The Mexican Space Agency (AEM) has revealed it has signed an agreement that will see the agency extract minerals from the Moon.
US aviation company, Airbus has signed a memorandum of understanding with AEM and the Mexican start-up Dereum Labs to collaborate on the technologies needed for lunar resources extraction.
The agreement is the first step in the creation of a new Mexican In-Situ Resources Utilisation (ISRU) Programme for lunar extraction and will develop the necessary industrial ecosystem for this technology in-country.
A ground demonstration concept is planned as part of this new programme. It will develop an end-to-end process from regolith identification and capture to extraction of resources. Specialist Mexican universities will also be invited to contribute to the project. This strategic demonstration will develop in-situ resource utilisation (ISRU) and Mexican capabilities, paving the way for future space exploration developments in Mexico and international cooperation with the private sector.
“This agreement represents the first step in a fruitful collaboration with Mexico in space activities,” said Victor de la Vela, Head of Airbus in Latin America & the Caribbean. “Being able to extract and process lunar resources is essential to sustain long term living on the Moon. This collaboration gathers the right partners with the latest technologies and capabilities for a clearer horizon in lunar exploration.”
Innovative technologies from Mexico will contribute to a sustainable presence of humankind on the Moon, said Airbus in a statement. Under the helm of AEM, technologies from Dereum Labs will be key to ISRU systems for using local Moon resources like regolith, to extract oxygen and metal, or to mine water.
“These will be crucial to sustain life on the Moon and provide the resources needed to explore further. If such technologies are demonstrated, resources such as oxygen, water and fuel will not need to be sent from Earth,” said a joint statement. “The journey towards a sustainable cis-lunar economy has started with Mexican technology aboard!”
“At Dereum Labs we envision and work for an interplanetary economy; in a few years, the industries that today are not related to space will be doing business on the Moon, Mars and beyond,” said Carlos Mariscal, CEO of Dereum Labs. “With this agreement, the Mexican Space Agency, Airbus Defence and Space and Dereum Labs are taking together a huge step towards that future; today Mexico is contributing to long-term human presence in space. We are absolutely thrilled!”
“A great objective of the Mexican Space Agency has been to promote talent and entrepreneurship among our new generations, as well as the space industry in the country, so we are very pleased with this alliance,” said the director general of the AEM, Dr Salvador Landeros Ayala.
Under the agreement Dereum Labs is developing swarms of low-cost, modular rovers to demonstrate the mobility and communicability of robotic vehicles on the Moon for data gathering and mapping of lunar resources. Airbus is focusing on the key requirements for a lunar ecosystem: it is developing the technology to get vehicles and cargo to the surface of the Moon and then to explore and extract resources. It is also developing the ROXY system to extract oxygen and metals from lunar regolith since they are key elements of a sustainable lunar presence.