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Definition of a European Lunar Materials Handling and Geotechnics Payload



Prime contractor
Organisational Unit
Activity Type
10 December 2020

Duration: 12 months


ISRU is a requirement for any sustainable and persistent human presence on the Moon. Many groups are focused on core ISRU processes to take lunar mineralogy and transform it into, or extract, usable products or are taking ISRU products and considering how to fabricate and manufacture useful structures and items. Such work is only relevant to lunar implementation if it works in a complete end-to-end system. A key enabling part of an overall system is how relevant materials – primarily particulate matter such as lunar regolith and processed derivatives – behave in the unique lunar environment. The combined consequences of lunar gravity, radiation, thermal, electrostatic and chemical environments have profound effects on the basic materials properties of lunar regolith and related materials. These effects propagate to higher-level design considerations when materials need to be excavated, poured, conveyed, separated, emptied, etc. The alien lunar environment means that centuries of knowledge of relevant materials handling on Earth cannot be translated simply to the Moon. The inability to simultaneously simulate on Earth all the lunar environments and their overlapping effects poses a significant risk to future lunar implementation as basic properties of lunar materials relevant to materials handling will have not been adequately explored and understood. For essential de-risking, we propose the study of relevant fundamental aspects of materials handling directly in the lunar environment. We propose a dedicated lunar payload to perform such studies, the results of which will underpin and enhance a broad swath of other work. We provisionally name this the “European Lunar Materials Handling and Geotechnics Payload” and propose to perform an initial study to expand the science and technology case, establish the payload requirements, produce an initial payload design, roadmap future developments and establish a community to support delivery and exploitation of the payload.

Contract number
OSIP Idea Id
Related OSIP Campaign
Off-Earth Manufacturing
Main application area
Definition of a European Lunar Materials Handling and Geotechnics Payload