Companies and Nasa are going to mine Earth's Moon:

Total posts: [83]
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1 Inhopelessguy10th Feb 2014 01:44:10 PM from Birmingham Ctl, UK , Relationship Status: One Is The Loneliest Number
Article here.

The basic premise is that Nasa is going to ask the private sector to help mine the Moon for its mineral resources. The Moon is rich in such resources, including the elusive Helium-3 - there are reserves of 1 000 000 000 tonnes of the stuff on the Moon (Twenty-five tonnes could power the EU for a year). There may even be gold and other things on there too.

I presume that the Moon will become more of an extraorbital Antarctica, rather than an extraorbital New York.

What concerns me is the logic behind Nasa being the pusher. The Moon belongs to no country, and all countries... so it doesn't belong to the United States.

Nonetheless, I am rather excited for this. Moon colonies are great, but the amount of resources we could mine from the Moon would be great, and offload some of the stuff occurring on Earth.

JUST FISHING FOR THE MOON IN AN ARTIFICIAL SEA

2 Kayeka10th Feb 2014 01:52:52 PM from Amsterdam , Relationship Status: Brony
World's biggest wannabe
Anything that can solve the energy crisis is a good thing in my book, but yeah, I am more than a little worried about the possibility of a government or company claiming the moon as its territory.

Wasn't there already some big-ass international treaty regarding such issues.
People say I have a problem with authority. I say that authority has a problem with me.
3 Achaemenid10th Feb 2014 01:59:46 PM from Blades , Relationship Status: And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson
Mr?
The Outer Space Treaty: all celestial bodies are the the common heritage of mankind.
4 TheBatPencil10th Feb 2014 02:02:13 PM from Glasgow, Scotland , Relationship Status: I'm just a hunk-a, hunk-a burnin' love
Wasn't there already some big-ass international treaty regarding such issues.

In 1967. It's outdated, and wasn't written with this development in mind (it was more about stopping anyone using space as a launching pad for WMDs).

Presumably, contracts for extraterrestrial resource extraction will in the future be awarded to private companies by a UN body, perhaps with UN legal jurisdiction in outer space.

edited 10th Feb '14 2:02:32 PM by TheBatPencil

And let us pray that come it may (As come it will for a' that)
5 BestOf10th Feb 2014 02:15:52 PM from Finland , Relationship Status: Falling within your bell curve
FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC!
Maybe the UN could do with the Moon's resources something similar to what Norway did with its oil - set up a fund that is supposed to care about the interests of the people, rather than a private corporation. Maybe the UN could take a big slice of the profits (or be majority owner of any company involved in this) and use that money to expand its budget. It might be good if the UN had the resources to do all sorts of research on its own - you know, comparable to CERN or so (but probably something to do with medicine or agriculture, rather than particle physics.)
Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.
6 tricksterson10th Feb 2014 03:24:28 PM from Behind you with an icepick , Relationship Status: I made a point to burn all of the photographs
Never Trust
Why is this separate from the Space thread? Also isn't Helium-3 useless until we get fusion going? Admittedly we are running low on regular helium and rare earths would also be welcome. I would see the moon as somewhere between Antarctica and New York, eventually at least. Australia maybe?

edited 10th Feb '14 3:28:46 PM by tricksterson

If it's an authority figure and it's breathing it's guilty
7 Joesolo10th Feb 2014 06:28:14 PM from Wouldn't you like to know... , Relationship Status: watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
Indiana Solo
Eh, I don't see anything wrong with companies mining the moon. I'd like to see the outer space treaty re-written so countries could actually set up colonies for instance. something to limit "dibs on the moon" and instead something like "you can have X amount of miles(or kilometers, given metric really should rule by now) around a permanently inhabited base, and you can't set up another base until the first one's supporting X number of people independently."
8 Demongodofchaos210th Feb 2014 06:48:30 PM from Reality , Relationship Status: 700 wives and 300 concubines
I am become death, Destroyer of worlds
As long as they avoid Rampaging Demigods fighting on it, I'm sure everything will go well for the miners.

edited 10th Feb '14 6:48:42 PM by Demongodofchaos2

I don't fight for good, and I don't fight for evil, I JUST FIGHT!

