This content is not published

Analysis of space debris recycling potential to supply raw materials for construction on the Moon

Fri, 05/06/2022 - 18:14
Start Date: 
End Date: 
Programme Reference: 
S 2020-02-b
Orbit Recycling

As on Earth, space debris should not only be seen as a threat. Instead, the value of waste as a recycled good should be understood. On Earth, this potential is already fully recognised. The German recycling industry alone generates more revenue than the entire European space industry. Nevertheless, this treasure was never lifted in space.

This study, conducted by Frank Koch, Orbit Recycling, substantiates the thesis, that recycling of space debris is a challenge, but within the framework of Europe`s technical capabilities. The recycling of raw materials for space manufacturing seems to be the initially low-hanging fruit and objects with a high aluminium content the ideal recycling target.

Space agencies around the world expressed their interests in a lunar ground station in the Global Exploration Roadmap (GER), which drives the demand for construction material on the Moon. A supply through the recycling of space debris would avoid the transportation of costly material from Earth and could act as an interim solution until lunar In-Situ-Resource-Utilisation (ISRU) technology becomes available. The estimated price of 150 000 euros per kilogram of recycled aluminium on the Moon should at least be cost-competitive.

Application Domain: 
Technology Domain: 
22 - Environmental Control & Life Support (ECLS) and In Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU)
24 - Materials and Manufacturing Processes
11 - Space Debris
Competence Domain: 
2-Structures, Mechanisms, Materials, Thermal
10-Astrodynamics, Space Debris and Space Environment
Space debris