NASA’s quest to explore deep space is energizing a space mining boom on the Moon.
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We’re going into a totally different phase of space; in order to continue exploring further into the great unknown, we are going to need the resources to do so. And it is simply too expensive to put everything a mission could possibly need on a rocket to space, and there’s actually a lot of resources in space we can utilize, it is just a matter of figuring out how.
Enter: the Colorado School of Mines and Angel Abbud-Madrid who has been focused on the potential of space resources for decades.
In this double feature Focal Point, we sit down with Angel, the Director of the Center for Space Resources at the Colorado School of Mines, to learn more about how mining the Moon works, why it is important, and what lunar mining could mean for the next generation of space exploration.
Space resources are key if we want to explore further, and the Moon is the ultimate proving ground and is shaping up to be a critical destination in the 2020s. The big vision? Establish it as a celestial boomtown, where new technologies can be tested and the moon’s raw materials can be harnessed to power future missions.
NASA plans to launch its own VIPER (Volatile Investigating Polar Exploration Rover) mission in late 2022, which entails sending a golf cart-sized rover to the Moon to prospect for water ice at the Moon’s south pole.
Find out more about the future of space mining on the Moon and the next space frontier in this Focal Point, and stay tuned for Part 2 to learn more about what it will take to actually turn the moon’s water into rocket fuel.
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Why mining the water on the Moon could open up space exploration
“What if instead of taking all the propellant you need with you from Earth, you refill your gas tank with propellant that’s already in space? Then, deep-space missions become more like cross-country road trips.”
The moon, Mars and beyond… the space race in 2020
“Space missions of a startling variety and ambition are scheduled for launch this year. Indeed, space engineers have not planned so much activity – for both manned and robot projects – since the heady days of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s. At last, humanity is returning to explore the heavens with renewed vigour.”
Space Mining — Learning How To Fuel An Interplanetary Gas Station
“If people ever want to land on Mars, or explore beyond it, it’s too expensive to rocket everything these missions will ever need from Earth. You need interplanetary gas stations on the moon or on asteroids, extracting raw materials to fuel future deep space missions. Angel Abbud-Madrid has been studying space resources at the School of Mines for two decades and directs the new degree programs. He said there is a lot in space that humans could find useful.”
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