Raven Wilder
I don't see why that treaty would forbid mining: it doesn't say that no one owns the Moon; it says that everyone owns the Moon. Therefore, anyone with the resources to manage it should be able to go up to the Moon and take whatever they want, since it's theirs as much as it is anyone else's.
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
10 indiana40411th Feb 2014 06:29:19 AM from Ruritania , Relationship Status: Mu
From what I've seen, "heritage" laws as applied to resources - archaeological artifacts, for instance - basically mean that, while private companies can be granted authority over acquiring the resource in question, actual ownership is established at the national or even international level, which in turn dictates availability and distribution. Simply put, even if British Helium™ got exclusive mining rights, they'd not necessarily be entitled to the actual goods. In this case, incentive comes from snatching up lucrative international commissions, rather than profiting from the finished product itself.
11 Grounder11th Feb 2014 07:44:18 AM , Relationship Status: All is for my lord
Main Character of my heart
Won't this noticeably affect the tides or the nighttime reflection of the sun at some point?
12 BestOf11th Feb 2014 07:51:35 AM from Finland , Relationship Status: Falling within your bell curve
FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC!
According to Wikipedia, the Moon's mass is 7.3477×1022 kg - so that's 73477000000000000000 tonnes. (Assuming that I didn't make a typo when counting out the zeroes.) You'd have to remove quite a bit of material before you'd start noticing any change.
Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.
13 Achaemenid11th Feb 2014 07:59:37 AM from Blades , Relationship Status: And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson
Mr?
Similarly, you'd need to deface a huge amount of the moon's surface for it to be visible from earth and thus disrupt lunar reflection.

edited 11th Feb '14 7:59:51 AM by Achaemenid

14 woodywoo0111th Feb 2014 07:59:57 AM , Relationship Status: Love blinded me (with science!)
Lets Lurk!
And whats to stop them from removing enough until it does have an effect, its not like environment damage has stopped people from doing that sort of thing in the past.

edited 11th Feb '14 8:00:14 AM by woodywoo01

15 Zendervai11th Feb 2014 08:08:44 AM from North Toronto , Relationship Status: Waiting for Prince Charming
Eccentric Dreamer
Well, we haven't been able to do that with Earth so...also, the material would have to go somewhere and most of it won't be very useful.

The moon is big. Mining enough to mess with the tides would noticably effect the shape of the moon, which would be a worthless use of resources because we do not need anywhere near that much stuff from the moon.

Also, mine on the dark side. That won't affect the view at all.

edited 11th Feb '14 8:10:18 AM by Zendervai

Everyone is a little bit insane. It makes the world so much more interesting!
16 Joesolo11th Feb 2014 08:09:51 AM from Wouldn't you like to know... , Relationship Status: watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
Indiana Solo
[up][up] I was going to disagree but I just read helium 3 is (theoretically) most common on the very surface of the moon. They'll be stripping off the surface everywhere they can.

edited 11th Feb '14 8:10:07 AM by Joesolo

17 demarquis11th Feb 2014 08:10:12 AM from Hell, USA , Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
Obligatory comment referencing the expense of mining on the moon. Question concerning the ratio of return to investment. Acerbic comment pointing out how far we are from solving this barrier. Another acerbic comment to the effect that exploiting an asteroid would be easier.

edited 11th Feb '14 8:10:30 AM by demarquis

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
18 woodywoo0111th Feb 2014 08:11:58 AM , Relationship Status: Love blinded me (with science!)
Lets Lurk!
[up][up] true, but the Moon is a lot smaller than the Earth, and its not about the view, its about how much we take away from the Moon as a whole.

