Dec 01 2014

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The Moon’s role in a future economy

The article is titled Why we should mine the Moon, but actually makes just as strong a case as to why we shouldn’t mine the Moon:

This all seems pretty encouraging for any company or country considering drilling on the Moon, but opportunities for lunar resources to make a more direct contribution to the world economy by being imported to the Earth’s surface are limited. This is because the Earth already contains the same basic mix of chemical elements as does the Moon, many of them in higher localised concentrations (i.e. ores), and we have a well-developed infrastructure for extracting and refining terrestrial raw materials.

There are two exceptions to the quote above: Helium-3 (known as HeThree around these parts), and platinum group elements from meteor strikes.

However, the article focuses on three reasons why the Moon will be important in a space system economy:

1. We have the option of using lunar materials to facilitate continued exploration, and future economic development, of the Moon itself. The concept is usually referred to as In Situ Resource Utilisation, or ISRU.

2. We could make use of lunar resources to facilitate scientific and economic activity in the vicinity of both Earth and Moon (so-called cis-lunar space) as well as future exploration deeper into the Solar System

3. We can consider the importation of lunar resources to the Earth’s surface where they would contribute directly to the global economy.

ISRU will probably be the sole benefit for decades after the establishment of a colony or science station. Hard to see a profitable enterprise from ISRU, and therefore the Moon’s surface, for decades, then.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2014/12/01/the-moons-role-in-a-future-economy/

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