SPORE Apollo 12 Regolith and Mega-Regolith Characterization

Apollo12 Site Regolith Characterization

The first step in the SPORE project is to gather as much relevant data as possible on the Lunar regolith and mega-regolith at the Apollo 12 site. We’ll need this information so we can figure out how to excavate the material, build the shield wall, and minimize atmosphere loss inside the shield wall. We’ll also need to figure out an acceptable simulant so we can run experiments. Continue reading

SPORE at a Glance

Version 1.0 August 17, 2018

 

Just like the Lunar Homestead at a Glance, this page is all about getting you up to speed with as few words as possible.

 

Concept

Enclose, shield, and pressurize the mining site with oxygen extracted from Lunar rocks.

 

Why

Surface mining is dangerous and difficult. SPORE eliminates most of the problems while creating few new ones.

 

Main ideas
  • Shielded
    • Covering the mining area with a thick blanket of regolith will protect Homesteaders and equipment from:
      • Lunar dust
      • Radiation
      • Meteoroid impacts
      • Thermal extremes
      • Moonquakes
    • A shield wall will be constructed over the mining site. The construction material of the shield wall is yet to be determined. The functions of the shield wall are:
      • Support the regolith blanket
      • Contain the pressurized oxygen (see below)
      • Provide a space for the habitat pressure hull to be built (once the regolith and mega-regolith have been removed. The gap between the shield wall and the hull provides:
        • Protection for the pressure hull from:
          • Lunar dust
          • Meteoroid impacts
          • Abrasive Lunar regolith and mega-regolith
        • Easy access to the exterior of the habitat pressure hull for:
          • Maintenance
          • Repairs
          • Expansion
        • Better thermal control verses having the regolith directly against the pressure hull
        • The possibility of recovering nitrogen leaked from the habitat
    • Enclosing the mining area might help with the low gravity by allowing mining equipment to use the shield wall to provide resistance while in operation.
    • Shielding the mining site allows our mining equipment and robots to be simpler as the environment is less hostile.
    • The popular model for Lunar mining involves exposed surface operations spread out over a large area. This model exposes equipment and personnel to all the hazards present at the Lunar surface.
  • Pressurized Oxygen
    • Pressurizing the shield wall mining enclosure will protect Homesteaders and equipment from:
      • Vacuum
      • Lunar dust
    • The pressure inside the mine site would be lower than the pressure inside the habitat. The pressure (to be determined) will be a compromise based on:
      • Fire risk
      • Decompression injury risk
      • Oxygen leakage
    • Mining and construction operations will be considerably easier inside a pressurized environment than out on the surface.
    • Extracting resources from ilmenite, olivine, and pyroxene will most likely produce more oxygen than is needed for the life support system and cover losses due to leakage through the regolith and mega-regolith.
    • A pressurized environment might make it easier to recover volatile gasses trapped in the Lunar regolith.
    • Leakage will be minimized by extending the shield wall as regolith and mega-regolith are exposed.
  • Resource
    • The primary resource for SPORE operations is Lunar mega-regolith (the layer below the regolith).
      • The popular model for Lunar mining is to go after the regolith (the surface layer).
    • The Lunar mega-regolith has several advantages of the regolith
      • There is significantly more mega-regolith than regolith (1-2 kilometers thick vs 10 meters)
      • The mega-regolith should contain less dust. Particle size increases with depth.
      • Large chunks of bedrock are available instead of the much smaller particles in the regolith.
      • The mega-regolith might be more homogeneous than the regolith.
    • Homesteaders can excavate horizontally beneath the regolith. This would create an existing regolith blanket without having to disturb the regolith (dust control).
    • We don’t know a lot about Lunar regolith and even less about the mega-regolith.
  • Extraction
    • Shielding and pressurizing the mining site will create a much less hazardous environment. Mining deeper instead of across the surface will also lessen the risks.
    • Complex mining robots are unnecessary due to the favorable mining environment SPORE has created.
    • The Lunar Homestead approach to extraction is to keep things simple. It doesn’t get much simpler than Homesteaders using hand tools to mine the mega-regolith.
      • Hand tools require no electricity
      • Hand tools generate no heat
      • Hand tools can be 100% manufactured and repaired locally using local resources
    • Power tools are also a possibility, especially pneumatic or electric. But only if they can be manufactured and maintained locally.
    • Robots, even simple ones, would be an unnecessary luxury. At least until Lunar industry can manufacture the high-tech components.

 

Advantages of SPORE
  • Simpler and safer than surface mining.
    • We can use human labor instead of relying on expensive and complex robots.
    • Deals with the Lunar dust issue. Lunar dust is considered a “deal-breaker” to Lunar settlement if we don’t figure out how to deal with it.
  • Equipment doesn’t have to be engineered to deal with all the hazards and problems related to surface operations.
    • Significantly less expensive equipment
    • Equipment can be manufactured and maintained on Luna.
  • Smaller scale than most proposed Lunar mining concepts.
    • This will allow our Homesteaders to get started immediately instead of waiting for the infrastructure to be in place.
  • Creates protected space for habitats while simultaneously extracting critical resources.

 

Let me know if I’ve got anything wrong or just missed something. Thanks!

SPORE Overview

SPORE Overview

The Shielded Pressurized Oxygen Resource Extraction (SPORE) project is my attempt to come up with a better way for Homesteaders (Lunar and otherwise) to extract the resources they need from their local environment. For Lunar Homesteaders that would be mainly the regolith and the underlying mega-regolith. Continue reading

Lunar Surface Mining Challenges

Lunar Surface Mining Challenges

Some people (I doubt it’s many the way Lunar settlement research has been funded) are working on how we can safely and efficiently gather the Lunar regolith from the surface and process it into useful items. Everything I’ve read focuses on robots doing the job as the surface is too dangerous for humans to spend a lot of time mining on it. I’ve decided to list all the challenges of Lunar surface mining that I can find. Not to see how our current technology stacks up (rather poorly I bet) but to maybe come at the problem from a different angle. Continue reading