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

Fri, 10/08/2021 - 12:06
GSP Ident.: 
S 2020-02-b
Keywords: 
Space debris
recycling
Contractor: 
Orbit Recycling
Country: 
Germany
Start Date: 
Monday, October 26, 2020
End Date: 
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Description: 

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 recognized. The German recycling industry alone generates more revenue than the entire European space industry. Nevertheless, this treasure was never lifted in space. The conducted study 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 costly material transports from Earth and could act as an interim solution until lunar In-Situ-Resource-Utilization (ISRU) technology becomes available. The estimated price of 150,000 euro per kilogram of recycled aluminium on the Moon should at least be cost-competitive.