A Greater Sudbury company has landed a contract with the Canadian Space Agency to build a combination drill and rotary multi-purpose tool that is essentially a space-age 'Swiss Army Knife.'
The federal department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development has granted the Canadian Space Agency $700,000 to fund projects like Deltion Innovations' Percussive and Rotary Multi-Purpose Tool, or PROMPT.
The tool will be able to drill into the moon or Mars at small depths – around 10 centimetres, to collect samples, and will also be able to complete the attachment and removal of screws and bolts in robotic construction, maintenance and repair tasks.
It costs around $250,000 to transport just one kilogram of material to the moon, and around $1 million to bring the same amount of material to Mars.
A lightweight robotic tool like PROMPT means organizations like NASA can maximize space by building structures at surface, and transporting everything in pieces.
In addition to its light weight and multiple uses, the tool will need to withstand extreme conditions.
“Where they're looking to set up mining on the moon the ground temperature is -150 C,” said Deltion Innovations CEO Dale Boucher. “Once you get into the sunlight, because there's no atmosphere, the temperature on the surface goes to 150 C.”
The device would also be subject to corrosive dust, cosmic radiation and would have to work in a low-gravity environment.
Boucher said the Canadian Space Agency has approved the concept for the tool. The next step is for Deltion to present a more detailed design, and then produce that design.
If all goes according to plan, Deltion could be testing its PROMPT prototype by Christmas.
Deltion is subcontracting with two other Ontario based companies – Neptec Design Group, based in Kanata, ON and Atlas Copco, in North Bay, to work on the PROMPT project.
Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré said the project builds on more than 100 years of mining history in Greater Sudbury.
He said the federal government will continue to support small companies like Deltion to promote innovation.