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Deltion aims for the moon

November 25, 2013
by Scott Haddow
In: News, Supplier Showcase

Deltion Innovations CEO Dale Boucher.

Deltion Innovations Ltd. CEO Dale Boucher wants people to pay close attention to the new company, as it is going places. Far away places.

“If things go well, you will see our logo on the moon in 2018. Watch us,” Boucher said.

Deltion is an independently owned business spun out of the Innovation and Prototype Department of the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT). The department has been hard at work on space mining technologies since 1995.

When NORCAT decided to no longer continue the work last year, members of the department banded together to keep it alive.

Deltion is a private corporation, but is leasing space from NORCAT. There are nine shareholders, all former employees of the NORCAT Innovation and Prototype Department.

“We believe there is a great opportunity here,” Boucher said. “Our capabilities are rather unique in North America. We were encouraged by NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to continue. We think we are on the threshold of something great. We think Canada and the Canadian mining sector in particular can play a significant role in the space mining industry. We think, Canada being a leader in mining technologies, should lead the way. We all think it is worthwhile to continue our work.”

Drilling technology

The Deltion team has been designing and fabricating drilling and excavation technology for more than a decade, specializing in transferring and adapting technologies developed in the space sector to the terrestrial market and viceversa. Technology includes drilling and excavation systems, processing, power systems, remote operations and subsurface exploration equipment.

Launched officially in September, Deltion is already in full swing. The team is working with NASA and CSA on the development of drilling technology for the RESOLVE payload destined for the Lunar Resource Prospector Mission scheduled for 2018.

Deltion recently finished the concept study for a drill they will build for the mission. It is a tight deadline – going to the moon in four years – but one Boucher knows his team can meet.

“We looked at a diamond drill that can operate in a liquid-nitrogen environment and operate with little power to drill one-metre into frozen rock, dirt and water,” Boucher said. “Our concept comes in at under 100 watts of power. It is an interesting project. NASA is on a mission in 2018 to prospect for water and ice and they invited Canada to participate. We hope to be the provider for the drill.

NASA

Deltion is also in negotiations with NASA on a long-term contract and has done a concept study for the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation on space suit technology and how it can be adapted to improve the health of miners working at depth here on Earth.

“There are a lot of areas in which we can be beneficial to both the space mining industry and the mining industry,” Boucher said.

Deltion was formed with three main priorities. It wants to develop mining technologies and systems for space, robotic mining systems and technologies for Earth and adapt space-derived technologies for the mining industry.

And they want to do it in Sudbury. There is no other place they would rather be except for the moon or an asteroid or far away planet.

“We were keen to keep it in Sudbury,” Boucher said. “We had a lot of space agencies asking us why we’re not moving, but mining is in our blood in Sudbury. If the 2018 mission comes through, we will have to hire more staff quickly to meet the requirements.”

Deltion also negotiated the rights to host the Planetary and Terrestrial Mining Sciences Symposium, an annual event held since 2004, as well as the joint PTMSS/Space Resources Roundtable, held since 2012. The PTMSS, scheduled to be held in Boulder, Colorado in 2014, addresses the parallels between Earth-based mining and space mining.

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