Israeli innovation will allow the production of oxygen from the moon’s surface

An Israeli start-up has developed a method of producing oxygen from the moon’s surface.

The project, named HELIOS after the company behind it, has received funding from the Israel Space Agency and is expected to develop a system that will launch two space missions over the next three years.

The technology behind the ambitious idea is based on an oven specially designed to extract oxygen and various metals directly from the moon’s surface, without requiring additional materials brought from the earth.

This potentially means a technology that will allow future human settlements on the Moon to live literally on earth for long periods of time without the need to constantly transport supplies from the earth.

“The technology we have developed is part of a value chain that will allow permanent bases to be established outside the limits of planet earth,” said HELIOS CEO and co-founder Jonathan Geifman, stressing the importance of focusing on basic infrastructure and the ability to produce raw materials from natural resources “to avoid transporting equipment indefinitely”. Jonathan Geifman, CEO and co-founder of HELIOS (Credit: Chaya Gold)Jonathan Geifman, CEO and co-founder of HELIOS (Credit: Chaya Gold)

And while the oxygen produced by HELIOS could be used by astronauts to breathe, most of it would be used to launch and operate spacecraft due to its role in the chemical process that leads to a combustion reaction.

According to HELIOS, “the current cost of launching materials and equipment to the Moon, Mars and not only restricts the chances of long-term extraterrestrial human presence.” However, about 45% of the total mass of Mars’ surface and moon is suitable for oxygen extraction, the company says.

This will be useful, given the amazing amount of oxygen needed for space travel. Supporting four astronauts on their journey to the moon and back requires about 10 tons of oxygen. For comparison, the launch of Elon Musk’s multifunctional spacecraft SpaceX is expected to cost about 850 tons of oxygen.

More than 50 missions per month are scheduled to take place over the next five years, which will require large amounts of oxygen. This is especially true given the recent collaboration announced between NASA and SpaceX, which aims to bring astronauts to the moon as early as 2024 for the first time in 1972.

But this time, the idea is to leave behind more than one flag – a permanent station. And here the unique innovation of the Israeli company can play an important role.

“HELIOS ‘revolutionary technology … will reduce launch costs, allow more payloads and allow long-term human presence in deep space in the future,” said Avi Blasberger, director general of the Israeli Space Agency, which is part of from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space.

“We expect the return of humanity to the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program to create significant business opportunities for the Israeli space industry and the space industry as a whole,” Blasberger added, congratulating HELIOS, “a pioneering Israeli start-up,” for that he led such an important development.

HELIOS was set up to update the vision of exploring space independent of Earth, according to its website. Notable names currently involved in the HELIOS project include William Larson, a former NASA project manager specializing in resource use; Bertil Andersson, former executive director of the European Science Foundation, and Yoav Landsman, a senior engineer who worked on the Beresheet project, which was Israel’s first attempt to land on the moon.