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Jan 07 2015

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Economic feasibility of mining the Moon

A complicated issue, but in the end…maybe. This article summarizes the research of by Ian Crawford, a professor of planetary science and astrobiology at Birkbeck College, London.

His conclusions:

  • Lunar resources are likely to be more valuable building up the near-Lunar space infrastructure, not necessarily the Moon’s infrastructure itself.
  • Even if we had fusion reactors waiting for HeThree, it’s hard to see closing a business case mining it from the Moon. It’s a limited resource there. However, he adds the caveat that we only know the HeThree concentrations from Apollo soil samples, and it is possible that HeThree concentrations may be higher at the Moon’s poles. If that’s the case, then HeThree could become a profit resource.
  • If REEs (Rare Earth Elements) are found in abundance, then mining on the Moon could indeed be profitable. Unfortunately, it will likely take real prospecting and sample drilling to determine this.
  • Platinum-group elements may be located in craters from meteor/asteroid impacts. Some of these locations may be detected from orbit.

His conclusion:

“So you add all of these things together, [then] even without helium-3, you can start to see that the moon might become of economic interest in the longer term. That’s my take,” Crawford concluded.

To read his entire report, go here.

Note: “HeThree” and “REEs” part of the cultural slang in

Ships & Stones

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/01/07/economic-feasibility-of-mining-the-moon/

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