Space Applications Service will develop and deliver a set of three reactors to produce oxygen from lunar soil through the FFC process for the European Space Agency.

The aerospace company on Wednesday (12th May) inked a contract for the delivery of the reactors which are set to optimise the oxygen production process for Lunar applications.

Under the contract, dubbed ISRULAB, will lead eight European companies and R&D institutes in a consortium to design and develop the FFC systems, as well as integrate them and optimise the process at the new European Space Resources Innovation Centre (ESRIC) in Luxembourg.

ISRULAB follows extensive work by Space Applications in ISRU and exploration systems where recently, the company has completed, as prime contractor, a contract to design a Phase-A Lunar Payload to demonstrate the extraction of oxygen from Lunar soil with two different chemical processes: FFC Cambridge and the Hydrogen Reduction of ilmenite, for the ESA in Situ Resource Utilisation Demonstration Mission.

Such work has been done in parallel with the development of a laboratory demonstrator of Hydrogen Reduction of Ilmenite. The new FFC system will be used to develop the technology and generate the additional process knowledge required to inform the mission.

“Today spacecraft must carry all the oxygen they need, for propulsion or life support, from Earth for the entire mission. Enabling spacecraft to “fill up” in space with locally sourced resources, such as oxygen, will play a key role in the exploration of the solar system over the next decades,” Space Applications Service said in a statement.

“The ability to extract oxygen from the lunar surface will enable the sustainability of these exploration efforts. The ISRU Demonstration Mission will show for the first time an end-to-end extraction process in a manner representative of a scaled production.”