Canadian Space Agency

Aqualunar Challenge

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The Challenge

The Challenge

Problem Statement

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 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.

Challenge Statement

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

Challenge Stages and Key Dates

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. Up to 8 Canadian Semi-Finalists with the most promising Concept Design report will receive $22,500 each in the Summer of 2024 and move on to Stage 2 of the Challenge.

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 TRL3). Semi finalists will be expected to submit video footage to demonstrate their systems or components of their systems. In Spring of 2025, up to 4 Canadian semi-finalists will receive $105,000 CAD each to move on to become Stage 3 finalists.

Stage 3- Prototype Scaling: At this stage, selected Finalists will have 10 months to integrate the components of their prototypes (minimum TRL 4+)2 starting in Spring of 2025. Finalists will demonstrate their systems and have their outputs tested, and the Grand Prize Winner of the Aqualunar Challenge will receive $400,000 CAD in Spring of 2026.

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

Who can apply to the Challenge?

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.

Interested UK Applicants may refer to the Challenge Works website for more information on how to register and apply. Please review the Applicant Guide in detail to confirm your eligibility before preparing and submitting your concept application.

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