Shackleton Energy Company

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Shackleton Energy Company
Industry Aerospace
Founded 2007
Founder Bill Stone
Dale Tietz
Jim Keravala
Headquarters Del Valle, Texas, USA
Key people
Bill Stone (Chairman)
Dale Tietz (CEO)
Jim Keravala (COO)[1]

Shackleton Energy Company was formed in 2007 in Del Valle, Texas with the goal to prepare the equipment and technologies necessary for mining the Moon. There have been no public updates as to their progress since. Shackleton Energy was a subsidiary of Piedra-Sombra Corporation[2] until March 2011, when it was incorporated as an independent C-corporation in the State of Texas.[3]


Shackleton intends to undertake lunar prospecting. According to their own website, they originally stated that they would place a team on the moon within 8 years. They have met none of their milestones, offered no updates and have not secured funding.

If significant reserves of ice are located, they plan to establish a network of "refueling service stations" in low Earth orbit (LEO) and on the Moon to process and provide fuel and consumables for commercial and government customers.[4] According to their website they plan to have humans stationed on the Moon in March 2021.[5]

If the prospecting is successful—ice deposits are located, the appropriate legal regime is in place to support commercial development, and the ice can be extracted—Shackleton proposes to establish a fuel-processing operation on the lunar surface and in propellant depots in LEO. Equipment would melt the ice and purify the water, "electrolyze the water into gaseous hydrogen and oxygen, and then condense the gases into liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen and also process them into hydrogen peroxide, all of which could be used as rocket fuels. Should other volatiles like ammonia or methane be discovered, they, too, would be processed into fuel, fertilizer, and other useful products."[4]

The economics that would make the enterprise potentially profitable are based on the relatively low costs of getting the fuels and other consumables from the moon into low Earth orbit. "Because of the peculiarities of celestial mechanics, such a haul requires just 1/14th to 1/20th of the fuel it takes to bring material up from Earth."[4]

Shackleton also has stated that they plan to develop an "industrial astronaut corps" that would select for individuals who have many of the characteristics of previous explorers—such as Ernest Shackleton, Edmund Hillary and Lewis and Clark.[6]

Failed Crowd Funding[edit]

Shackleton began a US$1.2 million seed stage funding round in November 2011, working with crowd funding partner RocketHub.[7][8] At the end of the fund raising period, only a total of $5,517 was raised out of the hoped-for $1.2 million (0.46%).[9]

Project phasing[edit]

Shackleton plans call for a four phase project, notionally through 2020:[10] These plans were funding dependent. There have been no updates as to their progress and it is clear that funding has not been secured.

  1. Systems planning and enterprise planning, 2012–2014. There have been no updates as to their progress.
  2. Robotic precursor missions, lasting two to three years, are planned to "identify and characterize the nature, composition and locations of the optimum ice concentrations at the north and south pole craters".[10] Surface operations and surface assays with Shackleton equipment will complement the parallel NASA and international missions. Projected to begin as early as 2014.
  3. Establish prototyping and engineering infrastructure in LEO to test the interchangeable modules that are intended for later use for production. planned to concurrently start in 2014.
  4. Establish production-scale equipment and transport vehicles, both in LEO and on the surface of the Moon. Once the lunar polar base has been confirmed and the equipment is landed, human teams will follow to monitor and operate the facility for the extraction of water ice.

This entire notional phasing leading to a nominal 2020 delivery is dependent on the successful initial raise of infrastructure capital in early 2013. There have been no substantive updates as to their funding or financial status. The programmatic phasing requires approximately seven years after funding until delivery of propellant to customers.

Legal regime[edit]

Although the requisite legal regime to enable the ice mining technology does not exist,[11] major world space agencies, including NASA, have put in place a "voluntary, non-binding coordination forum (the Coordination Mechanism) where nations can share plans for space exploration and collaborate to strengthen both individual projects and the collective effort."[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Danish, Paul (2012-06-21). "Mining in Space". Boulder Weekly. Retrieved 2012-06-24. 
  2. ^ "Stone Aerospace Advocates Commercial Mining of the Moon". Stone Aerospace. 2007-01-15. Retrieved 2012-03-07. Shackleton Energy Company (SEC) [is] a wholly owned subsidiary of Piedra-Sombra Corporation 
  3. ^ Window on State Government. Certification of Account Status. Retrieved: 7 March 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Mining the Moon: How the extraction of lunar hydrogen or ice could fuel humanity's expansion into space, IEEE Spectrum, June 2009, accessed 2011-01-05.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Shackleton Energy's cislunar economic development plans David Livingston interview with James Keravala, The Space Show, 14 December 2012, at 1:22:35–1:23:50, accessed 2013-01-03.
  7. ^ Messier, Doug (2011-11-09). "Shackleton Energy Company Launches Plan for First Lunar Mining Operation". Parabolic Arc. Retrieved 2011-11-10. 
  8. ^ "Humans to Return to the Moon by 2019", Shackleton Energy Company, 09 November 2011. Retrieved on 10 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Project: Shackleton Energy Company Propellant Depots, Rockethub, Retrieved on 16 January 2012.
  10. ^ a b Shackleton Energy's cislunar economic development plans David Livingston interview with James Keravala, The Space Show, 14 December 2012, at 55:25–57:40, accessed 2012-12-22.
  11. ^ Moon, Mars, Asteroids: Where to Go First for Resources? SSI-TV video archive, recorded on November 9, 2010, 74:37, panel discussion held during the Space Studies Institute's Space Manufacturing 14 conference in California. "Moderated by tech investor Esther Dyson, the discussion included: Prof. Michael A'Hearn, University of Maryland, Dept. of Astronomy, Prof. Greg Baiden, Penguin Automated Systems, Mark Sonter, Asteroid Enterprises Pty Ltd, Prof. John S. Lewis, Space Studies Institute, Dr. Paul Spudis, Lunar and Planetary Institute, and Jeff Greason, XCOR Aerospace."
  12. ^ The Global Exploration Strategy: the Framework for Coordination, ASI (Italy), BNSC (United Kingdom), CNES (France), CNSA (China), CSA (Canada), CSIRO (Australia), DLR (Germany), ESA (European Space Agency), ISRO (India), JAXA (Japan), KARI (Republic of Korea), NASA (United States of America), NSAU (Ukraine), Roscosmos (Russia), section 3 "Theme 3: Economic Expansion", pp. 10–12, May 2007, accessed 2011-01-05.

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