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Moon Space Science

Russia to Mine on the Moon by 2020 145

sxmjmae writes to tell us is reporting that Russia has unveiled plans to establish a permanent mining operation on the moon by 2020 in order to extract the rare isotope Helium-3. From the article: "Helium-3 is a non-radioactive isotope of helium that can be used in nuclear fusion. Rare on earth but plentiful on the moon, it is seen by some experts as an ideal fuel because it is powerful, non-polluting and generates almost no radioactive by-product."
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Russia to Mine on the Moon by 2020

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  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @05:40PM (#14562160)

    Some more information about this endeavor can be found here [].
  • A bit early perhaps (Score:5, Informative)

    by Councilor Hart ( 673770 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @05:49PM (#14562260)
    Nuclear fusion is not expected by 2020, so it's a bit premature.

    Helium-3 is also not necessary to archive fusion. Deuterium-tritium reactions will also work, and you don't have to go to the moon to get those elements. Deuterium can be extracted from the sea and tritium can be created in situ by reactions with lithium embedded in the wall of the reactor.
    The benefit of using helium 3 is that you bypass the radioactive element tritium.

    It's a good idea for the long term, but let us first try to get a working reactor, shall we?

  • wikipedia (Score:4, Informative)

    by seann ( 307009 ) <> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @05:52PM (#14562293) Homepage Journal
    Wikipedias Helium-3 [] article.

    For people who were as clueless as I was.
  • by barawn ( 25691 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @06:02PM (#14562400) Homepage
    The benefit of using helium 3 is that you bypass the radioactive element tritium.

    The benefit of Helium-3 is that its fusion reaction is aneutronic. This means that the containing vessel wouldn't be irradiated, and it's more efficient - that is, it should be easier to generate ignition with Helium-3 than with a similar fuel that wouldn't be aneutronic.

    The downside, of course, is that the reaction involved is D+He3, which means you'd have D+D, and He3-He3 side reactions, and D+D does give off neutrons. And D+He3 takes higher temperatures than D+T. So it's a little - um - daring for the Russians to be saying this, although it's not impossible to believe that given a supply of He3, there'd be economic incentive to build a freaking big fusion reactor.
  • Re:Money? (Score:4, Informative)

    by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @06:11PM (#14562482)

    Where will the money come from?

    Here [], among other sources...
  • The Saint (Score:2, Informative)

    by VampireByte ( 447578 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @06:11PM (#14562487) Homepage
    What was that Val Kilmer movie with the cold fusion where he wore the masks, and they gave the technology to the world for free?

    That movie would be The Saint []. It's okay... Elisabeth Shue looks really cute playing a nerdy scientist in glasses and kneesocks.

  • Re:Maybe... (Score:5, Informative)

    by rtaylor ( 70602 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @07:03PM (#14562878) Homepage
    I think if the world's governments all got together to find a renewable clean energy source
    Clean is debatable. Oil was considered clean back when the alternative was a horse crapping on the street or coal powered boilers.

    We think fusion, wind, solar, etc. are clean simply because we haven't put much thought into what would happen if everyone used it on a massive scale.

    For example, we know that wind and solar impact the local microclimate but we don't really have much data on their impact on a wider scale.

    Better than oil? Certainly, but nothing is free and everything will have some kind of negative impact.
  • here is my solution, for every amount of mass removed from the moon, we replace it with an equivalent amount of nuclear waste

    three reasons this is a bad idea:

    1. It costs $5,000 to $10,000 per pound to orbit with current technologies.
    2. If your spacecraft blows up, instant nuclear rain!
    3. We could be building breeder reactors and reusing our waste.
  • by WinkyN ( 263806 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:00PM (#14563726) Homepage
    Russia may be poor, but their predecessors the Soviets landed unmanned probes on the lunar surface. Here's a Wikipedia link for those missions: []

    Many of the attempts failed, but later missions return lunar rock and dust samples as well as included robotic rovers to move across the lunar surface.
  • Re:Worth it? (Score:3, Informative)

    by antispam_ben ( 591349 ) on Thursday January 26, 2006 @12:23AM (#14564978) Journal
    Well, gold is a relatively heavy material. Helium-3, not quite so much.

    Nah, the same mass of each actually WEIGHS the same! Duh!

    But Helium-3 is WORTH a lot more (per amount of mass), and thus (presuming it is viable for controlled nuclear fusion - I'd be surprised, but perhaps I should RTFA) it may actually be worth mining on the Moon.

    If the Moon were shown to have tons of cocaine on it, drug cartels might already be mining it.
  • Re:I love russia (Score:3, Informative)

    by hustlebird ( 908138 ) on Thursday January 26, 2006 @06:14AM (#14565949)
    By no means am i trying to troll here, but i would love to see links proving that the united state imports the majority of its food. But i will be the first to admit that i live in a highly agricultural state (illinois - granted, not population wise, but land consumption wise), and with the united states offering such incredible tax grants, they definately make it seems like we're feeding a good amount of the world.

    I was definately under the impression that the us exports alot more of their agriculture then they keep... again, please show me links, i'd love to learn more if i'm wrong.

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.