Sudbury space miner partners with U.S. moon-going firm

Rick Mousseau, a senior mechanical technologist at Deltion Innovations Ltd. in Sudbury, works in the machine shop using a CNC milling machine in 2013. John Lappa/Subury Star file photo

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A local company will be collaborating with Moon Express, a private U.S. space-travel firm, to explore resource development on the lunar surface.

As a contractor to the Canadian Space Agency and NASA, the Sudbury-based Deltion has been developing space-mining systems for nearly two decades.

“The team approaches technology development from a terrestrial mining perspective and facilitates the transfer of technology between the terrestrial and space sectors,” according to a release.

“Their technology includes drilling and excavation systems, processing, power systems, mobility systems, remote operations and subsurface exploration equipment.”

Moon Express offers “lunar commercial robotic spacecraft transportation and data services, with a long-term goal of exploring and developing the moon’s resources,” the release states.

The engineering and test facilities for Moon Express are located at launch complexes at Cape Canaveral, Fla., adjacent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The two firms announced Wednesday they have inked a memorandum of understanding to partner on developing and deploying space mining and science payloads for the moon.

“This is a very important milestone for Deltion,” stated CEO Dale Boucher in the release. “This is an opportunity to provide a more balanced suite of capabilities for lunar exploration and lunar space mining.”

Boucher said the collaboration enables a “defined platform for launch, cruise, orbiting, landing and potential surface hopping, allowing us to offer more complete technical solutions for lunar science and lunar prospecting.”

These kind of capabilities are “absolutely critical,” said Boucher, “for early-stage mining exploration and for in situ resource utilization on the lunar surface. This collaboration will not only facilitate lunar mining activities at the early exploration stage of the mining cycle, but will also allow us to pre-test later stage mining activities such as excavation and mining infrastructure buildup.”

Moon Express founder and CEO Bob Richards said the U.S. space company is pleased have Deltion on board as its “first Canadian industry MOU.”

The partnership “will allow Moon Express to offer services to our customers to meet their science and exploration needs, especially in the area of lunar resources,” he said.

The long-term goal of Moon Express is to “discover and unlock the resources of the moon for the benefit of Earth and the evolution of humanity into a multi-world civilization,” according to a company statement.

Since its founding in 2010, the company has raised over $45 million in private investment from venture funds and a “wide range of individual investors, from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to celebrities.”

Deltion, which focuses on mining equipment design, says it has tailored its technology to lunar conditions by “specializing in small efficient lightweight systems and extreme environments.”