The Race To Mine The Moon For Helium-3 Is On
LAST weekend, China landed a lunar probe on the moon. It was the world’s first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades. Along with the USA and the old USSR, China is only one of three nations to have reached the moon.
The Chang’e-3 probe features the Yutu rover, that will explore “geological structure and surface substances and looking for natural resources”. If it finds useful stuff, will China mine the moon? Will it own the moon?
The moon is a potential source of <a ” title=”https://twitter.com/HomerHickam/status/411893692618645504″ href=”https://twitter.com/HomerHickam/status/411893692618645504″>Helium-3, a futuristic <a ” title=”http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-05/former-apollo-astronaut-says-moon-mining-could-solve-global-energy-crisis” href=”http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-05/former-apollo-astronaut-says-moon-mining-could-solve-global-energy-crisis”>fusion energy fuel.
Will China dig for victory?
According to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, the “outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”
In the exploration and use of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, States Parties to the Treaty shall be guided by the principle of co-operation and mutual assistance and shall conduct all their activities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, with due regard to the corresponding interests of all other States Parties to the Treaty. States Parties to the Treaty shall pursue studies of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, and conduct exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter and, where necessary, shall adopt appropriate measures for this purpose.
Also, no state will place any big weapons on the moon.
One problem is that the treaty deal with “national appropriation”. China signed up in 1983. And it can pull out with a year’s notice. But why wait when a big company can mine the moon or stick a large gun on it? A company is not a nation. And only nations are bound by the agreement.
America is already on it.
Photo: Apollo 15 Commander Dave Scott practices with moon drill on simulated lunar surface at Kennedy Space Center, May 12, 1971. In background is pilot Jim Irwin. Drill will be used to take core samples of the moon.
The race for the moon is on.
PS: China’s interest in the moon is no shocker.