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.

25 thoughts on “Drilling and mining on the moon”

  1. Drilling is a good idea. A better idea would be low flying high resolution prospectors looking for ores containing platinum metals water and He3. The information collected would be then fed into a material sampling program which would include drilling. The other thing to explore is caves.

    Reply
  2. Drilling is a good idea. A better idea would be low flying high resolution prospectors looking for ores containing platinum metals, water and He3. The information collected would be then fed into a material sampling program which would include drilling. The other thing to explore is caves.

    Reply
  3. I think we’ve already done as much as we can reasonably do with low-flying mapping satellites. Better to be on the ground taking direct samples now. Would be interesting to see how much it varies under the surface compared to the sun-baked and radiation-bombarded top layer. Caves would indeed be interesting, but a whole ‘nother layer of difficulty in terms of moving around remotely or robotically.

    Reply
  4. I think we’ve already done as much as we can reasonably do with low-flying mapping satellites. Better to be on the ground taking direct samples now. Would be interesting to see how much it varies under the surface compared to the sun-baked and radiation-bombarded top layer.Caves would indeed be interesting but a whole ‘nother layer of difficulty in terms of moving around remotely or robotically.

    Reply
  5. Why He3? Do you see any He3 fusion reactors around? Will you see them start being around if we had more he3? Answer to both is: no

    Reply
  6. Why He3? Do you see any He3 fusion reactors around? Will you see them start being around if we had more he3?Answer to both is: no

    Reply
  7. We won’t be mining it tomorrow. All we will be doing is taking inventory. For the near future the most important things to find is platinum metals. Even at low concentration they would be worth smelting and flinging to earth.

    Reply
  8. I don’t share that opinion. The Japanese SELENE probe did some mineral mappings but I think it would be worth while to do an even more accurate mapping.

    Reply
  9. We won’t be mining it tomorrow. All we will be doing is taking inventory. For the near future the most important things to find is platinum metals. Even at low concentration they would be worth smelting and flinging to earth.

    Reply
  10. I don’t share that opinion. The Japanese SELENE probe did some mineral mappings but I think it would be worth while to do an even more accurate mapping.

    Reply
  11. We won’t be mining it tomorrow. All we will be doing is taking inventory. For the near future the most important things to find is platinum metals. Even at low concentration they would be worth smelting and flinging to earth.

    Reply
  12. We won’t be mining it tomorrow. All we will be doing is taking inventory. For the near future the most important things to find is platinum metals. Even at low concentration they would be worth smelting and flinging to earth.

    Reply
  13. I don’t share that opinion. The Japanese SELENE probe did some mineral mappings but I think it would be worth while to do an even more accurate mapping.

    Reply
  14. I don’t share that opinion. The Japanese SELENE probe did some mineral mappings but I think it would be worth while to do an even more accurate mapping.

    Reply
  15. We won’t be mining it tomorrow. All we will be doing is taking inventory. For the near future the most important things to find is platinum metals. Even at low concentration they would be worth smelting and flinging to earth.

    Reply
  16. I think we’ve already done as much as we can reasonably do with low-flying mapping satellites. Better to be on the ground taking direct samples now. Would be interesting to see how much it varies under the surface compared to the sun-baked and radiation-bombarded top layer. Caves would indeed be interesting, but a whole ‘nother layer of difficulty in terms of moving around remotely or robotically.

    Reply
  17. I think we’ve already done as much as we can reasonably do with low-flying mapping satellites. Better to be on the ground taking direct samples now. Would be interesting to see how much it varies under the surface compared to the sun-baked and radiation-bombarded top layer.Caves would indeed be interesting but a whole ‘nother layer of difficulty in terms of moving around remotely or robotically.

    Reply
  18. I think we’ve already done as much as we can reasonably do with low-flying mapping satellites. Better to be on the ground taking direct samples now. Would be interesting to see how much it varies under the surface compared to the sun-baked and radiation-bombarded top layer.

    Caves would indeed be interesting, but a whole ‘nother layer of difficulty in terms of moving around remotely or robotically.

    Reply
  19. Drilling is a good idea. A better idea would be low flying high resolution prospectors looking for ores containing platinum metals, water and He3. The information collected would be then fed into a material sampling program which would include drilling. The other thing to explore is caves.

    Reply
  20. Drilling is a good idea. A better idea would be low flying high resolution prospectors looking for ores containing platinum metals water and He3. The information collected would be then fed into a material sampling program which would include drilling. The other thing to explore is caves.

    Reply
  21. Drilling is a good idea. A better idea would be low flying high resolution prospectors looking for ores containing platinum metals, water and He3. The information collected would be then fed into a material sampling program which would include drilling.

    The other thing to explore is caves.

    Reply

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