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NASA Now Accepting Applications From Companies That Want To Mine the Moon

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the getting-some-cheese dept.

Moon 251

cold fjord writes "The Verge reports, "NASA is now working with private companies to take the first steps in exploring the moon for valuable resources like helium 3 and rare earth metals. Initial proposals are due tomorrow for the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown program (CATALYST). One or more private companies will win a contract to build prospecting robots, the first step toward mining the moon. Final proposals are due on March 17th, 2014. NASA has not said when it will announce the winner."

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251 comments

I'm afraid this means war (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212105)

Since no one really owns the moon, this will be the spark that will leads to the third world war. Nice knowing you all.

Re:I'm afraid this means war (1)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 5 months ago | (#46212205)

Can't wait to see the scars on the moon's surface and the eventual "oops" that screws up the orbit.

Re:I'm afraid this means war (1)

Minwee (522556) | about 5 months ago | (#46212257)

Re:I'm afraid this means war (3, Funny)

gnick (1211984) | about 5 months ago | (#46212543)

Hey - TANSTAAFL.

Re:I'm afraid this means war (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | about 5 months ago | (#46212569)

That's harsh.

Re:I'm afraid this means war (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | about 5 months ago | (#46212421)

Yeah. Can't wait to see the scars left by the huge strip-mining operation.

Re:I'm afraid this means war (5, Funny)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 5 months ago | (#46212471)

We're all doomed when they mine away the Helium that's been keeping the moon floating up there. :P

Re:I'm afraid this means war (-1, Troll)

crutchy (1949900) | about 5 months ago | (#46212269)

it's just another excuse to waste more taxpayer money... nothing will actually get to the moon

nasa is full of bureaucrats and academics desperately trying to hold onto their cushy government salaries so these crackpot academic exercises come out occasionally... they might even build a prototype (at huge expense)

Re:I'm afraid this means war (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212649)

What are some other crackpot academic exercises coming out of NASA? Not challenging, just curious.

Re:I'm afraid this means war (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 5 months ago | (#46212661)

There is no dark side of the moon, really.

Matter of fact, it's all dark.....thump thump....thump thump...

Re:I'm afraid this means war (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212841)

Someone PLEASE mod that god damned troll down? Cruchy, how would you brainless luddite jocks like it if we nerds all went en-masse to your beloved ESPN and People Magazine sites to troll?

GTFO, you don't belong. Unfortunetaly, you are just the kind of person Dice is trying to woo with Brainless Beta.

Re:I'm afraid this means war (3, Insightful)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 5 months ago | (#46212957)

Indeed. And this is also in reponse to the dickhead Anon Coward below (you
know who you are): China will sooner bury you.

The moon is not mine to mine, it's not yours to mine. The NASA understands that.
They just want your money, that is going to the NSA right now (not te missing A).
They have become a PR machine, launching ideas such as these now and again,
just to entice non-thinking though plenty aggressive fools -- such as you, anon.

I need NASA's permission to mine the moon now? (4, Insightful)

bazmail (764941) | about 5 months ago | (#46212133)

Hey NASA, race ya.

Re:I need NASA's permission to mine the moon now? (1)

dk20 (914954) | about 5 months ago | (#46212301)

Was just about to post the same thing. Wasnt there some global agreement over owernship of "foreign bodies" or such? Why do you need NASA's permission for something they dont own or control?

Re:I need NASA's permission to mine the moon now? (3, Informative)

Trevin (570491) | about 5 months ago | (#46212403)

The Moon Treaty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Treaty) is only signed by 15 members of the United Nations, and by none of the countries which engage in manned space flight. So doesn’t have any legal force.

Re:I need NASA's permission to mine the moon now? (1)

bazmail (764941) | about 5 months ago | (#46212877)

Forget treaties.

NASA's premise is clearly that they OWN the moon, and in order to mine it, you need to ask them, nicely.

Re:I need NASA's permission to mine the moon now? (3, Interesting)

mythosaz (572040) | about 5 months ago | (#46212931)

Due to the landmark case Finders v Keepers [wikipedia.org] , I'm pretty sure NASA owns the moon.

Re:I need NASA's permission to mine the moon now? (1)

Razalhague (1497249) | about 5 months ago | (#46212879)

Maybe you're thinking of the Outer Space Treaty [wikipedia.org] ? Wikipedia says it forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the Moon or a planet, but doesn't say much about private entities AFAIK.

