TransAstra Awarded NIAC Phase 3 Project
June 12, 2019, Joel C. Sercel
TransAstra is pleased to announce this exciting breaking news. TransAstra and Momentus have been selected for a first of a kind ($2M NASA + $1M private investment) NIAC Phase 3 program to build an engineering model of the Mini Bee™ asteroid mining orbital demonstrator.
Mini Bee will use the Momentus Vigoride™ orbital shuttle spacecraft bus and fly into orbit as a piggyback on an ESPA ring launch to low Earth orbit along with a man made miniature asteroid which will be released into orbit separately from the Mini Bee. Mini Bee will chase down and capture the synthetic asteroid and demonstrate asteroid mining and water extraction along with high thrust water based propulsion.
NASA NIAC Announcement
Dr. Sercel is deeply honored to be named a five time NIAC Fellow with this award, but it is important for everyone to know that this is a team effort! The team that will be doing this work includes a huge contribution from the following: Momentus, L'Garde Inc., Techno Planet Incorporated, the University of Central Florida CLASS group, and Colorado School of Mines.
TransAstra Selected for Lunar Polar Mining Outpost NIAC Phase 1 Study
May 2019, Joel C. Sercel
It is an honor and a delight for Dr. Sercel to be the Principal Investigator on a new NASA NIAC funded study of how to build an affordable Lunar Polar Mining Outpost (LPMO).! TransAstra studies show that the LPMO will save NASA tens and then hundreds of billions of dollars and then enable the development of an affordable lunar hotel (Jeff Bezos please note) and eventual larger settlements. This work is based on several key TransAstra innovations including the use of super lightweight towers made of tensegrity structures as designed by the Prof. Robert Skelton of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Texas A&M.
Key collaborators on this study are Prof. Dan Britt and Dr. Kevin Cannon of the University of Central Florida Center for Lunar and Asteroidal Sure Science (CLASS). The CLASS team is the best in the world at the planetary surface science for how to mine useful materials in space. TransAstra is most grateful to the NASA NIAC team for giving us this opportunity. The actual Patent Pending water mining process we have invented and are planning to study in this effort is based on the mixed use of microwave and infrared heaters coupled with a Patent Pending new type of continuous flow cryopump that allows a rover to scope up the water from the permafrost without excavation or digging in any way. One way to think about the planned rovers is as an autonomous water lawn mower.
UCF Researchers Prospecting for Mining-Outpost Site on Moon
Two Exciting TransAstra Wins to Announce
Published on March 31, 2017
Today must be one of those "Once in a Blue Moon" days as TransAstra has two wins to announce today!
NASA has selected TransAstra and our partner Prof. Robert Jedicke of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy (IfA) for a NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I study to look at extending synthetic tracking in a new innovation we call Compound Synthetic Tracking™ (CST™). Beyond synthetic tracking, CST™ allows multiple optical assemblies to work together synergistically, first to survey the sky for asteroids, and then to study them in an exciting new "characterization mode" to determine target diameter and to asses volatile content as candidate targets for resources recovery missions.
What is a resource recovery mission? That is when we will fly our Honey Bee™ spacecraft (see Figure) and use our patent pending Optical Mining™ technology to harvest hundreds of tons of rocket propellant from the asteroids and bring them back to cislunar space for sale. Of course we have a letter of agreement from the United Launch Alliance (UAL) to buy rocket propellant made from asteroid resources for use in cislunar space. Another major prospective customer for the rocket fuel is NASA, and don't count out Below and Blue Origin with their ambitions for cislunar tourism. Also, for those with Mars ambitions, why go to Mars to mine permafrost when you haven't done it first at the lunar poles and asteroids? It is best to fuel up in Earth orbit from cheaper supplies before launching out into the depths of space.
That brings us to our second big announcement today. We have already performed dozens of subscale demonstrations of Optical Mining™ in collaboration with our colleagues Professors Chris Dryer and Angel Abbud-Madrid at the Colorado School of Mines. Now it is time to go big with our NIAC Phase 2 funded Optical Mining Test Bed (OMTB™). Over the next two years we will be working with the Colorado School of Mines to build and operate the OMTB™ to mature the technology of Optical Mining™, not just for asteroid propellant harvesting, but also for the icy lunar polar craters and the Martian moons. The OMTB™ will use the world's biggest light bulb, a 32 kW short arc high pressure xenon system, to deliver up to 10 kW optical power, power not only for Optical Mining™ tests, but also for demonstrating high performance solar thermal propulsion and for doing basic science on asteroid disruption.
We are over the moon again today to make these announcements, and are working on other deals and developments. If you are interested in exciting new developments in the game of space resources, follow Joel Sercel on twitter @JoelSercel and on FB at https://www.facebook.com/JoelSercelPhD/