Canadian Space Agency

Aqualunar Challenge

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Applications to this Challenge will be accepted until 11:59 Pacific Time on April 8th, 2024


Transcript

Sustaining a long-term human presence on the lunar surface comes with many difficulties, including increasing access to usable water and propellant.

At 480 million kilometers away from Earth, more ambitious space exploration missions to Mars and even beyond will require the need for space-based resources.

Water, a critical resource both on earth and in space, can be used as both usable water, and can be split into hydrogen and oxygen to be used as propellant for rockets, but there is evidence that it contains several contaminants that currently make it unusable.

That’s why the Canadian Space Agency and Impact Canada are launching the Aqualunar Challenge. We are looking for ideas and solutions that will support filtering or purifying water on the Moon which may also support advancements in novel water purification technologies here on earth.

The Challenge aims to minimize energy consumption and engage in resource recovery to support long-term human presence on the lunar surface and support a circular lunar economy.

To learn more, visit impact.canada.ca.

 

Purifying Moon Water: Supporting Human Exploration on the Moon, and Beyond

Water - a critical resource on Earth and in space - is necessary to support future human space exploration. It is very likely that water exists on the Moon, but it contains contaminants. Removing the current known contaminants from Moon water to grow food and provide propellant and drinking water would not only help support human space exploration, it could also help advance water purification technologies here on Earth.

Canada is going to the Moon. With this return to the lunar surface, we must find sustainable ways to support long-term space missions.

The Problem

With humankind returning to the Moon later this decade, purifying the water that exists in lunar regolith (soil) is critical to enabling more ambitious space missions. Using lunar water-as drinking water, to grow food, to create oxygen and to split into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel- is a key enabler for supporting future deep space exploration.

Data suggests that large quantities of water ice may exist in permanently shadowed regions near the lunar south pole. But this water contains a number of contaminants preventing its use unless it is purified.


The Challenge

The Aqualunar Challenge is calling Canadian innovators to create innovative technologies for use on the Moon to purify lunar water. These technologies may also contribute to novel water purification technologies here on Earth.

The Canadian Challenge is delivered by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in partnership with the Privy Council Office’s Impact Canada program, situated within the Impact and Innovation Unit (IIU).

Stages

  • Stage 1- Concept Design: Challenge launched on January 17, 2024. Applications are open until April 8, 2024 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time. Teams will provide a detailed explanation of how their solution meets the Challenge objectives, Mission Scenario and judging criteria.
  • Stage 2- Proof of Concept: Beginning in June of 2024, semi-finalists selected in Stage 1 will move on to Stage 2 of the Challenge, where they will begin developing the key components of their prototypes based on their concept design (equivalent to a TRL 3). Semi-finalists will be expected to submit video footage to demonstrate their system or components of their system and will provide a final report that outlines how their technology meets the judging criteria listed.
  • Stage 3- Prototype Scaling: At this stage, selected finalists will have 10 months to integrate the components of their prototypes (minimum TRL 4). Finalists will demonstrate their systems and have their outputs tested and will be competing to be the Grand Prize Winner of the Challenge.
  • Canadian Grand Prize Winner for the Aqualunar Challenge will be announced in Spring of 2026.

Who Can Apply to the Challenge?

We are looking for Canadian innovators to apply to the Aqualunar Challenge. Please see the Applicant Guide for more eligibility details.

Interested UK applicants may refer to the website for more information on how to register and apply to the Challenge.


Prizes

Up to 8 Prizes of $22,500 CAD

Open to all eligible innovators submitting a Stage 1 Concept Design

Up to 4 Finalists of $105,000 CAD

Open to all semi-finalists participating in Stage 2

1 Grand Prize Winner at $400,000 CAD

Open to all finalists participating in Stage 3

Note: The number of winners and the prize amounts may vary depending on the number of applications received. For each stage, prize amounts will not be less than the amounts indicated above.

The Aqualunar Challenge is a project of international collaboration between the United Kingdom (UK) and Canada, with joint but distinct tracks for each country. This website relates to the Canadian Aqualunar Challenge.

In Canada, the Challenge is organized and delivered by the Canadian Space Agency in partnership with the Privy Council Office’s Impact Canada program, situated within the Impact and Innovation Unit.

In the UK, the Aqualunar Challenge is delivered by Challenge Works on behalf of the UK Space Agency. If you are a UK Applicant looking to apply, learn more here: aqualunarchallenge.org.uk/.

Canadian Space Agency United Kingdom Space Agency logo Challenge Works logo
 

Challenge details

Who can apply?

Eligible Applicants to the challenge include the following:

  • Businesses or other for-profit organizations in Canada;
  • Not-for-profit organizations in Canada;
  • Indigenous organizations and groups located in Canada;
  • Post-secondary/academic institutions located in Canada; and
  • Individuals or groups of individuals based in Canada.

Individuals or groups of individuals are encouraged to submit an application to the challenge, but in order to be eligible to receive prizes, they will be required to establish a Canadian legal entity (such as a corporation or a not-for-profit organization) capable of entering into binding agreements in Canada.

Key Dates

Stage 1

  • Concept Design due April 8th, 2024
  • Up to 8 Semi-Finalists Announced: Summer 2024

Stage 2

  • Begins June 2024
  • Final Reports and virtual demonstration videos due January 2025
  • Up to 4 Finalists Announced: Spring 2025

Stage 3

  • Begins Spring 2025
  • Applications due: January 2026

Canadian Grand Prize Winner

  • Announced in Spring 2026