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Water found on the moon may spur more space exploration, lunar settlement and lunar mining  (Source:
Space entrepreneurs look to extract resources from the moon, but others are arguing that international laws need to be made first

Lunar geologists and space entrepreneurs are becoming increasingly intrigued by the concept of lunar mining now that researchers have discovered an abundance of water on the moon. But others are suggesting that many obstacles need to be overcome before such a project can be executed. 

The discovery of lunar water has raised questions as to whether other resources such as helium 2 and rare Earth elements could be found on the moon as well. Now, certain countries are looking to race to the moon.

Paul Spudis, Ph.D., a lunar geologist and Senior Staff Scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas, has expressed interest in lunar mining and has even devised a plan for returning to the moon despite the fact that the Obama administration has no plans to return to the moon at all due to its cancellation of the Constellation program. Spudis' plan involves "robotic resource extraction and the deployment of space-based fuel depots" using water from the moon before any humans return to its surface.

On the other hand, Mike Wall, editor of, believes lunar mining should not be attempted before ironing out a few technical and legal issues. For instance, an international agreement consisting of property rights, a salvage law and a mining law would be needed in order to decide who owns the resources once they are extracted. The Outer Space Treaty does not allow nation states to claim territories on the moon, but it does not mention anything regarding resource mining, and laws need to be set before any mining on the moon begins. 

To set these laws, several proposals have been submitted with viable ideas to set lunar mining in motion. One proposal, which was published in the SMU Journal of Air Law and Commerce, recommended that "space faring countries" should claim and defend a large portion of land around an established lunar settlement and sell the land to investors on Earth, which could fund the commercial venture. 

A second proposal suggested an international agreement to sell lunar land to investors in an effort to fund space exploration programs.  

China, Russia and India have expressed interest in resource development on the moon. 

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Speed Up
By DougF on 1/18/2011 2:35:15 PM , Rating: 2
Allowing territory on the Moon to be owned outright by nations and then sold/parceled out is an excellent idea. There should be a few qualifications though, among them: 1) Territory has to be physically marked out (fences/markers/something every x meters); and 2) Said territory has to be "active" with ongoing programs (telescopes, mining, settlements, etc), either robotic or human-operated, within a specified number of years/decades before it reverts to "wild" status. This will prevent nations from sitting on claims. There will be other qualifications, I'm sure.

Will this spark outrage? Yes! And, it will spark space development*, transportation solutions to/from the Moon, refining mills either on the Moon or in orbit, on-orbit manufacturing, etc.

Treating the entire Solar System as some kind of pristine garden is the surest way to kill off any commercially/ economically/ ecumenically sponsored off-Earth development, leaving space for research and military purposes only, both of which are drains on the taxpayer's pocket.

*And the inevitable "space lawyers" over various disputes.

RE: Speed Up
By JediJeb on 1/18/2011 2:50:38 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, the best way to get us off this rock and into space is to make it a place for freedom. The US would not be settled as it is yet if people had not come here looking for freedom and a place to make their own way in life. So many things that have been envisioned by sci fi authors has come true, maybe this will be one too. Individuals owning asteroids, lunar prospectors, ect all have been written about, so why not let them be possible.

RE: Speed Up
By JKflipflop98 on 1/19/2011 12:05:49 PM , Rating: 2
It really will happen some day. Either that or the human race will cease to be.

I want to be there either way it pans out.

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