Earlier today, RUD engineers rolled what appears to be a kethane drilling platform onto the test launchpad. While it did not have a launch vehicle attached, the platform appeared to have its own propulsion system and a massive array of solar panels. The test only lasted three hours and appeared to be a test of the electrical system onboard this oddly designed spacecraft.
RUD officials didn’t provide much in the way of details but they did answer a few questions.
It’s definitely for kethane drilling. We are testing this design for future surface extraction of kethane on terrestrial planets and moons. We are very enthusiastic about this design and we will release more information next week about this piece of equipment and the mission we have planned for it. — Robert Kermeister, RUD’s Head Engineer overseeing this project
The equipment has some extreme electrical needs, unlike what we have ever seen before. Our own, Scott Burgess, a space craft engineer expert who was on site to observe the test has said that the equipment also has radioisotope thermoelectric generators. Eight of them, in fact. He has also said that it is definitely an active drill that actively pulls the kethane out of the deposit and not a passive drill that simply drills a hole and waits for it to seep up through the hole to be collected.
For now, we can only speculate. Stay tuned as we follow this story closely.