Scientists working on autonomous swarms of robots to mine the Moon – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – September 13, 2021)

https://www.mining.com/

Plans to start mining the Moon as early as 2025 have received a boost, with NASA granting a research team from the University of Arizona $500,000 to develop a swarm of robots able to mine, excavate and even build simple structures on the surface of our world’s natural satellite.

The robots, to be constructed and trained on Earth, will at first receive instructions from operators on this planet, but the goal is to make them fully autonomous, the university said.

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It’s been 50 years since NASA’s Apollo 16 astronauts walked on Sudbury – by Colleen Romaniuk (Sudbury Star – July 9, 2021)

https://www.thesudburystar.com/

They were here to train for their moon mission

This summer marks 50 years since NASA dispatched the Apollo 16 astronauts to Sudbury for field training ahead of their trip to the moon. Commander John Young and pilot Charles Duke, whose spacecraft would launch from Cape Canaveral less than a year later on April 16, 1972, teamed up with experts from Inco to study Sudbury’s impact crater and its unique geological structures.

NASA hoped that the field training, which took place from July 7 to 9, 1971, would prepare the astronauts for lunar surface experiments. It turns out, the excursion didn’t prepare them as much as they’d hoped.

“We were very interested, at the time, in trying to work up the geology of the moon. The great debate in the literature prior to our first moon landing was how much of the moon was formed by volcanic activity and how much of it was formed by impact structures,” said Michael Dence.

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Space mining is not science fiction, and Canada could figure prominently – by Elizabeth Steyn (The Conversation – April 4, 2021)

https://theconversation.com/

In this era of climate crisis, space mining is a topic of increasing relevance. The need for a net-zero carbon economy requires a surge in the supply of non-renewable natural resources such as battery metals. This forms the background to a new space race involving nations and the private sector.

Canada is a space-faring nation, a world leader in mining and a major player in the global carbon economy. It’s therefore well-positioned to actively participate in the emerging space resources domain.

But the issues arising in this sphere are bigger than Canada, since they involve the future of mankind — on Earth and in space.

Battery metals in hot demand

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Space mining is critical for terrestrial mining, here’s why – by Anna Golubova (Kitco News – March 18, 2021)

https://www.kitco.com/

(Kitco News) Space mining and terrestrial mining have a lot in common and the latest developments in the space mining industry offer lucrative opportunities to terrestrial miners that shouldn’t be overlooked, according to one industry expert.

NASA has been pouring millions of dollars into early-stage research and development projects, which the mining industry has been neglecting, Deltion Innovations CEO Dale Boucher told Kitco News.

“There’s an awful lot of money being thrown into very early-stage R&D that is specific to space mining. For example, the Canadian space agency spent millions of dollars to figure out very small drilling tools,” Boucher said.

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Western profs to explore laws and regulations for mining in outer space (CBC News London – February 7, 2021)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/

A new project spearheaded by two Western University professors aims to address the gaps in regulation surrounding space mining — and what this will mean for countries and companies that have their eye on the field.

The increasing demand for non-renewable natural resources has garnered deep interest by many countries worldwide to the possibility of harvesting resources from outer space.

Western University law professors Valerie Oosterveld and Elizabeth Steyn launched a research project to look into the laws governing space mining and whether or not international environmental law can be help address the lack of regulation in the emerging field.

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Experts warn of brewing space mining war among US, China and Russia – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – February 2, 2021)

https://www.mining.com/

A brewing war to set a mining base in space is likely to see China and Russia joining forces to keep the US increasing attempts to dominate extra-terrestrial commerce at bay, experts warn.

The Trump Administration took an active interest in space, announcing that America would return astronauts to the moon by 2024 and creating the Space Force as the newest branch of the US military.

It also proposed global legal framework for mining on the moon, called the Artemis Accords, encouraging citizens to mine the Earth’s natural satellite and other celestial bodies with commercial purposes.

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Microbes Can Mine Valuable Elements From Rocks in Space – by George Dvorsky (Gizmodo.com.au – November 11, 2020)

https://www.gizmodo.com.au/

Recent experiments aboard the International Space Station have shown that some microbes can harvest valuable rare-earth elements from rocks, even when exposed to microgravity conditions. The unexpected finding shows how microbes could boost our ability to live and work in space.

On Earth, some microscopic organisms have shown their worth as effective miners, extracting rare-earth elements (REEs) from rocks. New experimental evidence published today in Nature Communications shows that, when it comes to leaching REEs from rocks, at least one strain of bacteria is largely unaffected by microgravity and low-gravity conditions.

This is potentially good news for future space explorers, as biomining microbes could provide a means for acquiring REEs while in space, on the Moon, or on Mars.

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China to launch first space mining robot in November – by Anna Golubova (Kitco News – September 28, 2020)

https://www.kitco.com/

(Kitco News) Chinese company Origin Space is scheduled to launch the world’s first asteroid mining robot in November. But no actual mining will be done on the mission as the goal is to test the equipment.

The Beijing-based private company plans to launch NEO-1, a 30-kg satellite, via a Chinese Long March series rocket as a secondary payload, reported U.S. science magazine IEEE Spectrum.

