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Helium 3

Posted by ipso facto @ 10:51 on August 5, 2014  

China is taking lunar mining seriously

The moon is rich in rare earths, titanium and could support mining with recent evidence of the existence of water, the big prize when excavating the moon is helium-3.

Almost non-existent on earth, helium-3 is abundant and accessible on the moon and could be used in nuclear fusion, producing much more energy than fission reactions and with much less radioactive waste.

It does, however, exist on the moon. Lacking an atmosphere, the moon has been bombarded for billions of years by solar winds carrying helium-3. As a result, the dust of the lunar surface is saturated with the gas. It has been calculated that there are about 1,100,000 metric tons of helium-3 on the lunar surface down to a depth of a few meters, and that about 40 tons of helium-3 – enough to fill the cargo bays of two space shuttles –could power the U.S. for a year at the current rate of energy consumption. Given the estimated potential energy of a ton of helium-3 (the equivalent of about 50 million barrels of crude oil), helium-3 fuelled fusion could significantly decrease the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, and increase mankind’s productivity by orders of magnitude.

However, supplying the planet with fusion power for centuries requires that we first return to the moon. At present, only China has this in mind, with its Chang’e program, a lunar exploration program that will send astronauts to the moon by the early 2020s. If Beijing wins the second “race for the moon,” and establishes a sustained human outpost conducting helium-3 mining operations, it would establish the same kind of monopoly that in the past created the fortunes of ventures like the East India Company. The ramifications would be significant, to say the least.

First, “China is what international relations scholars call a ‘revisionist power,’ seeking opportunities to assert its enhanced relative position in international affairs,” according to Foreign Policy. Establishing an automated or manned helium-3 operation on the moon would be a spectacular assertion. Second, with the inevitable depletion of fossil fuels on Earth, China would be in a position to gradually build a helium-3 empire in which it would control the supply of the lunar gas. The rise of such an empire would most likely be met with resistance. The prospect of China’s energy supremacy would probably lead to pervasive geopolitical influence, cause geopolitical tension and anti-Chinese alliances to coalesce, and prompt other countries – particularly the U.S. – to hasten to the moon to break the dragon’s monopoly.

more http://www.mining.com/china-is-taking-lunar-mining-seriously-65595/

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Post by the Golden Rule. Oasis not responsible for content/accuracy of posts. DYODD.