POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

Space solar factory firm gets ESA extension



Maana Electric founder and CEO Joost van Oorschot, pictured, hopes to get his boxes in space by the end of the decade Romain Gamba

Maana Electric founder and CEO Joost van Oorschot, pictured, hopes to get his boxes in space by the end of the decade Romain Gamba

A Luxembourg startup that plans to develop solar panel factories in space expects to be able to demonstrate its first unit in 2022, after securing a contract extension with the European Space Agency.

The multi-million-euro contract will enable Maana Electric to complete production of its first deployable 1MW TerraBox system.

The box, which fits into several shipping containers, transforms sand from earth and the moon into solar panels, enabling local production of energy resources in remote locations. It joins the new technologies being developed by private companies in partnership with public institutions in the new space race.

“This contract allows us to take the next big step with commercialising the technologies in our first working and deployable system showcasing the benefits for both the energy and space industry. […] This is instrumental to be able to propose our solution to early adopters by the second half of this year,” said Joost van Oorschot, Maana Electric’s founder and CEO. 

Maana aims to deploy the technology to the moon by the end of the decade. Van Oorschot told Delano in April that it was in line with “landing a rover on Mars” and expected a long journey ahead.

Recently, Maana Electric signed an agreement with energy transition firm Engie Cofely Luxembourg to develop a first pilot project demonstrating the effectiveness of Maana Electric’s new solar photovoltaics production technologies. It plans other pilot projects in deserts across the world. Maana Electric SA was founded in Luxembourg in 2018 with the goal of providing energy resources both on earth and in space through In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) technologies. Today it employs 35 people in Luxembourg and the Netherlands.