In Situ Resource Utilization and Space Mining


In Situ Resource Utilization and Space Mining


Kris Zacny

About the Speaker

Dr. Kris Zacny is Vice President and Director of Exploration Technology Group at Honeybee Robotics. His expertise includes robotic terrestrial and extraterrestrial drilling, excavation, sample handling and processing, geotechnical systems, and sensors. In his previous capacity as an engineer in South African mines, Dr. Zacny managed numerous mining projects and production divisions. Dr. Zacny received his PhD (UC Berkeley, 2005) in Geotechnical Engineering with emphasis on Mars drilling, ME (UC Berkeley, 2001) in Petroleum Engineering with emphasis on Drilling and Materials Science, and BSc cum laude (U. Cape Town, 1997) in Mechanical Engineering. He participated in several Arctic, Antarctic, Atacama, and Greenland expeditions. Dr Zacny has over 150 publications related to extreme drilling and excavation, including an edited book titled “Drilling in Extreme Environments: Penetration and Sampling on Earth and Other Planets”. Dr. Zacny has been a Principal Investigator and a Co-Investigator of over 100 NASA and DoD funded projects. He has over 40 NASA New Technology Records and three NASA Group Achievement Awards.



In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) and Space mining are concepts developed by science fiction writers a while ago. However, only now technologies reach maturation level where ISRU and Space mining could actually be feasible. ISRU, in general terms, refers to using local resources to enable or enhance robotic and human exploration. For example water can be mined on the Moon and processed to sustain human presence for longer duration. Space mining, in most terms, refers to mining space resources for commercial gains. For example water can be mined on asteroids, electrolyzed into H2 and O2 and shipped back to Earth to refuel GEO and LEO satellites. In recent years, several companies were funded to do just that. This presentation will give a background to ISRU and space mining and then several examples of current and future missions.


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Publication Date



Grand Forks, ND

In Situ Resource Utilization and Space Mining