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Recommend that our moon's helium-3 be used for space exploration.

by  MicahSchweitzer , in Energy,  for Global  on January 18, 2012, 11:27 am  · 12 | 7 · 2239 Views

The Chinese space program has made public its intention to harvest our moon's supply of helium-3 to meet China's energy needs. Other superpowers are likely to follow. While helium-3 is a great source of energy, it is not renewable. Once we use it up, it will be gone forever. We as a global civilization would be better off if we receive our electricity from natural instances of motion: solar, wind, water, and geothermal sources: basically anything that already moves and will always move on this planet for free. I would like the POW to forward this mindset to our planet's national governments.

The best use of lunar helium-3 is the same as for all other non-renewable nuclear fuel sources: creating the initial spark necessary to start the magnetic sails on future spaceships. Once the magsails are activated, they will be able to remain charged and propel themselves by absorbing and redirecting cosmic and solar radiation. To those who find space exploration pointless, remember that our planet's magnetic field already has a hole and will one day, like Mars' field, deteriorate entirely, and that we owe our descendants the chance to survive the death of our planet's ecosystem.

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  • babelfish (Philippines) 5 years ago So the Chinese are going mine the moon soil and take it back to earth to be heated to 600 600 degrees C? very expensive project . Magsails are based on theory not tested as being viable.

    I believe that the POW needs to stick to promoting space exploration and clean energy and leave the scientist to provide possibilities an solutions.

  • 000001041 (Australia) 5 years ago I dont think we should mine the moon. Leave it alone.

  • GD000001300 (United States) 5 years ago I object because we need a new permanent source of energy not just a "bandaid"

  • MicahSchweitzer (United States) 5 years ago Helium-3 is used in proton emission through fusion. Fusion is always more expensive than fission, and always needs a fissile trigger to start it, but the energy gained from it is much greater, and fusion of helium-3 would be much more efficient than recently suggested hydrogen-based fusion.
    Most of space exploration theoretical, since it has not happened yet, but it's ultimately necessary. That's why I referred to "future" spaceships. I plan to work on that very theory once I'm in graduate school. Given the dangers of cosmic rays and the need for a fuel source out there, magsails make the most theoretical sense.
    I am completely aware that helium-3 is a "band-aid." That's why I don't want it used on Earth.
    I'd like the POW to suggest to those with power over this issue to leave helium-3 alone in regards to Earth's energy needs and instead use all of Earth's continuous sources of motion as energy. Maybe I should post another idea focusing on that.

  • pauly2676 (Canada) 5 years ago I object because what gives them the right to do that

  • akashic68 (United States) 5 years ago I object because I do not believe or support mining. There are other ways of propulsion systems and energy types that do not require mining.

  • AbyssalNightmare (Australia) 5 years ago There are better sources of electricity than something as finite as helium-3.

  • Inurdaes (Australia) 5 years ago Using He-3 as an incentive for kickstarting space exploration is a fundamentally flawed idea for a number of reasons:

    - As mentioned above, He-3 is still a finite resource, and the measly parts-per-million amount requires many many hundreds of tonnes of lunar regolith to be strip mined, subjected to energy-intensive extraction processes, which need many tonnes and therefore tens of billions of dollars of cargo to be shipped up to Luna in order to facilitate a commercial-sized mining operation. Moreover, the He-3 on the moon has been deposited over the course of almost 4.5 BILLION years, which means it's an even worse energy dependence to grow than abiotic-derived fossil fuels.

    - A little known fact about fusion reactors is that they have notorious neutron fluxes. What this means is because of all the charged particles whizzing around at intense energies, even WITH the extreme electromagnetic bottlenecking and containment the inner lining corrodes insanely fast, on the order of *hours.* I believe the current average degradation time is approximately 1 day.

    - This MAY be wrong and not formed from this kind of fusion, but radioactive isotopes of tritium are produced in large amounts as byproducts from the process. This may or may not be true with He-3 fusion, but when the US recently went all apesh*t regarding trace amounts of tritium detected around aging nuclear reactors, and the fact that these would produce far more than the trace amounts, it isn't exactly endearing.

    - As would be expected, fusion reactors are NOTORIOUSLY difficult to design and construct, case in point being we've not yet been able to conceive of a energy-producing plant. Hopefully ITER should change that. But the point is that the costs when a high-temperature energy-positive plant is devised will be such that any willing investors will likely go white-faced at the cost and risk factor of such an adventure.

    - Tangentially related to the cost and along with the fact that, well, people don't enjoy the idea of visibly changing the landscape of the moon (at least on the near side, anyway) it really does start giving a bad mindset to most things to do with space in general.

  • 000002291 (United States) 4 years ago let me know when they get helium-3 fusion (or any fusion) to actually work and I'll consider it.

  • 000008036 (Canada) 3 years ago I object because, if China gets there and can make it work (safely!), then there's no good reason to stop them over speculation on future tech. I agree that we ought to be exploring space. Earth's magnetic field will flip back and forth over the years, but it's not likely to disappear entirely anytime soon. But there are enough hazards, like asteroid collisions and super volcanoes, that we need to learn how to travel and live in space. (what's lacking among humans is a common sense of purpose: Can space travel fill that role?)

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