Design and Preliminary Testing of Low-Energy Planetary Excavator


Development of a permanent human base on the Moon for exploration requires a self sustaining system. This entails production and processing of limited amounts of raw material on the Moon. Any mining and construction activities on the Moon can only be performed by a robust excavation machine that can excavate a variety of material from loose surface regolith to consolidated (frozen) regolith with embedded rocks in the mixture. Meanwhile, limited amount of information on lunar regolith is available to develop and optimize a machine for given lunar ground conditions. Therefore, any excavator designed for use on the lunar surface should have the ability to adapt to a wide range of operating conditions. A prototype cutterhead for the lunar excavator was built and tested at the Kennametal facility in Latrobe PA A. This paper discusses the results of initial material characterization as well as full scale tests of a prototype cutterhead inrelevent material. A brief review of anticipated production rates under various assumed ground conditions will also be presented.

Meeting Name

SME Annual Meeting & Exhibit and CMA's 111th National Western Mining Conference (2009: Feb. 22-25, Denver, CO)


Mining Engineering

Second Department

Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Lunar Surface Analysis; Construction equipment; Construction industry; Excavation; Mining machinery; Raw materials

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2009 Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Inc. (SME), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Feb 2009

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