Extra terrestrial: space mining is bedrock of Sudbury research venture.

Author:Gregorini, Laura

From space mining suits to terrestrial robotics, Sudbury's Deltion Innovations is immersed in groundbreaking research and development of space mining technologies and techniques.

Although the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT) eliminated its Innovation and Prototype Development Department earlier this year, the same work it started in 1995 will continue under the new for-profit corporation, said Deltion CEO Dale Boucher.

"There was no longer any interest by NORCAT to carry on space activity and so we thought there was a good opportunity here for Sudbury. We had developed a good global image and so to continue the work of the department we elected to create this company"

Among the work it will continue is the RESOLVE project (Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatile Extraction), started in 2005, which will confirm the presence of hydrogen, potentially in the form of water ice on the moon. The intent is to use the drilling technology developed here in the 2018 Resource Prospector mission to the moon.

Boucher is one of eight former NORCAT employees who work under the Deltion umbrella, all of whom are owners of the new company. The mandate of Deltion is to evolve the manufacture, fabrication and design of space mining equipment and terrestrial mining robotics, said Boucher. In the past the group of experts has worked with NASA and the Canadian Space Agency developing space mining hardware and specific drilling and excavation systems.

Deltion is also looking at space-derived technologies and trying to adapt them to the terrestrial mining environment.

"We do have a contract with NASA to evolve excavation systems with them for space." Boucher explained. "We have just completed some contracts with the Canadian Space Agency looking at a possible flight opportunity to the moon to prospect for water ice. We've been involved in drilling technology specific to that project. And we have other projects with the mining industry looking at space-derived technology. For this project we're looking at space suit technology developed by the Kennedy Space Centre and the Canadian Space Agency and how we might apply that to the mining environment for deep mines, for example."


Deltion is also exploring other space-derived technologies for remotely deployable communication systems....

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