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Private Company Plans To Bring Moon Rocks Back To Earth In Three Years (arstechnica.com) 66

mi writes: Moon Express, founded in 2010 to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, says it is self-funded to begin bringing kilograms of lunar rocks back to Earth within about three years. "We absolutely intend to make these samples available globally for scientific research, and make them available to collectors as well," said Bob Richards, one of the company's founders, in an interview with Ars. From the report: "The privately held company released plans for a single, modular spacecraft that can be combined to form successively larger and more capable vehicles. Ultimately the company plans to establish a lunar outpost in 2020 and set up commercial operations on the Moon."

Private Company Plans To Bring Moon Rocks Back To Earth In Three Years

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  • by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Thursday July 13, 2017 @03:11AM (#54798939)

    Futurama already did it.

    E

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 13, 2017 @03:46AM (#54799013)

    Convince the Chinese that crushed moon rock will give them an erection.

    We'll have a moon base next year

  • The moon rocks should go well with my fidget spinner collection!
    • You missed the obvious "Pet Rock" evolution. "Pet Moon Rock"

      • You missed the obvious "Pet Rock" evolution. "Pet Moon Rock"

        Oh that's just cruel. Everyone knows that pet moon rocks don't do well in earths gravity. I'm sure Katie Perry and Justin Beiber, along with the rest of PETA, will be happy to stone you to death so that you can be taught the error of your ways.

  • by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Thursday July 13, 2017 @03:57AM (#54799045)
    or we might get a permanent crescent moon
  • by Z80a ( 971949 ) on Thursday July 13, 2017 @04:20AM (#54799065)

    Getting some lunar dust back as well would be nice, as nasa needs this thing to research their landers etc.. and the artificial thing is not as good.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is fascinating to me, not so much for what we might learn about the Moon's composition as for the economic implications of marketing "rare" Moon rocks.

    Of course they're not intrinsically rare. There's enough Moon for everybody to have too much Moon. What's rare, currently, is the ability to get it there.

    This leads me to some questions. If we can effectively model the supply and demand for this material, and the pricing, we might be able to use the model to determine the best way for this company (or

    • This leads me to some questions. If we can effectively model the supply and demand for this material, and the pricing, we might be able to use the model to determine the best way for this company (or a cartel of companies) to constrain the supply of Moon rocks for the purpose of extracting maximum value from fools who want the prestige of owning Moon rocks.

      Hush, you fool! Do you really want DeBeers in the moon rock business?

      It's a crass way to fund science and exploration, but maybe it could buy us some real funding.

      With corporations now in the space biz, the 'real funding' won't be for science and exploration, it will be for shareholders' lavish retirements. These days, science is funded primarily to map out the next wave of whatever exploitation seems most likely to be lucrative.

      • Hush, you fool! Do you really want DeBeers in the moon rock business?

        DeBeers isn't effectively modeling the supply and demand. They're lying about the supply and making it SEEM more rare than it really is, thus duping some folks. (Which is good advertising, but not true supply/demand equalization.)

    • For the same reason, I favor auctioning off naming rights to minor planetary and lunar features as a way of funding research.

    • Currently moon rocks sell for about the price of gem diamonds on the open market, around $1000-$2000 a gram.

      Yes, there are moon rocks available for sale right now - lunar meteorites. So there is already a price ceiling on any rocks imported from the moon.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think a read a book about this already. Written by Robert Heinlein, if I recall correctly. It didn't turn out so well sending all the moon rocks to Earth. Be careful!

  • Build a mass driver on the Moon. Use it to fling rocks back to the Earth. Just watch out that you are not under them when they arrive.
    • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Thursday July 13, 2017 @08:57AM (#54799735)

      I'm afraid I gave away my copy of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" to a young person who needed to learn a great deal more about the politics of Robert Heinlein and where many engineers of my generation learned much of our politics. The "Loonies", the inhabitants of Luna, had been engaging in just such an attack on Earth in a war of revolution. There was an amazing comment that there was no point in dropping rocks on Cheyenne Mountain anymore, since it was no longer _there_.

      The revolutionaries were also broadcasting to Terra the exact coordinates of each rock, carefully avoiding population centers and historic monuments, and giving any remaining inhabitants time to do exactly that: to get out from under them. I took the story to heart as a model for premeditated violence.

      • Heinlein's fiction is as bad a physics text as it is a sociology or economics text. This is not to disparage Heinlein, simply to point out that plot points in fiction are just plot points. All science fiction, and all fiction generally, shares this trait.

        The lunar bombardment scenario has a couple of problems. The energy gain from firing something from the moon is only about 22-fold (11.2 km/sec / 2.38 km/sec)^2), so that to do any extensive damage on Earth a still enormous amount of electrical energy needs

        • Oops - miscalculation: the energy gain is at best only a factor of 11, once you account for canceling the lunar orbital velocity of 1 km/sec. This assumes you are OK with the mass taking 2 weeks to fall to Earth (half the orbital period of the moon). If you want it to fall faster still more energy must be invested in it, reducing the gain even more.

        • I agree that the politics and engineering in Heinlein's stories are not robust. They're fiction: they don't have to be robust, but they do need to involve challenges and obstacles for the characters, to explore the engineering, emotional, and political puzzles. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress explored at least half a dozen awkward themes, including political revolution, the role of indentured servitude and political exile in colonial politics, the differences between warfare by bombing and warfare with troops

  • Alien bacterial infection FTW!

  • the US Government believes all moon rocks are their property and aggressively pursue everyone who has one. SWAT teams and FBI sting operations -- for people who were *given* a tiny piece of moon rock by NASA 40 years ago.
    • the US Government believes all moon rocks are their property and aggressively pursue everyone who has one. SWAT teams and FBI sting operations -- for people who were *given* a tiny piece of moon rock by NASA 40 years ago.

      The U.S. believes the Apollo mission rocks are government property because they are. The U.S. government paid to bring them here, and have clear legal title to them. They have never been offered for sale.

      If you want to buy a moon rock though there is not problem. Lunar meteorites are available for sale (I have a small piece of one), you can order one today if you like. A micro-mount specimen isn't even very expensive.

  • Turn over the moon rock and find a "Made in China" sticker on back.
  • I don't have any funding, or a launch vehicle, or a landing vehicle, or a return vehicle, but I have plans.

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