Based on what is known about the chemistry of the lunar surface through remote sensing and surface exploration, what raw ingredients are likely to be available that can be used to make rocket fuel?

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    $\begingroup$ If there is water ice in deep craters close to the Moon poles, liquid hydrogen and oxygen may be generated from water needing a lot of energy. But to get a storable hypergolic fuel like hydrazin and nitrogentetroxid you need nitrogen too. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Jul 20 at 22:14

There are a number of rocket fuels that can be made from moon rock, discussed in some depth in this answer and the linked papers. Aluminium and liquid oxygen seems to be perhaps the leading contender. None is as good in various respects as "normal" fuels like kerosene and liquid oxygen, and there are some engineering problems, but they are possible.

There is recent evidence of water (probably in the form of slightly less dessicated, but still thoroughly frozen rocks) at the South pole of the moon, where there are craters in permanent shadow. If that can be extracted, then liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen can be prepared.


The lunar regolith contains over 40 weight % of oxygen, but the rest of metals and silicon is not well suited to make a fuel. Only very, very few carbon or hydrogen, less than 1 %. Without finding water it is not possible to prepare a good fuel.

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The ubiquity and abundance of oxygen in rocks and soils in space (42–45% by weight in lunar samples) incite scientists and engineers to devise the most efficient techniques to extract it.

Table source.


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