“The goal is to verify and demonstrate multiple functions such as spacecraft orbital maneuver, simulated small celestial body capture, intelligent spacecraft identification and control,” Yu Tianhong, co-founder of Origin Space, told the magazine.

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Lunar gold rush: can Moon mining ever take off? – by Matthew Hall (Mining Technology – July 6, 2020)

https://www.mining-technology.com/

The Moon could harbour more metals than had previously been believed beneath its surface, according to research conducted using NASA data. The new revelations about the Moon’s geological composition may affect theories as to the celestial body’s origin, but the news will also pique the interest of aspiring Moon miners.

The US Government has recently floated the idea of mining the Moon, but what does this new development mean for a lunar gold rush?

New evidence that the Moon may be rich in metals such as iron and titanium was discovered using data from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administrations’ (NASA) Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft.

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The Space Business Is About to Get Really Serious – by Michael R. Strain (Bloomberg News – May 26, 2020)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Wednesday is looking like a watershed moment in history. The scheduled afternoon launch of a SpaceX Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 4:33 p.m. would mark the first time a privately owned vehicle takes astronauts into orbit.

Elon Musk, the billionaire space entrepreneur and chief executive of Tesla Inc., founded SpaceX in 2002. If the launch succeeds — bad weather could push it to Saturday — it would be the company’s crowning achievement to date.

Musk’s hope is to enable the colonization of Mars. Delivering two astronauts to the International Space Station suggests that his grand ambition might be more than a pipe dream.

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OPINION: The United States is going back to space. But we have some things to figure out on Earth first – by Michael Byers (Globe and Mail – May 23, 2020)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Michael Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law. Aaron Boley holds the Canada Research Chair in Planetary Astronomy. They teach at the University of British Columbia and co-direct the Outer Space Institute.

“That is a spacecraft, sir. We do not refer to it as a capsule,” said astronaut Alan Shepard, as portrayed by Scott Glenn in The Right Stuff.

Mr. Shepard was a pilot, not a passenger. In 1961, he became the first American to reach space; 10 years later, he walked on the moon.

This month, the United States returns to human spaceflight after a nine-year hiatus. There is much to celebrate, including in Canada, where the Canadian Space Agency works closely with NASA. Yet these celebrations should be tempered with caution, as the Trump administration seizes the moment to challenge long-standing rules of international space law – and demands acquiescence from Canada.

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‘Star Trek, not Star Wars:’ NASA releases basic principles for moon exploration pact – by Joey Roulette (Reuters U.S. – May 15, 2020)

https://www.reuters.com/

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – NASA on Friday set the stage for a global debate over the basic principles governing how humans will live and work on the moon, as it released the main tenets of an international pact for moon exploration called the Artemis Accords.

The accords seek to establish ‘safety zones’ that would surround future moon bases to prevent what the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration called “harmful interference” from rival countries or companies operating in close proximity.

They would also permit companies to own the lunar resources they mine, a crucial element in allowing NASA contractors to convert the moon’s water ice for rocket fuel or mine lunar minerals to construct landing pads.

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Canada urged not to endorse U.S. approach to space mining – by Steven Chase (Globe and Mail – April 20, 2020)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

The Canadian government is being urged not to endorse a U.S. approach to mining in space that experts warn could result in countries setting their own rules for extraterrestrial resource extraction.

Seven Canadian international space policy and law experts have written a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne asking Canada instead to back the development of a multilateral treaty among as many countries as possible to set uniform rules.

They’re responding to an executive order signed April 6 by U.S. President Donald Trump that rejects the idea of outer space as an asset that is outside of national jurisdiction.

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Trump signs executive order to support moon mining, tap asteroid resources – by Mike Wall (Space.com – April 6, 2020)

https://www.space.com/

The U.S. sees a clear path to the use of moon and asteroid resources.

The water ice and other lunar resources that will help the United States establish a long-term human presence on the moon are there for the taking, the White House believes.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order today (April 6) establishing U.S. policy on the exploitation of off-Earth resources. That policy stresses that the current regulatory regime — notably, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty — allows the use of such resources.

This view has long held sway in U.S. government circles. For example, the United States, like the other major spacefaring nations, has not signed the 1979 Moon Treaty, which stipulates that non-scientific use of space resources be governed by an international regulatory framework. And in 2015, Congress passed a law explicitly allowing American companies and citizens to use moon and asteroid resources.

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Unstable Mineral Supply Threatens Electric Car, Green Projects, Justifies Undersea, Space Mining; Report – by Neil Winton (Forbes Magazine – January 3, 2019)

https://www.forbes.com/

The advent of the electric car is threatened by a few known knowns like range anxiety, high prices, and a thin recharging network, but now, according to a report from the University of Sussex, lurking in the background are possible shortages of the raw materials at the heart of this low-carbon revolution, which threaten to derail the whole project.

Making sure of adequate supplies is so important, mining under the sea, or even on other planets, would be justified, according to the report.

The automotive industry in Europe has been spending massively to embrace the electric car. On Thursday, Europe’s number one auto maker, Volkswagen, raised the stakes of its electric plans by bringing forward its target of producing one million electric cars a year by two years, to the end of 2023. By 2025 this will reach 1.5 million a year.

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