(Courtesy/Helios Project) (Courtesy/Helios Project)
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Innovative Israeli technology being developed will allow oxygen to be produced from lunar soil to power space colonies and space exploration.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Space exploration is getting a boost from an Israeli startup that is developing technology to extract oxygen from lunar and Martian soil to be used by future space missions, Israel Hayom is reporting.

The Helios Project recently got funding from the Israel Space Agency and the Ministry of Energy for an oxygen extraction system that is expected to be launched in the next few years.

At the heart of the technology is their “molten regolith electrolysis reactor,” a furnace that separates the abundant oxides found all over the surface of the moon and Mars into oxygen and various metals, including Iron, Aluminun and Titanium.

The oxygen is obviously a vital component of lunar colonies and will be used to power rocket ships, while the metals can be used to manufacture both tanks to hold the oxygen and parts for space ships and extra-terrestrial colonies.

The Helios team says the ultimate fulfillment of the project’s goals is the establishment of the required infrastructure and utilities for future human colonization of Mars and the Moon, and they think that will be done by autonomous construction robots.

Over 50 lunar missions are planned for the next five years, all of which will require thousands of tons of oxygen, comprising some 70% of the weight of rockets that propel shuttles into space, Israel Hayom reported.

“So that we don’t have to move endless amounts of equipment to the space station, causing life off planet Earth to get bottlenecked, we need to think in terms of infrastructure when it comes to producing raw materials from natural resources,” said Helios co-founder and CEO Jonathan Geifman, emphasizing how his technology can make space exploration self-sustaining.

The director general of the Israeli Space Agency, Avi Blasberger, foresees that Israel can help play a key role in opening up the solar system.

“Helios’ revolutionary technology to produce oxygen from lunar soil with the need for raw materials from Earth will reduce the costs of the launch, expand the amount of cargo, and in future also allow long-term human presence in deep space,” said Blasberger.

“We foresee that the return to the moon entailing NASA’s Artemis program will create major business opportunities for the space industry in general and the Israeli space industry in particular. Helios, which got its start as part of an entrepreneurial workshop during Israel Space Week, is an excellent example of a groundbreaking Israeli startup that will lead and take a central part in this developing trend,” Blasberger noted.

Adding his weight to the development is famous Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman, known for appearing in many commercials for Israeli products. Freeman’s impressive voice-over on the Helios Project video explains how the Israeli technology will help power the next generation of space exploration.

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