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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 Froze ( 398171 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @05:53PM (#14562297)
    The moon is a harsh mistress p231, Robert A. Heinlein:

    I really hope that this turns out to be realistic. If an industry can be built around going to and from the moon then space will become a corporate endevour. Which means that we will soon have all manner of neat science/engineering going on from lunar telescopes (observing at all frequencies) to mass drivers (rail guns for cargo) to a 1/6 gravity New Las Vegas lunar resort - at costs more reasonable than big government budgets.

    Exciting news indeed IF (thats a really big if) this is not just another governmental pipedream.
  • by Tragek ( 772040 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @05:55PM (#14562324) Journal
    How much mass would have to be removed from the moon (percentage wise) before there would be a noticable effect on the orbit of the moon, or the tides. Which would come first?
  • Re:And further... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) * <> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @05:56PM (#14562338) Homepage Journal
    Who needs bombs, when you've got deorbitable cargo containers? Just change the trajectory.
  • Re:Maybe... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alex P Keaton in da ( 882660 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @05:56PM (#14562342) Homepage
    I respectfully disagree- I think if the world's governments all got together to find a renewable clean energy source, they could do it quicker. It would certainly lead to more peace on Earth, with China and India clammoring for Oil... (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?)
    It sucks that we spend so much effort, blood, money etc on fossil fuels. Maybe I'm a dreamer, but if we could solve the energy problem, we could devote so much more time to science and discovery...
  • by sprprsnmn ( 619113 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @06:50PM (#14562781) Homepage Journal
    Why couldn't you build a reactor only using He3-He3 reactions? Wouldn't that be aneutronic as well?
  • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @07:43PM (#14563182) Journal
    The mass of the Moon is [] ~7,349,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms.

    To cart away even one millionth of one percent of the moon would require staggering amounts of energy. By the time we're dealing with that kind of energy, if we ever can (which I have my doubts about, at least in any way that would be useful for this task), I think we will be able to deal with the consequences.

    Are you worried about whether if we do too much mining, we'll run out of crust on the Earth? Worrying about the Moon's mass is even sillier, since while there may be less moon, you're talking about actually removing the mass, something Earth mines don't have to do.

    You'd also be talking about cosmic levels of heat here, because said "staggering amounts of energy" can't just disappear. Assuming you're talking about moving bits of the Moon to Earth (and not just flinging it uselessly into space) since the Earth is lower in a gravity well, all the mass will pick up the difference in gravitational potential between the Earth and the Moon, 100% in heat (since it won't move on the surface of the Earth, at least not for long). If you moved any cosmically significant amount of the Moon to the Earth, you'd make the surface of the Earth incandescent. (The exact temperature would vary depending on how much mass you're talking, but if you want to have some fun, take the gravitational potential difference of 1% of the mass of the moon, compute how much energy that is, then see how much heat that would add. It's a Big Number.) Until such time as Mankind is so powerful as to be able to revoke the laws of conservation of energy, at which point you can't predict effects anyhow, no significant amount of the Moon is going to get to Earth, at least not with a biosphere on Earth left to care.
  • by barawn ( 25691 ) on Thursday January 26, 2006 @12:36AM (#14565059) Homepage
    Yes, but bremsstrahlung losses [] prevent a useful He3-He3 reactor by a wide margin. Brem losses for D-He3 could kill it completely as well, but it's definitely gone for He3-He3.
  • Re:I love russia (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hustlebird ( 908138 ) on Thursday January 26, 2006 @06:19AM (#14565964)
    Sorry to post again, but i'd also like to know where you found that the two main professions in the USA were Lawyers and real estate agents, i could not find this anywhere either (actually looked through the Occupational Outlook Handbook for something, to which i could find nothing)... Please back this up, because quite frankly this sound like entirely BS..

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter