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Water and oxygen made on the Moon

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Sustaining human presence on the Moon remains an open challenge. ESA is now calling for new partnerships to produce drinkable water or breathable oxygen on our closest neighbour by 2025.

This ambitious goal is key to maintain a human habitat and help reduce the cost of lunar exploration. The Moon turns out to be an excellent opportunity to learn how to live off the land.

ESA is looking into innovative concepts to break explorers’ reliance on Earth supplies. Solutions include regolith as a potential source of oxygen or the extraction of water from the lunar soil.

A widespread presence of water ice has been detected in the permanently shadowed areas of the polar regions. These deposits could be a valuable resource of hydrogen and oxygen for life support and fuel.

Local, commercial and international

In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) involves the extraction and processing of local resources into useful products.

ESA invites commercial and innovative partners to tender for its ISRU Demonstration mission definition study. The goal is clear yet challenging: develop technologies to produce water and breathable oxygen on the Moon in an end-to-end process.

The procurement of services for payload delivery and communications will nurture commercial services for lunar exploration.

Consortia made of diverse industries, universities and R&D institutions are welcome to bid. ESA encourages European industry to seek international partners for strengthening the attractiveness of the commercial service offers.

Sponsoring your ideas

ESA will fund the best proposals on the following topics with up to EUR 500 000:

  1. ISRU payload definition
  2. Payload delivery services to the Moon
  3. Communication services

The outcome of the study will contribute to inform a decision on the mission implementation at the ESA Council at Ministerial Level in December 2019. Stay tuned.

The invitation to tender is published on EMITS - reference AO9102, and the deadline for submissions is 1 November 2017.