Moon mining

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http://dsc.discovery.com/space/features/mining-the-moon.html

The most expensive part of space travel is having to bring all our fuel with us. This means we have to launch everything from Earth. Imagine there was no such thing as a gas station, instead we would all have to drive to the oil field in our own fuel tankers and collect all the car fuel required for the rest of our life! Clearly we need gas stations in space, and the Moon might be able to play that role.

To this end, Australian researchers have developed a substance that looks and behaves like soil from the moon’s surface and can be mixed with polymers to create ‘lunar concrete’, a finding that may help advance plans to construct safe landing pads and mines on the moon. Valuable rare earth minerals, hydrogen, oxygen, platinum and the non-radioactive nuclear fusion fuel Helium-3 (He-3) are abundant on the moon. NASA and other space agencies have shown interest in lunar mining but the US is yet to ratify a 1984 treaty that would strictly regulate moon resource extraction.

However, even if moon mining was allowed, lunar conditions are so different to Earthly conditions that new machinery may have to be invented to develop resources found there. Furthermore, the cost of transporting materials made on Earth would be prohibitive, forcing scientists to come up with ways to build certain equipment using material only found on the moon’s surface. So the long journey to the outer reaches of the solar system goes via the moon, but it starts with recreating the moon on Earth.

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14 comments on “Moon mining

  1. I think that using the moon for a “jumping off point” for space exploration is a good idea if it is possible. Launching space missions from Earth is, like the article said, very expensive and so anything we can do to make space travel more economical would have huge benefits for us. And by using the moon for such purposes mean that we can go further and learn more about the universe.

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  2. That is very interesting being able to have fuel in the moon and mining would be very helpful for NASA. It will make landing and conducting research a whole lot easier.

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  3. It is interesting if they can manage fuel from the moon. The new type of technology that they would get for the future might be incredible and interesting.

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  4. I wonder if there would be a mineral on the moon that would create super fuel to power spaceships. It would be interesting and exciting what would be the findings on moon mining.
    Aurelio Miralda

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  5. Whoa, this is crazy! To recreate the moon on earth? We are a long ways away from getting fuel from the Moon, but it is cool to see that it is something on our radar for the future. This process seems like it will take at least 100 years before we could even think about mining on the moon.

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  6. This would be a huge advancement in space travel; imagine how much further we’d be able to travel if we were able to refuel on the moon. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next several years.

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  7. How exciting! Maybe this new possibility will help man and give Earth a little break in regards to how much we abuse her…. Nahh, we’ll still abuse her; sadly, it’s our nature. Well, maybe this will help bring jobs to many who are in need.
    Lynn Guest

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