Announcing the Monero Moon Prize!
I pledge 10,000 Monero to the winner of a competition that begins right now. I will award the prize for completing a task which is very difficult, but not impossible. The prize of 10,000 Monero will be awarded to the first team or individual to operate a 3D printer on the moon. This 3D printer must use lunar soil as its raw print material and demonstrate that it can reliably produce custom mechanical components.
I have created a set of rules for the competition but I welcome feedback on the details. My desire is that following the competition, the winning team is able to continue to operate the 3D printer on the Moon’s surface and to indefinitely produce parts from lunar soil and sunlight.
- Safely deliver a payload to the surface of the Moon.
- Deploy 3D printer and some method of gathering soil for its continued operation.
- Print a series of 3 test parts from lunar soil using an additive manufacturing technique which does not rely on external binding agents from Earth. The printer cannot rely on supplies from Earth for its continued manufacture of parts.
- Minor manipulation and/or assembly of parts will be required.
- The build volume of the printer must be at least 150x150x150mm with dimensional tolerances to within 0.2mm of specifications. (Note: this level of performance is comparable to mid-priced 3D printers currently available in the home market)
- The ultimate tensile strength of the parts must be greater than 10 MPa in any direction (about 1/3 that of common glass).
- The winning team must meet these objectives on or before December 19, 2022; or 50 years since man last stepped foot on the Moon. We as a species must not go 50 years before taking our next step towards the Moon’s development.
Exponential Increase in Monero’s Value
The value of cryptocurrencies increases exponentially with adoption. A prize purse of 10,000 Monero is currently worth about $120,000. This meager amount is unlikely to incentivize a lunar mission, considering it costs roughly $15 million to launch a 10-kg payload to the Moon [1
]. However, if the market adoption of Monero becomes similar to what Bitcoin enjoys today, then the 10,000 Monero prize purse would be roughly a hundred times more valuable (~$12 million) and enough to recoup the majority of launch expenses.
The size of the prize could also increase through donations or pledges made by additional backers. Any team in the competition could offset their own costs by pursuing corporate sponsorships or pairing their entry for the Monero Moon Prize with another competition like the Google Lunar XPRIZE, where a team must have a robot move 500 m on the Moon’s surface[2
]. There are many possibilities for adding incentives to this competition, this is simply a first step.
What is Lunar Soil Made Of?
Glass and metal, mostly[3
]. Aluminum, titanium, tungsten, and iron. Volatiles like ice and many useful trace elements[5
]. Most soil particles are very fine with sharp angles, turned to powder through billions of years of meteoric impact. Older, more weathered particles have small bits of non-oxidized iron on their surface and imbedded within, making them efficiently heated with microwaves [8
] and levitate in magnetic fields[10
What Can Lunar Soil be Made Into?
Just about any solid object you can think of. Researchers have turned lunar soil simulant into gears, bolts, bricks, and bunkers[11
]. They do this by selectively melting the soil in a desired shape and then cooling it until it hardens. Possible heat sources include lasers, microwaves, and concentrated solar, to name a few.
Many technologies in use by DIY maker communities and additive manufacturers can be extended with little modification to the lunar environment. Candidate technologies include selective sintering and fused deposition modeling. In selective sintering, a laser or other heat source is directed at a bed of powder which is partially melted and allowed to re-harden. Here’s a demonstration of how simple the process can be
Fused deposition modeling is a type of 3D printing that you are probably most familiar with. Some material, typically plastic, is heated until it can be extruded out of a small nozzle. This extruded material is used to draw a 2D image on a flat surface. The height of the nozzle is then raised and another 2D image is drawn on top of the old. This process continues through many layers until a laminated 3D shape emerges. This technology was recently applied where small beads of optical glass acted as the raw print material[18
], a substance not too different from lunar soil[19
We can see from these examples that there are at least a few techniques for printing reliable parts from Moon dust. All major technical hurdles have been passed, now it’s just a matter of application-specific design.
Why a prize?
