LUNAR RESOURCES: THEIR VALUE IN LUNAR AND LUNAR RESOURCES: THEIR VALUE IN LUNAR AND PLANETARY EXPLORATION

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    PLANETARY EXPLORATION

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    PAUL

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    SEPTEMBER 1966

    GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CEWTER - GREENBELT, MARYLAND

    https://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19670009304 2020-03-22T01:30:12+00:00Z

  • LUNAR RESOURCES: THEIR TTALUE I N LUNAR AND PLANETARY EXPLORATION

    Paul D. Lowman, Jr. Goddard Space Flight Center

    Greenbel t, Maryland

  • OUTLINE

    LUNAR RESOURCES: THEIR VALUE I N LUNAR AND PLANETARY EXPLORATION

    Paul D . Lowman, Jr. Goddard Space F l i g h t Cen te r

    G r e e n b e l t , Maryland

    ABSTRACT

    INTRODUCTION

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    THE NATURE OF LUNAR RESOURCES

    Indigenous Power Sources Indigenous Raw Materials

    Prognos is f o r Lunar M a t e r i a l Resources Discovery and Evalua t ion of Lunar Resources

    EXTRACTION OF LUNAR RESOURCES

    Mining M a t e r i a l Handling

    M a t e r i a l Process ing

    ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF EXTRATERRESTRIAL RESOURCES

    Resource Demand E s t i m a t e R e source T ran s p o r t E s t imate

    Resource Manufacture Cost E s t i m a t e

    HUMAN FACTORS I N LUNAR RESOURCE UTILIZATION

    L i f e Suppor t Requirements Resupply, Regenera t ion , and S y n t h e s i s

    Human P a r t i c i p a t i o n i n Resource U t i l i z a t i o n Areas f o r F u r t h e r Research

    CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    REFERENCES

  • LUNAR RESOURCES: THEIR VALUE I N LUNAR AND PLANETARY EXPLORATION

    Paul D . Lownan, J r . Goddard Space F l i g h t Center

    Greenbel t , Maryland

    ABSTRACT

    T h i s paper reviews t h e n a t u r e and u t i l i z a t i o n of l u n a r r e sources a s

    a means of i n c r e a s i n g t h e economy of manned luna r and p l a n e t a r y e x p l o r a t i o n .

    Lunar r e sources inc lude indigenous energy and m a t e r i a l s which can be

    p r o f i t a b l y used. The ch ie f l u n a r energy source i s s o l a r r a d i a t i o n ; i n

    a d d i t i o n , geothermal steam, i f a v a i l a b l e , would be va luab le . M a t e r i a l

    r e s o u r c e s , f o r l i f e suppor t , s t r u c t u r a l purposes , and r o c k e t f u e l , which

    can be expec ted t o e x i s t i n t h e moon inc lude oxygen, i r o n , magnesium,

    s i l i c o n , and o t h e r e lements found i n m e t e o r i t e s . The abundance and n a t u r e

    of l u n a r hydrogen, carbon, and water i s u n c e r t a i n . However, wa te r , which

    might supply 90% of l o g i s t i c requi rements , should e x i s t under any hypo thes i s

    of t h e moon's o r i g i n and e v o l u t i o n . The prognos is f o r u s a b l e luna r r e sources

    i n g e n e r a l i s good.

    E x t r a c t i o n of t h e s e r e sources inc ludes mining, hand l ing , and p rocess ing .

    Subsurface mining i s favored because it a f f o r d s p r o t e c t i o n from t h e s u r f a c e

    environment. Material handl ing can probably be done wi th a d a p t a t i o n s of

    v e h i c l e s developed f o r o t h e r purposes . P rocess ing f o r e lements such a s

    oxygen and hydrogen w i l l probably be done by thermal d i s s o c i a t i o n ,

    e l e c t r o l y t i c r e d u c t i o n , o r chemical r educ t ion .

    Economic a n a l y s i s of l u n a r r e source use i s cen te red c h i e f l y on r o c k e t

    f u e l , which would be t h e major u s e f o r l u n a r m a t e r i a l s , and s e c o n d a r i l y on

    l i f e suppor t . Pa rame t r i c s t u d i e s based on e s t i m a t e s of demand, t r a n s p o r t a t i o n

  • - 2 -

    f a c t o r s and manufacturing c o s t , i n d i c a t e t h a t t h e c o s t of i n t e r p l a n e t a r y

    mis s ions can be reduced by f a c t o r s of 4 t o 10 w i t h t h e u s e of l u n a r and

    p l a n e t a r y r e sources . -

    Human f a c t o r s d i scussed i n c l u d e requi rements and t h e e f f i c i e n c y of re-

    supply, r egene ra t ion , and s y n t h e s i s of l i f e suppor t s u p p l i e s ( a i r , water,

    and food) .

    long-term bases .

    space s u i t des ign , water recovery , metabol ic l o a d s , and t i m e a l l o c a t i o n .

