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UK firm Metalysis wins contract to extract oxygen from moon rock

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By Euronews
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The deal is the first stepping stone in the bid to build a permanent station on the moon.
The deal is the first stepping stone in the bid to build a permanent station on the moon.   -   Copyright  Euronews

A British firm has been awarded a €280,000 contract by the European Space Agency to extract oxygen out of lunar rocks.

The North East England firm Metalysis can already remove the gas from rocks in a lab and now they hope to further adapt this process to work on the lunar surface.

If that works it could open up the possibility for extraction facilities on the moon that produce oxygen and valuable materials on the surface. Producing oxygen on the moon would bypass the expensive option of transporting it there.

Some hope that this could be the precursor to establishing a permanent base and long-term space exploration.

Mark Symes, a Senior Lecturer in Chemistry at the University of Glasgow, told Euronews that nearly half of these lunar rocks' mass is oxygen.

"The process has been developed from a system that works in the lab from the production of metals from their ores," Symes said.

"Lunar rocks are put into a device which passes an electric current through it and generates oxygen and metallic alloys," he added, explaining that this process is still in an early stage.

He said he hoped the work would "enable humans to conduct scientific research on the moon."