China Launches Second Moon Mission: Is Mining Rare Helium 3 an Ultimate Goal?
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October 03, 2010

China Launches Second Moon Mission: Is Mining Rare Helium 3 an Ultimate Goal?


_49335520__49332045_010311835 On Friday China marked 61 years of communist rule with the launch of the Chang'e-2 lunar orbiter. The Chang'e-2, which is a part of country’s second lunar probe, blasted off from an isolated corner of Sichuan province just some seconds before 7 a. m. EDT. The launch will provide a boost to China’s ambition to emerge as a major space power capable of landing a man on the moon and perhaps one day exploring far beyond. The rocket will shoot the craft into the trans-lunar orbit, after which the satellite is expected to reach the Moon in about five days.

Chang'e-2 will be used to test key technologies and collect data for future landings. The latest launch, to test key technologies and gather data, is China's second lunar mission. China says it will send a rover on its next mission, and it also has ambitions to put humans on the surface of the lunar body at some future date.

The Xinhua News Agency said Chang'e-2 would circle just 15km (nine miles) above the rocky terrain in order to take photographs of possible landing locations. This is China's second lunar probe - the first was launched in 2007. The craft stayed in space for 16 months before being intentionally crashed on to the Moon's surface.

So far, only three countries have managed to independently send humans into space: China, Russia and the US.

In 2008, a Chinese astronaut, fighter pilot Zhai Zhigang, performed a spacewalk - the first in his country's history. He stayed outside the Shenzhou-7 capsule for 15 minutes; the exercise was seen as key to China's ambition to build an orbiting station in the near future.

Economic reasons are first and foremost of the forces driving Beijing's space endeavours, explains Dean Cheng, senior Asia analyst at think tank CNA in Washington DC. "From a civilian perspective, you are fostering the development of advanced technologies," he explains. Another driver is diplomacy A wide-ranging space programme shows the rest of the world that China had arrived on the international stage. There is also a domestic motivation: success in space helped legitimise China's regime in the eyes of its population.

In 2007, shortly after Russia claimed a vast portion of the Arctic sea floor, accelerating an international race for the natural resources as global warming opens polar access, China announced plans to map "every inch" of the surface of the Moon and exploit the vast quantities of Helium-3 thought to lie buried in lunar rocks as part of its ambitious space-exploration program.

Ouyang Ziyuan, head of the first phase of lunar exploration, was quoted on government-sanctioned news site ChinaNews.com describing plans to collect three dimensional images of the Moon for future mining of Helium 3: "There are altogether 15 tons of helium-3 on Earth, while on the Moon, the total amount of Helium-3 can reach one to five million tons."

"Helium-3 is considered as a long-term, stable, safe, clean and cheap material for human beings to get nuclear energy through controllable nuclear fusion experiments," Ziyuan added. "If we human beings can finally use such energy material to generate electricity, then China might need 10 tons of helium-3 every year and in the world, about 100 tons of helium-3 will be needed every year."

Helium 3 fusion energy - classic Buck Rogers propulsion system- may be the key to future space exploration and settlement, requiring less radioactive shielding, lightening the load. Scientists estimate there are about one million tons of helium 3 on the moon, enough to power the world for thousands of years. The equivalent of a single space shuttle load or roughly 25 tons could supply the entire United States' energy needs for a year.

Thermonuclear reactors capable of processing Helium-3 would have to be built, along with major transport system to get various equipment to the Moon to process huge amounts of lunar soil and get the minerals back to Earth.

With China's announcement, a new Moon-focused Space Race seems locked in place. China made its first steps in space just a few years ago, and is in the process of establishing a lunar base by 2024. Russia, the first to put a probe on the moon, plans to deploy a lunar base in 2015. A new, reusable spacecraft, called Kliper, has been earmarked for lunar flights, with the International Space Station being an essential galactic pit stop.

The harvesting of Helium-3 on the could start by 2025. Our lunar mining could be but a jumping off point for Helium 3 extraction from the atmospheres of our Solar System gas giants, Saturn and Jupiter.