    S y n t h e s i s of t h e s e from luna r materials becomes a t t r a c t i v e f o r

    F u r t h e r r e s e a r c h i s needed i n a r t i f i c i a l atmospheres,

    INTRODUCTION

    Manned space f l i g h t has developed much f a s t e r than even i t s most

    o p t i m i s t i c s u p p o r t e r s of a few decades ago expec ted , due c h i e f l y t o t h e

    p r e s s u r e of i n t e r n a t i o n a l compet i t ion , t h e a v a i l a b i l i t y of l a r g e m i l i t a r y

    r o c k e t s , and t h e gene ra l a c c e l e r a t i o n of t echno log ica l p rog res s i n a r e a s such

    as e l e c t r o n i c s , It appears t h a t space f l i g h t has i n f a c t gained i r r e v e r s i b l e

    momentum, and t h a t w e s h a l l s h o r t l y a t t empt e x t e n s i v e l u n a r e x p l o r a t i o n and

    manned i n t e r p l a n e t a r y f l i g h t s . These w i l l , however, be ex t remely expens ive

    and complex o p e r a t i o n s i f u se i s n o t made of n a t u r a l r e s o u r c e s e x i s t i n g on

    t h e moon and p l a n e t s : cons ide r t h e probable s t a t e o f t r a n s o c e a n i c a v i a t i o n

    if each plane had had t o c a r r y a l l f u e l and o t h e r s u p p l i e s f o r a round t r i p .

    On t h e o t h e r hand, i f w e can d i scove r and u s e e x t r a t e r r e s t r i a l r e s o u r c e s i n

    t h e e a r l y s t a g e s of such e x p l o r a t i o n , w e s h a l l n o t on ly reduce i t s c o s t b u t

    speed t h e day when s e r i o u s manned e x p l o r a t i o n of t h e e n t i r e s o l a r system can

    begin .

    The moon w i l l of cour se b e t h e real s t a r t i n g p o i n t f o r t h e e x p l o r a t i o n

    of t h e s o l a r system; cor respondingly , t h e f i r s t e x t r a t e r r e s t r i a l m a t e r i a l

    r e s o u r c e s used w i l l be luna r r e s o u r c e s . The purpose of t h i s paper i s t o

  • - 3 -

    summarize the state of knowledge in the utilization of lunar resources and

    to suggest a fruitful course for future efforts in this field.

    ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

    This paper reflects the accomplishments of the Working Group on

    Extraterrestrial Resources, an informal organization of personnel from

    government, industry, and universities whose objective is to further the

    use of extraterrestrial resources. Members who have contributed directly

    to the paper, beside the author, include Ernst A . Steinhoff, C. William

    Henderson, Bruce M. Hall, and James H. Malcolm. The paper is the outgrowth

    of a Prospectus on Extraterrestrial Resources proposed and outlined by

    Henderson, formerly Chairman of the Logistics Requirements Subgroup of the

    WGER.

    I am also indebted to Dr. James B. Edson, Chairman of the KER,

    J. J. Gangler, and C . F. Austin for their comments and advice, ;rnd to

    Dr. R. W. Johnson for a helpful review.

    Opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily

    reflect those of the Working Group on Extraterrestrial Resources or the

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  • - 4 -

    THE NATURE OF LUNAR RESOURCES

    Indigenous Energy Sources

    There are two major l u n a r energy s o u r c e s which may be o f v a l u e f o r

    l u n a r resource u t i l i z a t i o n : s o l a r and geothermal energy.

    S o l a r energy, t h e most p r e d i c t a b l e s o u r c e , has of c o u r s e been used by

    hundreds of s o l a r - c e l l - c a r r y i n g s a t e l l i t e s , whose power requi rements a r e

    very low compared t o t h o s e of a l u n a r base . Used by systems such a s t h e

    p a r a b o l i c m i r r o r of t h e Sunflower system, ' s o l a r energy has t h e advantages

    o f being dependable and a b l e t o f u r n i s h ex t remely high tempera tures i f

    d e s i r e d ; i n a d d i t i o n , small s o l a r thermal u n i t s can be r e l a t i v e l y l i g h t .

    The disadvantages of s o l a r energy f o r l u n a r use a r e , f i r s t , t h a t , e x c e p t f o r

    p o l a r l o c a t i o n s , 2 it i s i n t e r m i t t e n t , be ing a v a i l a b l e o n l y 14 days p e r month.

    Second, t h e c o l l e c t o r must be aimed a t t h e sun , n e c e s s i t a t i n g a t r a c k i n g

    mechanism. F i n a l l y , and most fundamental , t h e s o l a r c o n s t a n t