the water collected, and taken to the electrolysis apparatus.

The same idea is mentioned by Gallun in The Planet Strappers (1961):

Lester seemed not to hear these remarks. "All that gypsum, Frank," he said. "The water-and-oxygen mineral. But this is for real. There's no gimmick--no energy-source--to release it and save us..."

End update.

Rocket scientists and scientifiction author Max Valier described a method for doing this in his 1931 story A Daring Trip to Mars:

"...we know that on the moon there is to be found what we need in order to produce our fuel by means of solar power. There is ice, which we shall decompose electrolytically into its components, hydrogen and oxygen."
(Read more about filling station moon)

Golden Age great Raymond Z. Gallun describes something similar in Asteroid of Fear in 1951:

Drill down to it, melt it with heat, and it was water again, ready to be pumped and put to use.

And water, by electrolysis, was also an easy source of oxygen to breathe....

Thanks to @nyrath for tweeting about this topic.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/1/2022)

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