Rotherham scientists commissioned to mine oxygen from moon rock

Scientists from Rotherham have won a contract from the European Space Agency to develop a process to mine oxygen from moon rock.

The firm Metalysis will spend nine-months to develop the technology, which will be used on the moon over the next five years.

Their aim is to turn moon rock into oxygen and metal power. The oxygen can then be used to sustain human life on the moon, and as rocket fuel during further space exploration.

500g

of oxygen can be extracted from 1kg of moon rock

The metal powder left after the oxygen is extracted consists of iron, aluminium and silicon which can be used to build tools, structures and launchpads - and the eventual construction of a petrol station on the moon.

The main thing is to get actually to Mars, so what this is as a sort of stepping stone to get to Mars so being able to produce oxygen on the moon we can stay there for longer we can use that as  a launchpad to get further in to space

Ian Mellor, Metalysis

There are plans to put humans back on the moon as early as 2024 and go further in to space from there. 

What they breathe and what they build there will be partly thanks to the work of scientists nearly 240,000 miles away in South Yorkshire.