Our team is working on two separate, exciting projects. We have the majority of the team working hard on the Sabatier Fuel Plant, dedicated to producing rocket propellant on Mars. A specialized team of Mining and Geological engineers is working on the HELIOS, a interplanetary resource extraction project. Check them out below!
Sabatier Fuel Plant
Having a reliable source of fuel on Mars will be quintessential to the development of a Martian colony. Our team hopes to help solve this problem and produce a prototype of the system. From there we will be able to determine realistic numbers for what it would take to refuel a rocket in one launch window’s time. Our team will determine the amount of energy required, amount of money it will require, as well as the time it will take to set up a full-scale system. This project will involve engineering of many types, primarily chemical, mechanical, electrical, and software will be implemented to handle typical failure modes.
Building a fuel reactor involves various different components, these components will be broken down into various sub-teams. Previously, we havebegan reserach with the Feasibility and Integration sub-team which has been researching aspects for the design of systems that don’t immediately fall into the realm of the prototype fuel plant. This includes: researching landing sites, extraction and electrolysis of water, pressurizing and concentrating carbon dioxide, and researching the costs to implement systems based on current technology. The other subteams are devoted to the design and analysis for our modular reactor – which began development in June 2019.
The HELIOS Project is a sub-team of Mars Colony focuses on resource extraction in space outside of our current main projects. In order to be able to make interstellar colonization a possibility, we must understand how to use resources available to us. A large focus of this team will be how economically feasible interplanetary resource extraction will be.
The HELIOS Team’s current project is the Lunar Extraction of Helium-3 (He-3) for Nuclear Fusion. The goal of the sub-team is to propose a design that is economically and politically feasible for a mining operation on the lunar surface. He-3 has been researched as a potential alternative energy source via nuclear fusion for at least multiple decades now. However, as the main source of He-3 usually comes from the maintenance of nuclear weapons, its supply is extremely limited on Earth (< 15 kg/annum).
The general process will be broken down into three parts, similar to mines on Earth:
- Extraction – The physical acquisition of the Regolith from the lunar surface
- Liberation – Heating the rock that was just extracted, to liberate He-3 from the lunar rock
- Processing – The final stage of preparing He-3 for transport
Currently, we are just in the planning phase of this project and are in the processes of developing the most economical method of extraction.
In its raw form, it has many applications in science and medicine which makes it valuable priced at $2000/L due to current supply and demand. Since Helium is not very heavy nor dense, it takes nearly 6000 L to weigh 1 kg, therefore 1 kg of He-3 costs over 10 million dollars!
We plan to submit abstracts to both the IAC and the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy, and Petroleum (CIM) for this project. The main hurdle faced by the team currently is the sheer quantity of lunar rock that must be processed, which is on the order of millions of tons!
Below is a photo of our small but determined HELIOS sub-team. If any of this interests you please feel free to submit your resume here!