From the Orteig Prize sending aircraft across the Atlantic, to the Ansari XPRIZE sending private manned spacecraft to space, to the ongoing Google Lunar XPRIZE where teams are asked to drive a rover 500 m on the Moon, incentive competitions have simply been shown to work. Prizes are an effective way of directing the efforts of others towards a unified goal with potentially universal utility. I do not care who takes the first step in the extraterrestrial manufacturing revolution, just as long as someone takes it.
Prizes are an excellent investment. The prize backers only spend money if the competition garners a favorable result. The teams are compelled to initially spend their own resources to investigate several parallel designs. Incentive competitions have historically seen teams spend a combined $16 for every $1 used to fund the prize[22
]; this represents a remarkable 16:1 return on your investment in terms of total R&D!
A competition also adds extraneous benefits. Humans tend to be thrilled by competition. They love the challenge, the race against another pack of humans. A need emerges to quickly find a solution and win at all costs.
Good solutions to the most difficult problems have been found under these conditions and frequently within shortened timeframes. We as a species need the ability to extract material resources from extraterrestrial sources as quickly as possible. I believe an incentive competition is a fast, inexpensive, and exciting way for us all to realize that goal.
Who Am I?
I wish to remain anonymous and feel lucky that this right is afforded to me by Monero. I hold a higher degree in a field related to this competition and would be inclined towards continued technical discussions on these topics.
I will send the pledged funds to a multisig wallet held in escrow once that becomes a possibility, but reserve the right to withdraw my funds from the competition before the stated deadline if it appears that no reasonable effort is being made by any team to win the prize.
]McKay, David S., et al. "The lunar regolith." Lunar sourcebook (1991): 285-356.
]Noble, Sarah. "The Lunar Regolith." (2009).
]Duke, Michael B., et al. "Development of the Moon." Reviews in mineralogy and geochemistry 60.1 (2006): 597-655.
]Taylor, Jeff, Larry Taylor, and Mike Duke. "Concentrations of Volatiles in the Lunar Regolith." (2007).
]Crawford, Ian A. "Lunar resources: A review." Progress in Physical Geography 39.2 (2015): 137-167.
]Taylor, Lawrence, et al. "Lunar Dust Problem: From Liability to Asset." 1st space exploration conference: continuing the voyage of discovery. 2005.
]Taylor, Lawrence A., and Thomas T. Meek. "Microwave sintering of lunar soil: properties, theory, and practice." Journal of Aerospace Engineering 18.3 (2005): 188-196.
]Colwell, J. E., et al. "Lunar surface: Dust dynamics and regolith mechanics." Reviews of Geophysics 45.2 (2007).
]Krishna Balla, Vamsi, et al. "First demonstration on direct laser fabrication of lunar regolith parts." Rapid Prototyping Journal 18.6 (2012): 451-457.
]Fateri, Miranda, and Andreas Gebhardt. "Process Parameters Development of Selective Laser Melting of Lunar Regolith for On‐Site Manufacturing Applications." International Journal of Applied Ceramic Technology 12.1 (2015): 46-52.
]Indyk, Stephen. Structural members produced from unrefined lunar regolith, a structural assessment. Diss. Rutgers University-Graduate School-New Brunswick, 2015.
]Lim, Sungwoo, and Mahesh Anand. "In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) derived extra-terrestrial construction processes using sintering-based additive manufacturing techniques–focusing on a lunar surface environment." (2015).
]Goulas, Athanasios, et al. "3D printing with moondust." Rapid Prototyping Journal 22.6 (2016): 864-870.
]Kayser, Markus. SolarSinter Project: www.markuskayser.com
]Rietema, Menno-Jan. "Design of a solar sand printer." (2013).
]Klein, John, et al. "Additive manufacturing of optically transparent glass." 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing 2.3 (2015): 92-105.
]Fabes, B. D., and W. H. Poisl. "Processing of glass-ceramics from lunar resources." (1991).
]Fabes, B. D., et al. "Melt-processing of lunar ceramics." (1992).
