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China is going to mine the Moon for helium-3 fusion fuel

China is going to mine the Moon for helium-3 fusion fuel 1

China’s Chang’e lunar probe dynasty is already having a great year. The Chang’e 3 lunar lander surpassed all expectations last week to emerge from its 14th hibernation while the Chang’e 5-T1 just completed its transfer from the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2 into a stable orbit around the Moon. Chang’e 3’s main mission was only to take spectrographic and ground penetrating radar measurements, but the Chang’e 5 missions will bring back the first samples containing the actual prize — fusion-ready helium-3.

One of the main reasons helium-3 is sought as a fusion fuel is because there are no neutrons generated as a reaction product. The protons that do get generated have charge, and can therefore be safely contained using electromagnetic fields. Early dreamers imagined that Saturn or Jupiter would be the ideal places to try and get their hands on some helium-3, but it now appears that the Chinese have set their sights on the Moon.

Mining-the-moon1

Although the Sun dispenses ample amounts of helium-3 wherever it blows, the Earth is largely shielded from this windfall by its own magnetic field. The little we do have is mostly generated by various terrestrial processes like cosmic ray bombardment and even relic sources from leftover nuclear warheads. The Moon, on the other hand, is a far more concentrated depot with up to five million tons conveniently embedded in its top surface layer.

If you are thinking that panning the entire surface of the Moon might not be a sound business model, consider that helium-3 would probably not be the only payoff expected. Just as extraction of rare earth metals on our own planet is often piggybacked on a larger iron ore harvest, the Moon would offer a lot in the way of other primary raw materials like, for example, titanium.

While the West might justify its own inaction on the helium-3 front in terms of old space treaties or lunar conservation, excuses like this are probably laughable to a country like China who now actually is going and getting their own lunar helium-3. The real hurdles they face are not the bureaucratic red tape or even the logistics of a mass space and mining effort, but rather the physics of helium-3 fusion itself. In other words, is helium-3 necessarily the best way to do fusion?

There are a couple of possibilities for helium fusion here. If you can excuse the jargon for a moment, the temperatures required for a 21H (hydrogen) plus 32He (helium) reaction are significantly higher than conventional deuterium-tritium fusion. This process can still result in a few of those pesky neutrons so it may not be ideal. The alternative reaction, fusion of 32He with itself requires even higher temperatures to overcome the double positive charges on each helium. It therefore remains to be seen what is the best path forward in fusion. Other issues like how best to extract the energy once generated also loom. For example, it may be advantageous to directly drive electrical turbomachinery using charged protons without any heat conversion — although the claimed efficiencies of 70% would need to be fully vetted.

One thing we do know is that we need more helium-3 now. Our own DHS, for example, had hoped to detect the telltale neutron emissions of plutonium smuggled in shipping containers, but it was stalled for the lack of an affordable helium-3 source in our post-nuclear weapons economy. Getting this precious helium from the Moon will undoubtedly be difficult. The realization that it will take significant manpower — actual boots on the lunar surface — I think for now is inescapable in planning future missions. Mining, even if it is barely subsurface, will always be risky. Robots will have their place for sure, but they can not replace our versatility on the moon if they cannot even replace men at mines here.

 

Source www.extremetech.com

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117 Comments on "China is going to mine the Moon for helium-3 fusion fuel"

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Good glad someone is going to the moon maybe this is the wake up call America needs

Guest

Thats what they say

Guest

you realize the US has went to the moon a half century ago right?

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AS IF!!!!

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Impossible everybody got to live their life Under the Sun Under the Sun under the sun

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God sake do they not talk funny enough

Guest

These Nimrod have as much chance of reaching the Moon, as I do…

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BOLLOCKS

Guest

China’s 30 years behind in technology. If there Oving you can bet America has already done it

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Angelo Bicolano, Hong-Kong Kong was part of the British empire that’s why it advanced so much at the time

Guest

America always going to to be behind China and JApan them people over there are way smarter fthen avg American dumb ass American going to be last in every thing beside making rules and politics lol

Guest

Look up solar warden, Americas real space program

Guest

China is surpassing us in many technological advancements. Where did you get that idea that they are 30 years behind the U.S.? Have you been to Hong Kong or Shanghai? Those cities make New York city look like a small village.

Guest

Unless China is getting along with strangers

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Impossible. All programs have been suspended by NASA. Recent flights were tragic for astronauts because they were liquidated by strangers.

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JajajaDummies.

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Before the USA?

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They need to get to the moon first

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Of course they are good luck with that😕

Guest

The nazi will disapprove!

Guest

no the moon has been occpied for a long time. and “they” know how to mine a moon without damaging it. they know how to “regrow” resources. if humans could be mining the moon it would surely be “dead” within the next 100-150 years. no way they will let them build anything up there!

Guest

someday the moon are fall into eart thats the end of the world.

Guest

bad news

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not good for us

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will help end oil. Though i still think tesla’s free energy would be best

Guest

Alien will not let them.

Guest

GOOD LUCK TO UM!

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Their there too

Guest

The Aliens have been mining the moon for a long time. I don’t think the Chinese have a chance of competing with them. I don’t understand their strategy for this action.

Guest

Image they blew up the moon… that would be a sight for sore eyes on Earth.

Guest

They’re in for a big shock…

Guest

Thats not going to happen

Guest

I thought the same thing Andrew, Looking forward to Iron Sky 2 to see what’s underneath us. 🙂

Guest

Will the Aliens allow the Chinese to do this?

Guest

I guess there’s nothing left (here on earth) that’s worth mining. I don’t see this as a good thing but, that’s just my opinion 💣

Guest

it’s not the humans moon to mine. I hope they meet so much opposition when they arrive.

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fuckin retarded

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OMG OMG!!!!!!

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we must be already doing it

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Pck the other side away from our moon bases …HAHAHA

Guest

Iron sky!!!

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Hey, Can you ask them to take a real picture of Earth while they’re up on that big hunk of cheese?

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Not gonna happen

Guest

The question is will they share…or have help

Guest

How? The people already up there won’t be having any of that lol.

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