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Two Startups in Israel and the U.S. Join Forces for Making Oxygen on the Moon

It’s not just about going to space, but how we get there and for how long we will be able to do it. Like any vehicle, rockets need fuel, and this unprecedented expansion of the space industry must be sustained by a lot of fuel. The best way to ensure that, apparently, is by producing oxygen on a large scale, right there on the moon.
Helios' MRE reactor is part of a complex infrastructure project for making and storing oxygen on the Moon 7 photos
Helios Lunar Oxygen Production ProjectHelios Lunar Oxygen Production ProjectHelios Lunar Oxygen Production ProjectHelios Lunar Oxygen Production ProjectHelios Lunar Oxygen Production ProjectEta Space Specializes in Oxygen Storage
We are witnessing an unprecedented explosion of space tech startups around the world. Two of them have recently joined forces because they have one major thing in common – the focus on lunar oxygen production and infrastructure.

The Times of Israel reports that the Israeli company Helios and the Florida-based Eta Space will work on combining their technology solutions for making oxygen production on the moon more efficient.

Oxygen is essential for rocket fuel, and regular space operations using rockets that can carry more and more cargo also means an increased need for oxygen. One of the most viable solutions seems to be making it and storing it on the Moon.

Launched in 2018, Helios developed something with a name that sounds right out of Star Trek – “the Molten Regolith Reactor.” The MRE can take the oxides available on both the Martian and lunar surfaces (the regolith is a type of soil found on the moon), and separate them into oxygen and different metals. It will do so by melting the lunar soil at very high temperatures (1,600 degrees Celsius).

Once obtained, the oxygen needs to be properly stored. This is where Eta Space comes in. The team of former NASA engineers has created the Cryo-Dock, claiming to be the world’s first cryogenic propellant depot in orbit. The company’s unique cryogenic expertise will be used to liquefy and store the oxygen made by the Helios reactor using cryogenic tanks.

According to the Times of Israel, the joint efforts of these two startups will result in a unique oxygen production and liquefaction plant on the Moon. William Notardonato, founder and CEO of Eta Space, says that this is imperative for making space activity sustainable.

In the meantime, Helios will fly its innovative system to the Moon starting 2025, thanks to a collaboration with OHB SE, a multinational tech corporation. Only then will it be able to test its technology in real conditions for the first time.

 
 
 
 
 

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