An Israeli company intends to extract oxygen from the soil of the moon - and fuel SpaceX to Mars The Helios solution, supported by the Israeli Space Agency, may reduce the cost of launches and enable a long-term human presence in deep space
Meet the Israeli company that wants to extract oxygen from the moon: the Helios company (Helios) Matzur Yigal, which is supported by the Israel Space Agency in the Ministry of Science and Technology and plans to launch a first experiment toThe International Space Station Already next year. Helios is developing technology that will allow oxygen to be extracted directly from the lunar soil. If it succeeds, the small company from Israel will pave the way for human settlement on the moon and Mars.
"You have to understand that building infrastructure on the moon is not a futuristic vision for another 20 years," explains CEO of Helios Yonatan Geifman. "In the next five years, we are going to launch over 50 missions to the moon, a significant part of them as part of the Artemis project. And in three years the first two modules of the lunar space station, the Lunar Gateway, will be spinningSpice X will launch. NASA has set itself the goal of returning to the moon in order to stay, that is, to create a permanent presence on the moon. But all these beautiful plans will not be economically viable until we overcome the main challenge facing space launches: the transportation of thousands of tons of oxygen from the Earth to the Moon every year for rocket propulsion purposes. When the cost of transporting one kilogram of oxygen from the Earth to the Moon is over $100,000, establishing a serious infrastructure on the Moon will simply be too expensive with the current method." Haya Gold Jonathan Geifman, CEO of Helios.
70% of the starship is oxygen
As a general rule, to launch a payload into space you need fuel. But the weight of the fuel adds to the weight of the cargo, which requires more fuel. The extra fuel means extra weight, which requires more fuel - and so on in a vicious vicious circle called by engineers "The tyranny of the missile equation". This means that space missions consist of 95% fuel and only 5% cargo (Astronauts, satellites, scientific experiments, etc.). The oxygen is a major player in the problem, since in order to burn all this fuel the launcher has to carry with it the oxygen, which is known not to exist in space, and this oxygen also has weight. Lots of weight.
"A good example is the starship developed by SpaceX," Geifman explains. "The spacecraft is expected to weigh 1,200 tons - where 850 tons of the total weight will be oxygen. Just oxygen. And if later we want to send the starship toMars, we will have to refuel it while it is in low satellite orbit around the Earth - that is, we will have to launch a supply spacecraft ahead of time, which itself will be another starship with more oxygen."
The revolutionary technology developed by Helios is the extraction of the required oxygen from the lunar sand without the need for perishable raw materials from the Earth, thereby saving costs and enabling the transportation of a larger cargo at the expense of the oxygen. Producing oxygen on the moon will support not only a permanent human presence on the moon, as in the Artemis and Lunar Gateway programs, but also deep space missions - such as manned missions to Mars. Since Earth's gravity is much stronger than the Moon's, it takes 25 times more energy to transport oxygen from Earth to near space than it does from the Moon. In fact, it would be cheaper to fuel a starship with oxygen from the Moon than with oxygen from Earth, even if the spacecraft orbited Earth.
Avi Blasberger, Director of the Israel Space Agency at the Ministry of Science and Technology says that "we anticipate that the trend of returning to the moon around NASA's Artemis program will generate significant business opportunities in the space industry in general and the Israeli space industry in particular. The Helios company, which started its journey at the Space Agency's entrepreneurship workshop as part of Israel Space Week, is an excellent example of a groundbreaking Israeli startup that will lead and be a major factor in this developing trend in the world."
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