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Water found on the moon may spur more space exploration, lunar settlement and lunar mining  (Source: jyi.org)
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 SPACE.com, 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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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By voronwae on 1/20/2011 1:32:15 AM , Rating: 2
I don't suppose it will do any good, but I have to try to fix some of what's printed here.

1. THIS ISN'T NEW. Serious planning for lunar and planetary mining has been around since the 1960's. In the mid 80's NASA went to the American Society of Civil Engineers and asked them to help plan for lunar and Mars basing, complete with new heavy machinery, lunar concrete formulations and various ideas for lunar bases. I helped plan the resulting conferences from 1988 through 2005.

2. IT ISN'T HELIUM 2. It ain't Helium-2, it's Helium-3. For fusion. Ugh. You should have taken notes, Tiffany.

3. CONSTELLATION WASN'T A MOON PROGRAM. There was NEVER any chance that we were going back to the Moon with Constellation. NONE. Argh. The Obama administration simply followed the recommendations of the Aldridge Commission (yeah, remember them?) and the Augustine Commission (remember them?) to the letter to try to get the U.S. Space Program focused back on delivering people around the solar system. People who are intimately involved with space policy (as I am) cried tears of shock and joy, then stood back in horror as the press reported that the space program had been broken instead of finally fixed.

Here are some more quick corrections:

4. The Ares I rocket was due to be ready to service the Space Station in 2017, two years after the Space Station was due to be de-orbited to free up money. How does that make sense?

5. NOTHING IN COMMON. Neither the Ares I or the Ares V (which hadn't been started yet) rockets have any pieces in common with the Space Shuttle. Yes, I know they're painted the same colors, and I know what you've probably heard, but that's it. Sorry!

3. The two rockets do, unfortunately, share Shuttle's problems, which basically begin with a bidding monopoly for Shuttle business that funnels money to Utah, Texas, Alabama and Florida.

4. The "FLEXIBLE PATH" recommended by the Augustine Commission gets us back to the Moon sooner, not later. It also gets us to Mars, the asteroids and even comet visits sooner. Not only that, it gets us to lunar and asteroid mining sooner.

5. SHUTTLE WAS CANCELLED YEARS AGO, and the infrastructure to build new tanks and new SRBs was too. This wasn't an Obama decision, and it would be amazingly expensive to build a new industrial base to make more Shuttles. Which, btw, would put us farthe

6. Just as an aside, we spent several billion dollars and twenty years developing nuclear hydrogen rockets (no radioactivity emitted) from 1952 to 1972, when Nixon finished shutting down the majority of the space program. 1960's NASA mission planners used nuclear rockets to plan trips all over the solar system, starting with Mars. They also used orbital fuel depots, space tugs and multiple manned space stations in different orbits, with what became Shuttle to take supplies up to the stations. All of these items have been waiting to be reintroduced, and that is the plan the Obama Administration adopted.

In short, if you are a fan of space exploration, the plan advanced by the Obama Administration is probably the best plan for space since the middle of the Johnson administration.

Tiffany, do better research and take better notes, please.




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