Re:I need NASA's permission to mine the moon now? (2)

crutchy (1949900) | about 5 months ago | (#46212323)

I need NASA's permission to mine the moon now?

it's more likely you need vladimir putin's actually... even nasa uses russian rocket motors

Can we just mine the dark side? (3, Funny)

alta (1263) | about 5 months ago | (#46212139)

I mean I'd rather not look up at night and see a strip mining operations on the moon.

Or maybe all mining has to be underground, no above ground mining. You're allowed one small area to be your entry point and that's it.

Re:Can we just mine the dark side? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#46212349)

Well, first off, there is no "Dark side" of the moon.

Secondly, since the moons in tidal lock with the earth, the side facing us pretty much gets the least amount of light with the exception of the full moon. So, if light were a concern to them, the majority of the mining would be done outside of our view. Also, I believe most of the resources they'd be interested in are at the 2 poles. So again, it's unlikely you could see it from earth.

Re:Can we just mine the dark side? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212511)

There most certainly is a dark side of the moon. It's no less illuminated than Darkest Africa was, but it exists. One side of the moon always faces Earth, the other side always faces away. The far side is commonly referred to as "the dark side of the moon" because we can never see it from Earth.

Re:Can we just mine the dark side? (1)

alta (1263) | about 5 months ago | (#46212607)

blah blah blah, you know what I'm talking about. Stop being pedantic :p I think everyone knows what I'm talking about... Mine the side that we don't have to LOOK at.

Re:Can we just mine the dark side? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46212827)

Secondly, since the moons in tidal lock with the earth, the side facing us pretty much gets the least amount of light with the exception of the full moon.

Actually, both sides of the moon get about the same amount of light - they're in direct sunlight half the time.

Re:Can we just mine the dark side? (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 5 months ago | (#46212905)

Not quite. Lunar eclipses darken the near side of the moon, but never the far side.

Re:Can we just mine the dark side? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 months ago | (#46212941)

Well, first off, there is no "Dark side" of the moon.

Matter of fact, it's all dark.

Re:Can we just mine the dark side? (1)

confused one (671304) | about 5 months ago | (#46212407)

The Moon is well over 2000 miles in diameter. You're expecting to see a mining operation from 230,000 miles away?

Re:Can we just mine the dark side? (1)

alta (1263) | about 5 months ago | (#46212653)

Well, if they use a lot of industrial lighting to illuminate the operations a new moon could easily become a sparkly moon...

May be pretty at first, but I like the way it looks now.

Re:Can we just mine the dark side? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46212883)

I mean I'd rather not look up at night and see a strip mining operations on the moon.

Hmm, a strip mine on the moon that was 10km on a side would be about 1/38440 radians wide from Earth.

Which is about the same size as an airplane window appears to be from the ground, when passing overhead at cruising altitude.

So, when was the last time you could pick out an individual 767 window as a plane flew overhead at cruising altitude?

NASA? (4, Insightful)

schneidafunk (795759) | about 5 months ago | (#46212147)

I didn't realize NASA owned the moon.

Re:NASA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212203)

It doesn't matter. We all know what happens when you mine the moon. [imdb.com]

Re:NASA? (1)

sts2nihon (2397022) | about 5 months ago | (#46212259)

You mean this one [imdb.com] ?

Re:NASA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212643)

No. In the linked rendition of "The Time Machine," it was moon mining that caused the moon to break apart and crash into the earth, reducing humanity nearly to extinction.

And then the humans evolved into morlocks.

Re:NASA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212209)

The government agency that sold the moon... It just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Mod Parent Up Please. (0)

rueger (210566) | about 5 months ago | (#46212535)

Damn - used all my mod points to promote soylentnews.org [soylentnews.org] !

Anyhow - I've been burning through the entire Heinlein library on audiobook this month, so appreciated the reference. It's amazing how fresh most of his stuff feels after 50+ years, and how many times he's managed to spot a trend that is only happening now.

Re:Mod Parent Up Please. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212783)

Damn - used all my mod points to promote soylentnews.org [soylentnews.org] ! .

Isn't that an NSA honeytrap to get all the dissidents in one place?

Don't we need to talk with other countries first? (3, Interesting)

sts2nihon (2397022) | about 5 months ago | (#46212249)

I can just imagine a space-age gold rush erupting and the face of the moon forever altered...