UN Treaties in place state that the moon and its minerals are the common heritage of mankind,  so the quest to use Helium-3 as an energy source would likely demand joint international co-operation. Hopefully, exploitation of the moon's resources will be viewed as a solution for thw world, rather than an out-moded nation-state solution.

Casey Kazan via newscientist.com

Comments

Of course the ultimate goal is the mining of resources, they are the cause of most conflicts on earth and will be the cause of future conflicts in space too.

Of course the ultimate goal is the mining of resources, they are the cause of most conflicts on earth and will be the cause of future conflicts in space too.

Of course the ultimate goal is the mining of resources, they are the cause of most conflicts on earth and will be the cause of future conflicts in space too.

I only clicked Post once.

Capitalism, Communist Style.

Capitalism, Communist Style.

i hope to see future developing resources that will be used for the greater good by the time i grow up

chicoms own the solar system by 2050 the universe by 3000. suck it capitalist roaders.

i think if the governments of the world concentrated on peace on earth between all nations everyone would save allot of resources and the other worldly beings that are visiting our planet would be allot more likely to help us develop past our current energy crisis and towards the higher stages of evolution.

Superb! Now the space race will have to get in gear again. The US, Europe, Russia & Japan will not digest well these chinese advancement. Maybe the westen powers will now get off their behind and start showing the world what they are again capable of.

After reading this, I hope that China doesn't gain a monopoly on rare Helium - 3, & while I'm for international cooperaion in space, I hope that the Chinese aren't going to be the only nation besides the U.S. planting their flag on Luna.

If the US thought it was viable, don't you think they would be doing this themselves? Surely they must believe there are more valuable resources on Mars.

The Western world leadership is too pregnant with the destructive ideologies of Malthusian banksters and the bankster financed green lobbies. The mantra being followed is the following: bail out the banksters and speculators, and make the ordinary citizens pay for it via budget cuts and other social cuts. In other words return us to a feudal age where we are modern day slaves, and work day in day out just to pay interest for things the bank owns for us. This way our elites have figured out that they will reduce us into destitution and use the newly found cheap labour in the West to compete with the East.
Couple this with the malthusian mantra of useless eaters followed by the both Republicans and Democrats, as well as the other leading elites in Western Europe, and you actually have a recipe for genocide.
Contrast this with China, where they are actually investing in just about every new technological field they can in order to create jobs and wealth for their people. Also they, unlike us in the West, are actually increasing social spending and government funded medical aid, albeit from a low base admittedly, whereas we are cutting ours to the bone, and demanding that pensioners retire after they die!

Finally, the Chinese are also investing into all sorts of natual river system development, remember the Yellow River dam? All other sorts of infrastructure, beginnning with high speed magnetic levitation trains.
Unlike we in the West, they did not inflate a financial bubble for the benefit of the banksters, but chose to invest in their people, infrastructure, education and high tech.

All of these were things which America was great at, and were kickstarted by Roosevelt's New Deal and his Glass Steagall resolution. Back then if you wanted to make money you did not go to the Wall st Casino, but you had to invest in actually making things. That is what made America great (and I am not American), and that is what Americans have forgotten. relearn the much needed lessons of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the huge benefit it brought to the US. Do not dismantle NASA, and listen to JFK's speech again.
It was a difficult challenge but the US moon mission returned 10 cents to the US economy for every 1 cent that was spent. You also had working prototypes of nuclear propulsion reactors, with the NERVA project, and Nixon killed them in the name of the anti tech green lobby, which used the OMB office as a budget cutting chopping block.

So what are you left with? Solar panels and wind mills which at best will provide unreliable and intermittent power. And no other jobs in sight, with a devastated real economy.

Lincoln showed the way with his Greenback and investment in the Transcontinental railroad. Infrastructure and high tech, always pays and creates real wealth for all. That is why the supporters of serfdom, the banksters and the greens hate it all and always try to block every good proposal.

Humanity must survive and thrive, and the world's increasing population needs helium 3 and other techs to develop and bring water to arid regions of the Earth. It is not true that the world has reached max capacity, once we use our god given brains in a creative way.

The Chinese are proving this, and if they will lead because our own leaders are too stupid, greedy and think short term, so be it.

Look up NAWAPA for something which would turn the US around.

It shows how the left in America have no concern for the future!


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