The Canadian Space Agency has awarded Capreol, Ontario’s Deltion Innovations Ltd. a $700,000 contract to develop a combination drill and rotary multi-purpose tool for mining in space.
The announcement will be made this afternoon at Deltion’s test facility in Capreol, a municipality in the Greater Sudbury area, with Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre in attendance.
The device, which the company describes as a “space-age Swiss Army knife”, is designed to drill into rock or other materials to capture various samples and would be installed on the end of a robotic arm, helping astronauts prospect for ice or water or mineral resources on the Moon or Mars or beyond.
The project is part of the CSA’s space technology development program and has been given the acronym “PROMPT” (Percussive and Rotary Multi-Purpose Tool).
The device, which runs on solar power and weighs about 20 kilograms, will be used for collecting rock samples for mining purposes, but can also be used for construction, maintenance and repairs.
Deltion, which will be subcontracting to Kanata’s Neptec Design Group and North Bay’s Atlas Copco, has been working with the Canadian Space Agency and NASA on the development of drilling technology for the RESOLVE payload destined for the Lunar Resource Prospector Mission, scheduled for 2018.
In November, with the intention of encouraging commercial space exploration, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that declares, “A United States citizen engaged in commercial recovery of an asteroid resource or a space resource under this chapter shall be entitled to any asteroid resource or space resource obtained, including to possess, own, transport, use, and sell the asteroid resource or space resource obtained in accordance with applicable law, including the international obligations of the United States.”
And in February, Luxembourg launched a collaboration with US and European commercial partners aimed at turning the tiny country into the European centre of the space mining industry.
In 2014, Deltion began testing a drill that could operate in temperatures hovering around minus 180 degrees Celsius (temperatures on the Moon are approximately minus 220 Celsius).