Ibadan, 17 January 2024. – The UK Space Agency (UKSA), in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and Nesta’s Challenge Works, has launched the Aqualunar Challenge – a £1.2m challenge prize to reward the development of new technologies that can purify water ice found in the Moon’s soil. As part of their contribution to the Artemis Missions, the UKSA and CSA hope these technologies will go on to support a permanent crewed lunar base, providing a source of water for drinking and growing food, as well as a source of oxygen for air and hydrogen for fuel.
The Aqualunar Challenge will consequently award UK-led start-ups with seed funding to develop technologies to purify ice buried beneath the Moon’s surface to make human habitation on the Moon viable. The UK-led teams behind the ten most promising ideas will receive seed funding of £30k each to develop their ideas in June. However, in March 2025, three teams will be named the winner and runners-up, sharing in an additional £300k to take their solutions to the next level.
Commenting about the challenge, Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: “The UK is playing an important role in the NASA-led Artemis Missions, which aim to establish a permanent crewed base on the Moon’s surface by the end of the decade. This will only be possible if astronauts have reliable access to water, and it is far better to source that water on the Moon than to send it up from Earth.”