European scientists have announced plans to start mining the moon as early as 2025, though what they’ll be extracting is neither gold nor diamonds, but waste-free nuclear energy thought to be worth trillions of dollars.
The goal is to place a lander on the lunar surface to mine and process regolith for water, oxygen, metals and an isotope called helium-3, which may prove useful for fueling future fusion reactors.
Regolith, Universe Today reported, is a dust-like material that covers the lunar surface and is the result of billions of years of meteor and comet impacts. If anyone ever lives on the moon, they could use the regolith to build habitats for a base.
The mission will be in charge of the European Space Agency in partnership with ArianeGroup, Popular Mechanics reported. It will also count with the participation of Part-Time Scientists, a German group and former Google Lunar XPrize contestant.
Europe isn’t the only one getting on board of the lunar mining train. Both India and China have floated ideas about extracting Helium-3 from the Earth’s natural satellite. Beijing has already landed on the moon twice in the 21st century, with more missions to follow.
There are an estimated one million tonnes of helium-3 in the moon, though only 25% of that could be brought to Earth, Gerald Kulcinski, director of the Fusion Technology Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a former member of the NASA Advisory Council told Bloomberg last year.
But that’s enough to meet the world’s current energy demands for at least two, and maybe as many as five, centuries, said the expert said, who estimates that helium-3 is worth almost $5 billion a tonne.
After being considered mostly a science-fiction tale, governments are now rushing to implement programs and legislation that allow them to join the race for mining in space.
In 2015, former US President Barack Obama signed a law that grants US citizens rights to own resources mined in space. The ground-breaking rule was touted as a major boost to asteroid mining because it encourages the commercial exploration and utilization of resources from asteroids obtained by US firms.
Shortly after, Luxembourg launched an official initiative to promote the mining of asteroids for minerals. The tiny European country, which has been studying possible involvement in the sector since 2013, aims to become Europe’s centre for space mining.
Canada is also eying the moon. Last year, Northern Ontario-based Deltion Innovations partnered with Moon Express, the first American private space exploration firm to have been granted government permission to travel beyond Earth’s orbit, on future opportunities in outer space.
Some of the space ventures in the works include plans to mine asteroids, track space debris, build the first human settlement in Mars, and billionaire Elon Musk’s own plan for an unmanned mission to the red planet.
Geologists as well as emerging companies, such as US-based Planetary Resources, a firm pioneering the space mining industry, believe asteroids are packed with iron ore, nickel and precious metals at much higher concentrations than those found on Earth, making up a market valued in the trillions of dollars.
This stupidity pops up every few yrs or so. Earth is Flat and stationary and nobody is going anywhere to mine anything but here on Earth. Either pure propaganda or someone is getting scammed outta their money by investing in unicorns.
Marquis de Crusade
Earth will Never need that much extra energy. It Is a scam.
640K RAM ought to be enough for anybody – Bill Gates 1981
People still think earth is flat here the 21st century give me break the internet has such stupid people
Too expensive. Helium 3 makes fusion nicer…yes toxic waste free! But using good ol H20 and extracting the low concentrations of deuterium and breeding tritium from Li here on earth will always be massively cheaper. Mining the moon for metals to build space stations and habitats is a possibility tho. Or to fuel He3 reactors on the moon. If it stays on the moon it may work but not to bring it back. We might even get feasible fusion in the next 10 years…but it seems the He3 fusion reaction is much more difficult than even the deuterium/ tritium reaction.
Mining the moon must not be allowed by all means. Even if the Moon present a perfect source for spacecraft fuel (water), it will lead to overmining and may represent a great danger into the Moon’s structure stability. Just remember that the Moon pays a big role into the Earth physics. Need to watch again the Time Machine film.
This is the opinion from a Mining Engineer / Astrophysics researcher in regolith based projects.
The earth becomes heavier than its norm and we fall from the universe. Stop it
need a lot of clones to run the harvesters…
It is very intresting news and it will take to do a risk analysis very thoroughly specially taking in account catastrophic events .
Sounds cheap and easy
Cognitive dissonance, like “flying cars”. We already have them, and they’re called “airplanes”.
We already have mining, and it takes place on earth.
There is no incontrovertible evidence that man has ever set foot on the the moon:
-Van Allen radiation belts.
-Moon lander feet have no dust on them after landing.
-Moon lander creates no thrust crater below the lander, after landing.
-“Astronauts” on guy-wires.
-Radiation does not kill moon-walking astronauts as they walk about in the full gamma and Xray radiation of the sun.
-Car on the moon? Sure. How “60’s.”
-Moon return never done.
Now this fool expects me to believe we have an economically sound case to mine the moon? Based on what? Show me the rock chip assay results. Show me the drill result results with assays. Show me the justification for a more advanced exploration program, with a 43-101 and maybe we’ll talk. By the way, what are the specs for moon transit in a 43-101? I’m not clear on that.
“Fake news” like this used to be called “Propaganda” amongst the educated.
I will forever regard mining.com as a substandard propaganda rag henceforth. Editor, where (or what?) are you?
–I’ll stick with better investments, for example , retrieval of funds from Nigerian bank accounts for strangers–
“waste-free nuclear energy thought to be worth trillions of dollars” – and what about the costs?
I’d like to know who’s done any mapping of the resources of the moon? Who’s identified the ore bodies and how far down are they? Bit ridiculous to put a timeline on it.
Mining the moon sholud be too responsability; thinking about future generation: the earth and habitants
Mining the monon should be too responsability, thinking on the future: The earth and habitants