Somebody please tell Newt that mining the moon won't be that easy
Newt Gingrich, presidential aspirant in the current Republican contest, wants to see a permanent moon base established by the second term of his presidency that could be used for space tourism and mining ventures.
Gingrich is campaigning in Florida, a state that is receptive to hearing about any new NASA initiatives since that is where the program is based. The other Republican contestants shot the idea down, call it expensive and wasteful. Former space executives have also criticized the policy. Gingrich has pushed back saying that the mission will be 90 percent funded by the private sector.
Florida will be holding a primary on Tuesday.
While the moon does look like a promising source of rare earth elements and a promising energy source called Helium-3, Foreign Policy says that the actual feasibility of a lunar mining operation doesn't look that good:
. . . the upfront costs of lunar mining would be pretty massive and perhaps only ultimately worth it if nuclear fusion using He-3 pans out, which is still a big if. This isn't even getting into the legal difficulties — the Outer Space Treaty prohibits countries from establishing territorial sovereignty on the moon and there's not mechanism for land titles — or the environmental concerns. (Yes, it is possible to pollute the moon.)