Re:NASA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212253)

They don't, but they do have a say on who gets to launch from the US.

Re:NASA? (1)

edibobb (113989) | about 5 months ago | (#46212359)

I own the moon, and I hereby give NASA authority to mine lunar coal.

Re:NASA? (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | about 5 months ago | (#46212441)

Can I get 40 acres and a M.U.L.E. [wikipedia.org] please?

Re:NASA? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 5 months ago | (#46212477)

I own the moon and have claimed it for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Squid.

Re:NASA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212447)

Nope china does now :) Begin the luna wars!

Re:NASA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212659)

Some dickhead will argue that since they've put a flag up there they do own it.

Re:NASA? (1)

netsavior (627338) | about 5 months ago | (#46212859)

They are the organization most likely to be able to wage war on the moon... I am pretty sure that makes 'merka the owner, and NASA the steward.

Space 1999, Sorta (4, Interesting)

tiberus (258517) | about 5 months ago | (#46212187)

Okay, am I the only one have flashbacks to 13 September 1999, when the nuclear storage facility on Moonbase Alpha exploded sending the Moon hurtling out of orbit?

So, mine the Moon, ship the material to Earth... Um, won't this change it's mass and as a consequence, it's amount of gravity in generates and then it's orbit? Sorry for being all Doom & Gloom here.

Re:Space 1999, Sorta (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212261)

Okay, am I the only one have flashbacks to 13 September 1999, when the nuclear storage facility on Moonbase Alpha exploded sending the Moon hurtling out of orbit?

So, mine the Moon, ship the material to Earth... Um, won't this change it's mass and as a consequence, it's amount of gravity in generates and then it's orbit? Sorry for being all Doom & Gloom here.

So does sending a rocket up from Earth. Hey, if you shine a flashlight up in the sky, some of those photons will escape all the atmosphere and due to conservation of momentum actually push Earth in the other direction.

Re: Space 1999, Sorta (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212309)

No. It's like a little kid pissing in the ocean. It won't affect it's overall volume. We could spend centuries mining and removing billions of tons of material and not make a dent in it's gravity.

Re:Space 1999, Sorta (4, Insightful)

Minwee (522556) | about 5 months ago | (#46212311)

Um, the moon has a mass of 73,476,730,900,000,000,000,000 kilograms. A few million tons either way isn't even a dent in that.

There are entirely different reasons [amazon.com] why you should worry about huge masses of rock being produced on the moon and thrown down to Earth.

Re:Space 1999, Sorta (1)

gnick (1211984) | about 5 months ago | (#46212605)

Your link was the first thing through my mind. You have to be careful when you decide to "throw rocks." TANSTAAFL.

Re:Space 1999, Sorta (2, Informative)

msauve (701917) | about 5 months ago | (#46212353)

Moving mass from the Moon to Earth would have no effect on the orbit. The orbital period is dependent on the sum of the masses [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Space 1999, Sorta (1)

lexman098 (1983842) | about 5 months ago | (#46212733)

I'm not exactly an astrophysicist, but I think orbital period may be misleading. The force of gravity is G*m*M/(r^2), and the balancing centrifugal force that the moon needs to not crash into the earth is m*v^2/r (assuming it had a perfectly circular orbit). Set them equal and you get v^2 = G*M/r. It's true that the mass of the moon doesn't matter, but if you bring that mass back to earth you might have problems. Of course the transition of the mass away from the moon might increase r enough to balance things out. Interesting thought experiment.

Re:Space 1999, Sorta (1)

lexman098 (1983842) | about 5 months ago | (#46212787)

Also, you were looking at the wrong equation. The moon orbits the earth, not the other way around. Scroll up a little.

Re:Space 1999, Sorta (1)

msauve (701917) | about 5 months ago | (#46212867)

Nope. They orbit each other. The barycenter is about 4600 km from the Earth's center. The "other equation" is just for the case where the minor body mass can be completely ignored (e.g. an artificial satellite).

Re:Space 1999, Sorta (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 months ago | (#46212897)

The "other equation" is just for the case where the minor body mass can be completely ignored (e.g. an artificial satellite).

And in such cases, the first equation can still be used and will give the correct answer, it's just that it's easier to use the second one when the lighter body is completely negligible.

