Lunar Resources, a space industrial company, and Wood, a provider of consulting and engineering with expertise in terrestrial pipeline transportation systems, have been awarded a grant by NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. This award funds a feasibility study for the Lunar South Pole Oxygen Pipeline (LSPoP), a pipeline at the South Pole of the Moon to transport gaseous oxygen from an extraction site to a proposed future Lunar base.
"It is imperative for America to develop industrial infrastructure on the Moon to enable a permanent lunar presence. We are thrilled to team with Wood on the development of the LSPoP, who brings a premiere team to design revolutionary lunar infrastructure", said Elliot Carol, CEO of Lunar Resources.
The extraction of oxygen on the Moon is essential for lunar operations. However, the transportation of oxygen gas, is a big challenge. "We estimate that the use of robotic rovers to transport gaseous oxygen in gas tanks would use more energy to transport the oxygen than extracting it," said Dr. Peter Curreri, Lunar Resources Chief Scientist.
Lunar Resources and Wood have teamed up to lead a design study on LSPoP. For this project the team will undertake an end-to-end system-level design study of LSPoP. Included in the study is exploring the feasibility of building pipeline elements in-situ from the abundant metals found on the Moon. Lunar Resources is leading development of molten regolith electrolysis and has successfully built full scale systems being tested for flights to the Moon as well extracted high-purity iron, aluminum and silicon from its process.
"To bring our pipeline expertise to the lunar surface is incredibly exciting for us, from both the potential impact this pipeline could have on lunar development and the technical challenges we must solve to implement a project this advanced," said Mark Netzel, Vice President, Onshore for Wood's Projects Business.
Matthew Laborde, a consulting Senior Pipeline Engineer to Lunar Resources said, "The environment of the Moon is night and day compared to Earth. Specifically, the reduced gravity and vacuum environment will force the team to rewrite the rules on designing pipelines."
The NIAC grant covers an initial 9-month feasibility study and is part of Lunar Resources' lunar architecture to supply in-situ commodities on the South Pole of the Moon by 2028.