Kick off of Metalysis – ESA Grand Challenge: the Race to Mine Space

Kick off of Metalysis – ESA Grand Challenge: the Race to Mine Space [Dec/2019]

A Global Space Economic Forum was held at the New Space Economy European Expoforum

On 11 December, during the Global Space Economic Forum, ESA together with Metalysis officially kicked off the first ESA Grand Challenge. 

Metalysis’ CEO, Ray Power announced the competition on during the event. The competing teams – jointly selected by ESA and Metalyis – will start to work on the challenge to win the half-million EUR purse.


Ray Power, CEO at Metalysis, presented at the Global Space Economic Forum

As ESA and other agencies prepare to send humans back to the Moon – this time to stay – technologies that make use of materials available in space (in-situ resource utilisation) are seen as key to sustainability, and a stepping stone in humankind's adventure to Mars and farther into the Solar System.


Eric Morel de Westgaver, ESA Director of Industry, Procurement and Legal Services, ESA Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, Ray Power, CEO at Metalysis and Luca del Monte, ESA Head of Industrial Policy and SME Division

ESA is encouraging European industry to invest in the development of optimised technologies and systems that support future space exploration, the added benefit being that these ideas can also address sustainability and scarcity of resources on Earth.

Key sectors include metallurgy, chemical processing, mining, as well as oil and gas industry. In the longer term, resources in space may even be used on Earth.

The ESA Grand Challenge is part of the Agency’s Space 4.0 commitment to competitions that create new European entrepreneurs, innovation-led start-ups and new ventures.

Metalysis in South Yorkshire, has spent more than a decade developing and scaling up its electrochemical technology; a process that converts refined oxides and ores directly into valuable metal alloy powders used in 3D printing for aerospace, automotive and high-value manufacturing.

The competitors are devising process-monitoring systems that will work with the Metalysis electrochemical cells in space, support sustainable operations and long-term planetary settlements. 

The requirements of the Metalysis–ESA Grand Challenge are available here.

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