Concept Powder fuel base on the moon

The moon is the closest planet to Earth in the solar system, it is in close proximity to the ground and within the reach of the current generation of orbital transport.

Because of its position, the moon is the most suitable candidate for the creation of the first alien base. The adopted plans for the moon include the creation of her scientific basis, with a gradual transition to commercial use. Because of the high cost, the lunar base projects are constantly delayed. But if the first base on the moon to create a right, based on the commercial operation, it will automatically solve the problem of financing, and will attract investors to the moon.

Commercial moon base would, in fact became the first extraterrestrial colony, by launching further colonization of space. But in order to create a database to be economically feasible, the base should produce what that useful and demanded product, the benefits of which would exceed the cost of its construction and operation.

Of the currently known commercial use of lunar resources, options are the following:

Manufacture articles in the moon of metal and ceramic, for use in orbit or export to the ground. Production itself is expensive and requires a well-developed infrastructure, while at the same time, it does not give much benefit, and at the moment is not widely in demand. Option with the production of products from raw materials moon can be a key in the future, when development of space transportation infrastructure appears. In the short term it can perform an auxiliary function, but can not claim to be the main one. Too costly, too low efficiency.

Mining on the moon expensive, rare items for export to the ground. The lunar soil increased content of some expensive elements such as precious metals and radioactive raw materials, mainly isotope – “Gellius – 3 ‘. The advantages of this trend is that solved the problem of transport costs, due to the export of expensive raw materials, which will be cost effective even when transporting conventional missiles. Disadvantages of the need for the moon special infrastructure for extraction and enrichment of rare cells, due to the extremely high investments. In addition, now there is no workable fusion reactors and reactors can consume Gellius – 3 will not be for at least another few decades. Commercial production on the moon rare elements is possible only in the distant future.

Production of the moon propellant. It is a realistic scenario, especially when you consider that fuel in space, most popular and most consumed consumables. The largest part of the payload into orbit is necessary for fuel, but the cost of removing from the earth, 5, 10 thousand dollars per kilogram, is so high that the production of fuel from lunar materials can be commercially viable. Unlike land on the moon no atmosphere and low gravity, which greatly simplifies the task of removing the payload into orbit with the moon’s surface. In the presence of the moon of chemical fuels, the cost of removal from the moon ten times less than from the ground. And when using, instead of a jet engine or a powerful catapult, which is low allows for the orbital speed of the moon, removal cost can be reduced to junk. fuel production, so do not require large infrastructure costs, as opposed to extraction of rare elements, for fuel processing does not need large amounts of soil and low productivity of operations of enrichment.

production of fuel on the moon, can definitely be a cost-effective solution, but it is necessary to take into account the specificity of lunar resource base. The moon rocks are widespread, but little water and do light elements. Therefore, the simplest of the known variants, is the production of liquid oxygen. Oxygen may be obtained from virtually any lunar rock by deoxidation at high temperature. But oxygen disadvantages include the fact that it can only serve as an oxidizing chemical fuel component, in order to receive the combustion reaction with oxygen must be even and fuel.

When using oxygen mainly as a component of a chemical fuel, fuel can be solved by supplying a liquid hydrogen earth. Hydrogen gas is very light, the relative weight of hydrogen combustion in steam and oxygen about 12%. hydrogen lightness allows to output it to the earth at relatively low cost, since a large part of the fuel vapors will have an inexpensive lunar oxygen. The disadvantages of this approach include the need for a constant supply of fuel from the ground and poor performance characteristics of hydrogen, it is very low-boiling and evaporates quickly.

Recent studies of the moon, give hope that the moon may be water, in the form of cometary ice in large enough quantities and concentrations for industrial production. Decomposing water into hydrogen and oxygen can be produced chemically couple the fuel on the moon that allows to provide constellation lunar fuel, regardless of the ground supply. The disadvantage of this trend is that the moon may be too little ice fields, or its content in the soil is too low. Now there is enough detail to assert something about a certain amount of ice on the moon sources and their suitability for production.

Another common shortcoming of the concept of chemical fuel on the moon, it is its low efficiency. Most of the produced fuel will be spent on the transport of fuel to places of consumption. In general, the chemical fuel efficiency is low, and it is impossible to significantly increase. Which severely limits its possibilities.

Due to the low potential chemical engines, in all probability, they are in the next generation of space technology will be replaced by more economical “Electro reactive” engines using combustion energy does not, but the energy of electric current obtained by solar or nuclear generators. Electric jet engines, on the orbit will become dominant. But chemical engines remain as a control engines and auxiliary power units. The most likely type of electric jet engines of the future – “Plasma engines”, since the combination of the characteristics they are the most versatile and easy to use.

In the transition to the constellation plasma engines, fuel demand will still remain. Plasma engines more fuel-efficient, but they also need the fuel consumed. Unlike chemical engines, in plasma, the fuel does not burn, and is transformed into plasma due to electric power supplied from outside. Therefore, the fuel plasma thrusters plays the role of “working fluid” without performing the fuel functions. Fuel plasma engines should not burn, so they can consume as the traditional fuel, and other substances, particularly pure oxygen, which does not burn, but may serve as a working fluid.

The advantage of reusable orbital tugs with plasma engine for space exploration, in that they reduce the cost of multiple orbital transport, making the space more accessible. Including reduced costs and delivery of cargo to the moon that makes it easier for the industrialization of the moon.