Re:Space 1999, Sorta (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 months ago | (#46212889)

The moon orbits the earth, not the other way around.

As in any orbital system, they orbit each other. The greater the mass imbalance, the less the lighter body matters, but that is still true. The equations aren't in and of themselves going draw a distinction between the two.

Re:Space 1999, Sorta (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 5 months ago | (#46212451)

I looked up some figures (http://www.infomine.com/minesite/) and found that some mines operate at 63,000 tonnes per day. Let's assume that Mine Base Moon ramps up to that level fairly quickly. The mass of the Moon is 7.34767309 × 10^22 kilograms. 63,000 tonnes = 63,000,000 kg. At this rate, it would take 1,166,297,315,873,016 days (or 3 trillion years) to use up the entire Moon. We'd be in greater risk of the Sun going red giant first.

Of course, we don't need to "use up" the Moon. Let's assume we just need to change the mass by 1/100% to make a difference. This means we only have 116,629,731,587 days or over 300 million years.

I don't think changing the Moon's gravity due to mining is something we need to worry about for quite some time.

Re:Space 1999, Sorta (1)

tiberus (258517) | about 5 months ago | (#46212681)

And now I know, and knowledge is power!

Sorta figured with Moon's smaller mass and the fact that we would be removing that mass some sort of effect might occur. Just didn't expect the impact to be that trivial. Factor in that while the mine may process 63K tonnes/day, we wouldn't be shipping ore only the cracked, smelted, processed material and it becomes even more so.

Re:Space 1999, Sorta (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 5 months ago | (#46212959)

Just to add some more to the mix, NASA has some information on asteroid sizes ( http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/asteroidfact.html ). Let's assume we picked a small asteroid, Castalia, and mined that at 63 million kg per day. We'd "use it all up" in just over 21 years. (Again, this is assuming the "perfect case" of the asteroid being entirely made of materials we'd want. No waste products produced at all.) A larger asteroid like Ida would take us 4.3 million of years to use up. Remember, not only is space is really big, but many of the things that occupy it are really big as well!

Re:Space 1999, Sorta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212739)

You'd have to start mass importation of boring useless moonrock before you'd hit a significant enough percentage to make any real difference.

Tritium ? (3, Funny)

stooo (2202012) | about 5 months ago | (#46212193)

Mining tritium on the moon ?
not a good idea.
If you bring it back and it explodes in the athmosphere during reentry, we are all dead.

BTW, slashdot beta is shit.

Re:Tritium ? (1)

Minwee (522556) | about 5 months ago | (#46212327)

Would you rather they all went whaling?

Re:Tritium ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212675)

On the moon? Awesome! "Houston, call me Ishmael."

Re:Tritium ? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 months ago | (#46212923)

But there ain't no whales, so you'll just have to tell tall tales and sing a whaling tune.

Re:Tritium ? (1)

confused one (671304) | about 5 months ago | (#46212367)

How, exactly, are you proposing that could happen?

Re:Tritium ? (1)

callmetheraven (711291) | about 5 months ago | (#46212457)

It could combine with O2 and go bang and make a little heavy water.
Nobody dead.

Rare Earth Metals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212229)

Wouldn't they be Rare Moon Metals?

"rare earths" (2, Interesting)

avandesande (143899) | about 5 months ago | (#46212235)

Rare earth minerals aren't rare at all- they are just costly and polluting to process.

Also with a lack of geologic processes such as volcanism and water I doubt minerals will be concentrated anywhere.

Seems like more of a publicity stunt than anything.

Re:"rare earths" (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 5 months ago | (#46212995)

And Helium-3 is rare, but worthless until we make massive advances in fusion research.

There is absolutely no reason to go to the moon in the near future.

Enough with the euphemisms (2, Funny)

Sloppy (14984) | about 5 months ago | (#46212251)

I think "mining" is a pretty damn euphemistic way to talk about viscious slaughter of all the moon's whales.

Re: Enough with the euphemisms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212339)

What do you have against self sustaining, clean burning whale oil?

Re: Enough with the euphemisms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212431)

maybe he hates it because it comes from walmart

Re:Enough with the euphemisms (2)

Hillgiant (916436) | about 5 months ago | (#46212601)

They will not harm the whales. Only the petunias.

