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A Concept Design to Enable Lunar Mining
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering.
2022 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The space industry has been accelerating technological evolution since its inception. It has resulted in countless innovations being adapted and eventually finding their way into people's everyday life. It has also played a significant role in understanding life itself and the circumstances that are necessary to support it. A crucial step in obtaining an even further understanding of humanity's place in the universe is truly comprehending the Moon and its mysteries. In order to do the previously mentioned a manned research operation to the Moon is necessary.

However, doing this requires an in-situ resources utilization (ISRU) approach due to the complexity as well as cost of launching material and equipment to space. The Moon holds a lot of valuable resources from which several critical substances and materials can be extracted, e.g., oxygen and hydrogen. In order to make use of the locally available resources, such as the regolith, a standardized approach is necessary.  There are several ways of designing something tasked with mining the Moon as well as enabling supporting activities, e.g., infrastructure development. A Design Thinking approach was used in order to get clarity regarding on how a concept doing this might look like. This thesis deals with the topic on a high, conceptual level due to the complexity of the subject.

The needfinding and literature study provided background and context to design a solution enabling the earlier mentioned goal. The solution is a swarm system of Lunar rovers that are capable of operating together, as a unit, as well as on their own depending on the nature of the task that is performed. The activities are performed by interchangeable tool modules operated by the robots rather than the robots themselves. This provides prerequisites for a more flexible as well as resilient mission operation compared to many other scenarios. The interchangeable modules mechanism is the most important aspect of the proposed concept. Another important aspect concerning the platform of the concept is that it enables an infrastructure for new activities post-launch as long as the module fulfills some constraints. The thesis provides concepts for the robot, a regolith collector module as well as the container module.

As a means of verifying the concept, a subsystem was selected and tested. The subsystem that was chosen was the module exchanging mechanism. Thus, a conceptual version of this was built and tested. The test was delimited and intended to determine whether an approach using screws and movable arms was appropriate to pick up a simplified container module. The test performed concluded that the subsystem has potential, even though a more similar mechanism to the one actually envisioned would be necessary to test. However, there are certain iterations that beneficially may be performed prior to a complete representation of the module equipping mechanism is built.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2022.
Keywords [en]
Lunar Mining, Swarm Robotics, Lunar rover
National Category
Other Mechanical Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-23052OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-23052DiVA, id: diva2:1664757
External cooperation
Canadian Space Mining Coorporation (CSMC)
Subject / course
Degree Project in Master of Science in Engineering 30,0 hp
Educational program
MTACI Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2022-06-22 Created: 2022-06-05 Last updated: 2022-06-22Bibliographically approved

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