The moon is sexy again. Multiple national agencies and private firms are planning missions. Both NASA and ESA are planning lunar-outposts or space-gateways, with support from major industry players such as Airbus, Boeing, and Lockheed. The time frame for many of these plans is within the next decade. These plans will soon open doors for resources sourced from the moon or asteroids to be delivered in earth or lunar orbit or to the Martian surface.
With its immense experience in terrestrial resource infrastructure and extraction, Australia is well placed to take a leading role in space resource extraction and processing as well as become a leader in advanced in-space manufacturing, such as additive manufacturing or large-scale 3D printing.
In 2019 the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research and the UNSW School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering will jointly host the fourth biannual Off-Earth Mining Forum (OEMF): “Space Resource Utilisation for the NewSpace Economy”. In the years since this event was first realised (2013), the research and industrial backdrop have changed dramatically. Here at UNSW Sydney, we have been developing our capabilities in mission development and SRU research in conjunction with NASA and our industrial partners, enabling us to make substantial contributions to the burgeoning space economy that is now only a few years away.