Re:Enough with the euphemisms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212615)

I think "mining" is a pretty damn euphemistic way to talk about viscious slaughter of all the moon's whales.

viscious - You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

Re:Enough with the euphemisms (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 5 months ago | (#46212639)

Haven't you been to the theme park?

There ain't no whales.

Really? (1)

FuegoFuerte (247200) | about 5 months ago | (#46212305)

Something about this just seems like a bad idea.

Oh, and we would never again have a true full moon - some of it would be missing.

Haven't seen a Beta post yet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212321)

FUCK BETA

My team is ready to go (2)

PPH (736903) | about 5 months ago | (#46212351)

Clones of Sam Rockwell.

I'm reminded of GURPS Terradyne (2)

Akratist (1080775) | about 5 months ago | (#46212383)

Old Steve Jackson game supplement, but it was very interesting in terms of speculation with how real-world interactions would probably go between permanent moon settlements and earth. The arc of independence almost seems inevitable once there is sufficient development and an inability to directly control events happening in a distant location, not unlike what happened with British colonization in America. Of course, long-term habitability of the moon remains to be seen, although it seems likely people are going to give it a shot at some point.

Re:I'm reminded of GURPS Terradyne (2)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 5 months ago | (#46213037)

Shout out to GURPS.

Even a high sustainable moon base wouldn't have manufacturing facilities for things like computer chips. Even if they can eat and breathe indefinitely, they will not be able to be truly independent of Earth.

Rare Earths? (2)

argStyopa (232550) | about 5 months ago | (#46212411)

OK I must be COMPLETELY misunderstanding something.

First I keep hearing about "the Chinese have a monopoly on rare earths".
Now NASA is talking about people mining rare earths on the moon?
(Both the article, and it's original referent at Phys.org refer to 'rare earth elements', although I'm inclined to believe that Phys.org *may* have been using an unfortunately-confusing term for 'elements that are indeed rare on earth' like He3.)

RARE EARTHS ARE (largely) NOT RARE AT ALL.
They simply don't exist in concentrated veins. The processing is dirty and polluting, which is the only reason China might be considered to have a 'corner' on the market - they don't give a shit about their pollution.

As much as we NIMBY rare-earth refining, it can't be so bad that we're seriously willing to go to the MOON to do it?

Re:Rare Earths? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212575)

"Rare" as in "rarefied"? Suddenly the term makes a lot more sense to me. Thank you.

so NASA/the US owns the moon now? (1)

JustNiz (692889) | about 5 months ago | (#46212415)

Is it really upto NASA/the US to say who can and can't mine the moon?

Re:so NASA/the US owns the moon now? (1)

fullmetal55 (698310) | about 5 months ago | (#46212499)

actually it sounds like they're offering a partnership, not permissions. you need NASA's permission to launch from their facilities, use their resources, and work with them on getting there and back.

China didn't need permission for Jade Rabbit, so I think this is just for american companies to work WITH NASA, not in competition with NASA...

could be worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212417)

they could have initiated a study on mining methane on uranus

Good luck with the UN (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 5 months ago | (#46212443)

mining an asteroid or comet is one thing... but the moon? Good luck. Maybe if you kept your activities to the dark side and left even that as subsurface?

China and India might dispute that (1, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 5 months ago | (#46212459)

Let me get this straight ...

A country with zero shuttles, zero missions to the moon this century, and zero space stations wants to mine the moon?

Right ... I'll tell Norway they own North America, ok?

Re:China and India might dispute that (1)

ahem (174666) | about 5 months ago | (#46212559)

> Right ... I'll tell Norway they own North America, ok?

Don't you mean Netherlands? [xkcd.com]

Re:China and India might dispute that (1)

Amtrak (2430376) | about 5 months ago | (#46212573)

You know while I'll be the first guy to admit that NASA is a shell of its former self with no clear mission, I feel as if the "zero space stations" part is inaccurate as they own a part of the largest space station ever constructed which as of this morning was still in orbit.

As for Norway owning North America, I for one welcome our blond haired socialist overlords. Maybe they will put some of our defense budget back into NASA though it will probably go to Medicare instead. Tusen Takk.

Re:China and India might dispute that (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 5 months ago | (#46213003)

Agreed.

That said, one of my ex-relatives works for NASA. Great place! Wish it got funding ...

"if we can put a man on the moon..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212647)

The retired NASA shuttles couldn't make it to the moon when they were operational, pointdexter!

