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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mining the Moon: Helium 3 Extraction Views

Apollo 17 astronaut-geologist Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, and others, discuss the profound potential of mining the Moon starting on significant scale in the next decade, in the above video posted by Moon Express today.

Moon Express is a commercial firm building vehicles and robotic probes to land on the lunar surface to start the first extraction of minerals on the Moon. The commercial firm is one of the leaders of private sector efforts to reach the lunar surface in the next 36-months with small robotic moon rovers.

The American, Chinese, European, Indian, Japanese, and Russian government-sponsored remote sensing probes have gathered significant knowledge of the Moon's minerals and surface features in the past few years, with missions ongoing. Most all of the governments, save Americans, have government sponsored efforts to gather surface samples and start lunar mining outposts. The Americans, on the other hand, are beginning to look to the commercial sector, like Moon Express, to start the first mineral claims.

An American private company is planning the first commercial cislunar navigation flight around the moon first done in 1968 but last in 1972.  The plan is expected to be announced later this year upon the commercial passengers making proper business arrangements, along with use of a Russian-made Soyuz booster and capsule and cosmonaut commander-pilot.

The Chinese and Russian governments have expressed the realistic goal of placing taikonauts and cosmonauts on the surface of the Moon early in the next decade to follow-up on their robotic exploration of our two-world system. Permanent human settlement will be the next step, sometime in the near-term future.

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