Drilling and mining on the moon

Honeybee Robotics has two projects for near-term lunar ISRU-focused missions.

Project one is developing a sampling drill for volatile-rich lunar regolith as part of NASA’s Lunar Resource Prospector.

There is technology development required to reach TRL 6, as well as the range of tests the system was subjected to. These tests include drilling in volatile-rich lunar analog soil and sample delivery inside a lunar chamber.

Project two involves volatile extraction technology for large-scale mining operations. In a more conventional approach, feedstock is mined and transported to a processing plant. Here, an alternative design will be presented that combines the mining and extraction steps into one and eliminates the transport step. I will present several approaches, vacuum chamber test data, and lessons learned.

Kris Zacny is the Vice President and Director of the Exploration Technology Group at Honeybee Robotics. His expertise includes terrestrial and extraterrestrial robotic drilling, excavation, sample handling and processing, geotechnical systems, and sensors. In his previous capacity as an engineer in the South African mining industry, Dr. Zacny managed numerous mining projects and production divisions. Dr. Zacny received his PhD (UC Berkeley, 2005) in Geotechnical Engineering with an emphasis on Mars drilling, ME (UC Berkeley, 2001) in Petroleum Engineering with an emphasis on Drilling and Materials Science, and BSc cum laude (U. Cape Town, 1997) in Mechanical Engineering. He has participated in several Arctic, Antarctic, Atacama, and Greenland expeditions. Dr. Zacny has over 150 publications related to extreme drilling and excavation, over 40 NASA New Technology Records, and four NASA Group Achievement Awards.

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