You guys had a 50-year lead on everybody else and then threw it away. Losers.

Re:China and India might dispute that (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 5 months ago | (#46213041)

The US paid for 75% of the space station.

Beta...Beta raped me last night. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212483)

I dind't know where I should post this, but I need to tell someone. I was just minding my own business when it came out of the shadows and grabbed me. I shouted NO! as loud as I could, over and over, but it wouldn't let go. And then it...it...(crying).

Don't let beta fuck you too. Learn from my story.

I think there's a word for this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212547)

Government, contracting private business, for for-profit endeavors, has a name among economic models.

That name is: "Fascism." Literally.

I think we should be very cautious in transitioning NASA's activities from a primarily knowledge-seeking, "for the betterment of society" mandate, to one explicitly intended to exploit the moon for financial gain. That direction is fraught will all sorts of moral hazard.

Mass? (1)

AcesDnied (2542270) | about 5 months ago | (#46212585)

I don't really have the background for this, just speculation, but how much mass are we talking about removing from the moon?

How much would it take to affect the tides? Could the difference cause the moon to be pulled to the earth because of Earth's increased mass (whatever is brought back)?

Just curious...

What a joke!!!! (1)

msmonroe (2511262) | about 5 months ago | (#46212685)

WOW!!! NASA is living in a dream world. I love the fact that the USA thinks we own the universe at this point! Shouldn't we encourage a gold rush to the moon? If we allow this model I predict that other countries, companies, will mine the moon and we'll have like one company that will be doing exploration of some barren piece of non mine-able area. The USA really needs to get rid of this elitist attitude that we are the best and control everything, because we are falling behind other countries on everything; I think the love of our country is clouding reality. We don't have a monopoly on ideas and other countries have exploited some of our finest values and leveraged them to their benefit. We need to do the same and look at what other countries are doing and take advantage of their experiences.

I'm okay with mining the moon. (1)

thevirtualcat (1071504) | about 5 months ago | (#46212753)

I'm not too worried about having chunks go missing. The moon has enough gravity to hold itself in in a sphere-ish shape. The mines will collapse in on themselves long before a huge chunk goes missing. (Plus, if we have things that can do that kind of damage to the moon, damage to the moon will be the least of our worries.)

As for knocking it out of orbit, the moon weighs 7.35*10^22 kg. The largest nuclear weapon ever detonated, Tsar Bomba, had a yield of 2.1*10^17 J. So, uh, not too worried about it. We're a few orders of magnitude off on that.

There's some legitimate concern about scarring the face of the moon for future generations. Yes, the moon is really big and really far away such that you probably wouldn't notice even a very large mine with the naked eye, but telescopes are cheap and plentiful. Possibly something you could deal with by treaties limiting the size of mines to less than utterly huge? At least there are no indigenous people to worry about. (Or, as history has demonstrated, not worry about.)

From reading the article, it looks less like "getting a permission slip from NASA" and more like "agreeing to cooperate with NASA." This seems reasonable to me, for US companies. Obviously, if commercial space exploration takes off, we're going to need some international agreements in place.

Antarctic and Lunar Treaty obligations? (2)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 5 months ago | (#46212757)

I was under the impression that the moon and Antarctica were covered by the same international treaty, which we are party to. Can the US offer private mining contracts in Antarctica? What is the legal basis for doing so on the moon?

Reality check (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46212921)

Given the immense cost of taking anything or bringing anything back to the moon, even with economies of scale, what could possibly be worth taking back from the moon for commercial purposes ?
Take iron, according to this page :
http://www.chemicool.com/elements/iron.html
The cost, pure is $72/Kg , bulk $0.2 Kg. How much would it cost to process 1 ton of pure iron on the moon, launch it and safely return it to Earth ?
I bet a hell of a lot more than $72K.
Helium 3 is a complete fantasy given that is MUCH harder to fuse than deterium-tritium and we can't even do that in a controlled way.
The only thing could be kickstarting an economy in space for space use which is a bit of a chicken and egg problem. Something similar to what has been proposed for asteroid mining : not for earth, but for building structures in space. Not sure how such an economy, so separated from Earth's would even start.

Does it have to be robots? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46213065)

Wouldn't short lived clones with memories implant work better?
We could give them 3 year stints mining Helium-3.
I figure we could have it up and running by say 2035.

- Lunar Industries Incorporated.

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