Base on the moon can provide cheap fuel reusable transport ships engines with plasma, the creation of which is supposed to run. As such lunar fuel industry needs no combustible components, or requires a lesser extent. Since the chemical and auxiliary engines will be the total fuel consumption is small. Eliminating the need to produce a combustible components, fuel industry on the moon can consume easily accessible sources of raw materials, lunar rocks, suitable for the production of oxygen.

production of oxygen on the moon, for orbital tugs with plasma engines, the most famous in the best of scenarios currently commercial activity on the moon.

Based on the features of plasma thrusters and opportunities to optimize production logistics relationships, I propose a fundamentally new approach to the development of lunar resources. Raw lunar base, producing a fine powder of the lunar soil.

Powder from lunar soil, may be consumed plasma engines with a modified fuel system. It can also serve as raw material for the production of oxygen, ceramics, metals, and articles of these materials in the space production centers in low-Earth orbit.

In plasma engines working fluid is heated by electric current, in the form of an electron beam, or high-frequency oscillations of the microwave radiation. Plasma is insulated from the magnetic field of the motor and the walls not in contact with the internal parts of the engine, therefore, can not cause corrosion of the refractory or slag deposits.

Properties plasma thrusters make them undemanding in choosing the working fluid, they can consume any substance, organic fuel, water, pure oxygen or other oxidants. They also undemanding to aggregate state fuel, working fluid can be gas, liquid or solid fuel in the form of fine powder. The ability of plasma thrusters consume fuel powder, it is determined by the capacities of the fuel system. Create fuel calculated on the powder, is not technically difficult task system, so there is the possibility of creating multifuel engines consuming as a mineral powder and core available orbit fuels such as liquid oxygen, organic fuel. Orbital tugs with such engines can run on any available operating body,

Mineral dust, must be delivered with a lunar fuel base. The main advantages of “Dust fuel base” can be attributed to its low cost and widespread availability of easily accessible resources. dusty base equipment as reliable in operation and practically does not need to provide the land.

Production of mineral dust, in contrast to a liquid fuel, does not require thermal or chemical processing of materials. It requires only production, mechanical grinding and orbit insertion, so the powder fuel base will have a relatively low weight and high performance. Accordingly, such a project would be relatively inexpensive and have high economic efficiency.

Excretion of the mineral powder into orbit, according to my project, it is estimated with the help of a powerful mechanical catapult – “Moonlight sling.” Sling is a rotor with ribbons of Kevlar, a width of about one meter long and a few kilometers. By tapes must move carriage – conveyors, containers containing lunar feed containers are discharged from the ends of tapes in a certain time, leaving the lunar orbit due to the speed at the ends of conveyor 1800, 2000 meters per second.

After launching into orbit special containers collected movable interceptor and stored on the lunar space station, before arrival of the next orbital tug.

Put into orbit by a mechanical catapult, it did not require the cost of fuel, and therefore has a low cost. Lunar sling itself, a relatively simple and lightweight device, compared with the possible analogues such as, railguns orbital or cable systems. Although it can not be excluded in the long term transition to a rope tow, an analogue of a space elevator, with the base located at the Lagrange point L – 1, where the pull of the earth and the moon cancel each other out.

Containers for lunar dust must be disposable, made from mineral fibers produced in situ from lunar soil. After launching into orbit, container material can also be ground into a fine powder, or used for other purposes, the same as the production of various designs or ceramic products.

Moon dust, to be used mainly as a fuel for reusable orbital tugs. But it can also be used as a raw material for ceramics, metals, and liquid oxygen. Conduct deep processing of lunar materials, thermal and chemical, it is more beneficial to the Earth space stations than on the moon. To place equipment for deep processing of low-Earth orbit, more profitable, due to minimum transportation costs, natural protection from cosmic radiation and the presence of manned stations that serve the basis for the placement of production equipment.

Lunar raw materials, will be much cheaper than the materials delivered from the ground, which makes its use economically viable. Mineral dust on the orbit can obtain oxygen serving as an oxidizing agent for chemical engines, ceramic products, which can serve as housings for manned modules and elements of the support structure of the metals can be manufactured a variety of parts and products which can find wide application. The ability to produce raw materials from the lunar products, reducing the need to provide the ground for the constellation. Which will save money on its expansion and will create the basis for further development of industrial activities in space.

The proposed concept of the lunar powder fuel base has no analogues on the ratio of financial costs and economic efficiency. In addition, it allows you to start the use of a variety of lunar materials for orbital grouping. Creating the basis for economically sound production activities based on extraterrestrial resources, which distinguishes it from other variants of fuel bases on the moon.

The concept of the lunar powder fuel base provides an effective business case for the colonization of the moon and diverse use of lunar resources, which allows you to make another breakthrough in the field of space exploration, with its practical implementation. Relatively low costs and high economic efficiency make it attractive to investors. Implementation of the concept makes it possible to reduce the cost of the orbital transport and opens up new areas for the development of space that allows you to count on financial support from the national space agencies and research budgets.

Mineral dust as the main fuel for orbital engine has a number of advantages. Production of mineral dust is possible without the high cost of all astronomical objects on the moon, Phobos, Mars, asteroids, it is the most accessible and cheapest fuel in the galaxy. With a fleet of orbital tugs consume the available fuel alien, humanity can cost-effectively build settlements on the nearby planets and asteroids to explore mineral resources.

Creating a fuel base on the moon and a group of reusable tugs with plasma engines in orbit, may provide a basis for further colonization of outer space. The resource base on the moon, is the key to the further colonization of the entire solar system. In this capacity, the lunar base is not just a new direction in space, and a big step to the expansionist movement of mankind in outer space, the transition to terrestrial civilization cosmic level.


Nikolay Agapov.

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