You can bet as soon as business find a way to make it profitable, they are going to strip-mine as much as they can.

edited 11th Feb '14 8:12:15 AM by woodywoo01

19 TheLyniezian11th Feb 2014 08:12:18 AM from South Bernicia , Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
It would be interesting if they could ever get going on this. For one thing, if there's going to be any future in space travel, there are going to have to be commercial rewards for doing so. Helium-3 as a resource is only going to be of much use if nuclear fusion as a power source is ever viable though- which I don't necessarily recall it being- but I can see how as a space mining resource it's an ideal choice (low mass so less difficulty in transportation, possible return on energy invested).
20 TheLyniezian11th Feb 2014 08:12:50 AM from South Bernicia , Relationship Status: Above such petty unnecessities
I can however see there is going to be need for international law to be refined in the wake of this, however.
21 Fighteer11th Feb 2014 08:22:01 AM from the Time Vortex , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
I think that anyone seriously worried about strip-mining defacing or deforming the Moon has no real concept of the scale involved. Can you see strip-mining on Earth from the Moon? (With the naked eye, not telescopes, obviously.)

Even with the grossest allowance for technological capability, it would take centuries to shift enough material to have any kind of noticeable effect.

The Moon is a huge, dead rock floating conveniently near to Earth. If we're going to develop any kind of space-based industry, it's the obvious choice for both a base and raw materials. There are no moral or ethical concerns with environments or ecosystems — no species whose habitats we'd destroy, no groundwater to pollute. And frankly, if we are worried about aesthetics, we'd do better to look at our own planet.

edited 11th Feb '14 8:38:33 AM by Fighteer

22 Joesolo11th Feb 2014 08:29:08 AM from Wouldn't you like to know... , Relationship Status: watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
Indiana Solo
@woody- It's the MOON. We'd have to build a death star out of it to start impacting the weight in any noticeable way.
23 woodywoo0111th Feb 2014 08:37:44 AM , Relationship Status: Love blinded me (with science!)
Lets Lurk!
Yeah, thinking about it I am overreacting. The Moon is not going to be that damaged by mining, also like Fighteer said, there are no real moral problems outside of who gets what, and if we should in the first place.

Also, a death star made out of moon rocks, I want that.

edited 11th Feb '14 8:38:38 AM by woodywoo01

24 Fighteer11th Feb 2014 08:42:25 AM from the Time Vortex , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Geronimo!
Read The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. A lunar penal colony is set up to mine raw materials and catapult them into Earth orbit with a magnetic railgun. The ore capsules are then deorbited and captured.

A revolution occurs and they weaponize the ore launcher — or more specifically, the rocks, by throwing a ton of them into orbit and controlling the reentry themselves. The one time they demonstrate this capability, a bunch of idiots have to be convinced that they did not, in fact, use a nuke.

The orbiting rocks also do double duty as space mines, making the launching of troop ships to recapture the base problematic due to the impact risk.

edited 11th Feb '14 8:45:52 AM by Fighteer

25 indiana40411th Feb 2014 09:35:48 AM from Ruritania , Relationship Status: Mu
Obligatory comment referencing the expense of mining on the moon. Question concerning the ratio of return to investment. Acerbic comment pointing out how far we are from solving this barrier. Another acerbic comment to the effect that exploiting an asteroid would be easier.
HK-47, what are you doing here?

Anyway, I'd say once the substantial initial investments are put in, the actual operating cost wouldn't be all that great (for a space project). For one, it takes a lot less energy to bring something from the Moon than to send it there from Earth. Being a one-way trip, the average mining shipment may very well be just a giant rock, propelled by a variety of possible means, including some fuel-less ones, and ultimately apprehended at an Earth-orbit processing facility.

Furthermore, the currently prohibitive price of space exploration has less to do with the actual technology being expensive on its own, but with the fact that most satellites and science craft have to be custom-made, and fit with very sensitive equipment. By comparison, an automated heavy-lift rocket costs a pittance, with the price going even further down once mass production is established. Technology-wise such a project could've been completed in the 70's, if there was a practical need of it.

As for using an asteroid, the difficulty lies in adapting to its own orbit. Unless it can be somehow trapped at one of the Earth-Moon Lagrange points, every delivery will have to be recalculated, not to mention the overall distance itself being much greater.

Total posts: 83
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