NASA

Companies Plan To Make Money By Mining The Moon For Its Resources

The moon is full of water and one company is finally planning to put it to good use.

Unmanned space missions to the moon have confirmed that it contains an estimated 1.6 billion tons of ice, according to Phys Org.

Richard Corfield writes in this month's edition of Physics World that the ice, located at the moon's north and south poles, has gained the attention of numerous private firms seeking to make huge profits from mining the resource.

According to Corfield,

…where there is ice, there is fuel.

One of these firms is Texas' Shackleton Energy Company (SEC), which intends to use humans and robots to extract the ice and turn it into fuel for spaceships.

Made primarily of hydrogen and oxygen, the fuel would be sold in space to avoid the expense of having to send it to Earth.

The objective is to create what SEC CEO Dale Tietz calls a "gas station in space" containing cheap rocket propellant.

SEC additionally plans to use the ice to power more mining and life support equipment for other unspecified ventures.

Another privately funded company interested in the moon's ice is Moon Express, a maker of tools for lunar exploration.

But rather than producing fuel available for all, Moon Express instead wants to create a "high-test peroxide" solely for its own products.

Water is far from the only valuable resource on the moon, however.

It is also home to several rare, essential minerals, but it looks like China has first dibs on those.

Its Jade Rabbit lander has been on the moon since December 2013, and Corfield says the country is considering putting a station on the moon similar to China's bases in the North and South Pole.

Corfield writes,

All interested parties agree that the moon -- one step from Earth – is the essential first toehold for humankind's diaspora to the stars.

Securing the moon's resources may be necessary, the writer adds, now that the Earthly minerals used to make car batteries, cell phones and even computers have diminished significantly in supply.

Citations: Mining the moon becomes a serious prospect (Phys Org)