When mining begins on the moon or even Mars, a piece of technology developed in Sudbury may be one of the key tools – or multi-tools, rather.
Deltion Innovations Limited, a mining and automation robotics company based in Capreol, announced Wednesday it had been awarded a $700,000 contract as part of the Canadian Space Agency’s Space Technology Development Program, to develop PROMPT (Percussive and Rotary Multi-Purpose Tool), for potential use on exploration and prospecting missions on the moon or Mars.
Described as a “space-age Swiss Army knife,” PROMPT would combined elements of previous CSA-supported projects such as a mini-corer drill, power socket wrench tool and a lunar-sampling drill, all combined in a small, lightweight, but highly durable unit, installed on the end of a robotic manipulator arm.
Deltion presented its concept to CSA officials this week and will go back with a more detailed design this summer. If all goes as planned, a prototype built largely at its Meehan Street facility will be ready for testing this winter.
“As mankind starts pushes out beyond
Earth’s orbit and starts looking at the moon, at Mars and at asteroids, there are two things that are inevitable – one of them is space mining, and the second inevitable item is space construction,” said Dale Boucher, CEO of Deltion. “Space mining is on the road maps of all the major space agencies as an item that will be needed to provide consumables for missions.
When humans go to Mars, when they go to the moon, they will be looking for consumables to come from the land they’re actually on, and that’s where space mining is going to take place. Construction, of course, is inevitable, because when you have humans anywhere, they want to put up some kind of structure, and even with mining systems, there’s going to be base camps constructed.”
Early-stage space mining will be similar to terrestrial mining, he said, because it will start with prospecting, and that will require a sampling tool dedicated to understanding the quality and quantity of a particular resource, such as water, so planners can design a safe, reliable long-term mission and put humans on the moon or other planets.
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