]Magoffin, Michael, and John Garvey. "Lunar glass production using concentrated solar energy." Space Programs and Technologies Conference. 1990.
]Guthrie, Julian, Branson, Richard, and Hawking, Stephen. How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight. Penguin Press, September, 2016.
Addendum: The Philosophical Rant (It’s a long one…)
Things could be so much different than they are. As a species, we have arrived in our current state through a series of steps so complex that the thing we call reality might as well be an arbitrary selection from the possibilities of what could be.
In this reality, our reality, humans have made a massive misstep that has put our society and our species at risk. This glaring bit of poor judgment is ongoing, yet no action is being taken to resolve the situation. No machines are being built outside of Earth’s orbit.
Even though we are a space faring species, we have no plans for gathering resources from outside of Earth or for building the extraterrestrial infrastructure that is necessary to take humans to other planets and beyond. We are not amassing the arsenal necessary to ward off extinction from asteroid impacts nor are we building the tools we need to fight runaway global warming through sunshades or the like.
We could be building things, lots of things, outside of Earth’s gravity and be permanently expanding our reach into the Cosmos. We can do all of this with existing technology – low tech by today’s standards – the only requirement is a slight shift of human priority.
I want to try in my own way to fill this gap. I want our reality to be different than it is and I think I know how to do that.
We must encourage the tinkerers and the builders to venture into space. And not just be there and exist in space, but to play in it, interact with it. A compelling challenge like the one that I have outlined would bring adventurers, those wary of traditional ways of doing things who take bold steps into new territory. I want to find the people in this world who want to dip their (virtual) hands into the Moon’s soil and pull out an object born from their imagination.
Following the competition, the winning team will have the ability to make parts indefinitely on the surface of the Moon using soil and sunlight. These parts could be assembled to form the bodies of robots, most notably those of additional printers; containers for material storage; energy collection apparatuses; and a host of other applications, with each addition bringing even greater capabilities for extracting resources and building upon the lunar surface.
Proper preparation could greatly extend the reach of this first lunar base to encourage it to grow organically from resources collected on the Moon. The winning team could build a large collection of printers and robots by sending just a few extra electronics, motors, and Mylar sheets for solar collection. This hardware could be installed into the bodies of printers and robots, all made on the Moon. The added costs of launching a slightly heavier payload would be minimal compared to the potential returns that you could receive from increased operational capability on the Moon.
The creative limits of the winning team will be pushed to find new ways of harnessing the few resources they started with. The lunar soil contains a range of extremely useful materials such as aluminum, iron, copper, titanium, and magnesium; all of which are easily extractable for use in specialized mechanical or electrical components. Small amounts of water can be liberated from the soil as it is melted. This water could be collected and used to drive steam engines as a feasible first step towards low-tech locomotion on the Moon. Simple heating elements could be produced from parabolic solar collectors improvised from Mylar sheets applied to the surface of troughs dug into the soil.
Continued support from Earth via rocket bound payloads could accelerate efforts of expanding upon the efforts of the winning team or their model could be repeated elsewhere on the Moon. From one printer comes many. Each new printer will build redundancy into the system and expand the infrastructure required for extraterrestrial manufacturing. From each new robot comes more soil and food for the growing manufacturing base. With proper preparation, this process can continue indefinitely.
tldr; Let's take Monero to the Moon and then let it return the favor.
Edit 1: I set up the website moneromoonprize.com
to post additional information moving forward and propose that we use /moneromoonprize
for continued discussion of the competition beyond this thread.
Edit 2: Verification of Funds
address:44aaLQFizmb2FdVKuBxwS5i8hgExwZyXpN7APKPeXmyYEc93ecZsweAJ2Rr4g8FDoPjBkXBrXARL4N3cpKbAWxCyUb8LfFM viewkey:3bc4c7354f7b870985a3698a23bcfbd63e01ece14d08eab16ac2b815157a7c03 key images (available for 24 hrs): https://dropfile.to/QzCc2r0
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