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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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  • I love russia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by inter alias ( 947885 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @05:40PM (#14562165) Journal
    Even if they don't make it there (I think they will), they will reinvigorate the space race. I hope.
  • Maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doctor_nation ( 924358 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @05:43PM (#14562186)
    If the energy companies (i.e. oil) can be convinced that fusion is the next big energy source, I can see them ponying up the dollars to make this happen. Big investment up front for an even bigger possible return later on. It would certainly be easier to generate funds for doing this for business that it will be/is for scientific purposes.
  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @05:43PM (#14562187)
    Assuming, of course, you have, like, a working fusion reactor.

    Two points for forward planning, I guess.

    Isn't there Helium-3 in the Earth's mantle? Could we go after that? Build one of them there driller vehicles.

  • by dannytaggart ( 835766 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @05:44PM (#14562205) Homepage
    Do they have a working prototype of a Helium-3 power plant? I have a feeling this is an Energia propaganda piece.
  • Re:I love russia (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alex P Keaton in da ( 882660 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @05:53PM (#14562296) Homepage
    You said it before I could- I was thinking the same thing. Wouldn't it be nice if the US launched a science education initiuative in response to this?
    Maybe I am an idealist, but what if all the countries of the world got all their best minds together in a sort of Manhatten Project to find alternative sources of clean energy, and had the technology be open source?
  • by Absolut187 ( 816431 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @05:56PM (#14562336) Homepage
    The benefit of using helium 3 is that you bypass the radioactive element tritium.

    Why? When has a radioactive element ever caused any problems in Russia?

  • by raptor_87 ( 881471 ) <> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @06:24PM (#14562598)
    A lot. The moon is (IIRC) a bit over 1% of the mass of the earth. And it's mostly stuff like iron, oxygen, aluminum, and silicon. Long term and large scale mining *might* cause changes measurable with a good atomic clock (I'm feeling too lazy to calculate), but the amounts of mass needed are sufficiently large to be safely ignored for the duration of He-3 mining...
  • Re:And further... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jfdawes ( 254678 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @06:57PM (#14562838)
    Isn't the ISS actually in a really bad orbit to participate in any sort of earth moon transfers?

  • by smbarbour ( 893880 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:13PM (#14563372)
    I have the answer to 1 and 2: Mass drivers and sufficiently sturdy containers

    For 3, I agree. We should be using breeders. But to use the US Government line: "Are you crazy? That's how you make weapons-grade plutonium!" Nevermind that not all breeders make weapons-grade plutonium, though...

    On a tangent, I have long thought that we should be tapping into some of the energy created by disposing of waste. I live near a large oil refinery that has two flare stacks that at least one has a visible flame going almost year-round. Why don't we tap into the heat generated by burning the waste to generate electricity (to be sold into the power grid)? Then, we aren't just burning waste, it is actually being productive (disregarding pollution issues since they're burning it anyway), and it is additional electricity for the grid, reducing the amount of fuel needed by the regular power plants (and reducing the usage of "peaker" plants that activate when demand exceeds normal production limits). Just a thought.
  • Re:I love russia (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:44PM (#14563618)
    You're an idealist, and that's simply not realistic. If everyone worked together, certain countries wouldn't be able to exercise their power over other countries. In addition, if alternative sources of energy were found which were plentiful, then the world order would utterly collapse.

    For instance, the USA wouldn't be able to keep their dollar overvalued by maintaining control over a scarce energy commodity (oil). Its economy would collapse, and would never recover since, with a devalued dollar (in relation to foreign currencies), it wouldn't be able to import necessities like food. It couldn't keep its economy afloat with its two main professions: lawyers and real estate agents. No normal country, on a level playing field, could possibly survive if all its people do are sell each other houses and sue each other. Then, most of the population would starve to death because no one even knows how to do anything for themselves any more, like grow food or raise chickens, much less maintain their own vehicle, maintain their house, etc.

    On the other side, Iran and the other middle eastern countries wouldn't want such an energy source because then their economies, also dependant on oil, would also collapse, and their governments wouldn't be able to stay in power. Their leaders wouldn't be able to realize their dream of turning the world into a fundamentalist Islamic state with women forced to cover their faces and young girls having their vaginas sewn shut.

    As you can see, having clean, plentiful energy sources is not in the interests of many powerful people on the planet. Hopefully, however, the people who are interested can overcome this obstacle and make it happen anyway, even if it does mean some economies collapsing.
  • by T-Ranger ( 10520 ) <> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:19PM (#14563837) Homepage
    Chornobyl is in the Ukraine. There are at least two classes of people who would find you squashing them together offensive, I call them "Russians" and "Ukrainians".
  • Re:I love russia (Score:3, Insightful)

    by T-Ranger ( 10520 ) <> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:22PM (#14563869) Homepage
    As the US is a net importer of oil, reduction in oil consumption would, if anything, increase the value of the dollar.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.