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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jan 26, 2006 0:08:32 GMT -6
Russia plans mine on the moon by 2020
Russia is planning to mine a rare fuel on the moon by 2020 with a permanent base and a heavy-cargo transport link, a Russian space official said Wednesday.
"We are planning to build a permanent base on the moon by 2015 and by 2020 we can begin the industrial-scale delivery... of the rare isotope Helium-3," Nikolai Sevastyanov, head of the Energia space corporation, was quoted by ITAR-TASS news agency as saying at an academic conference.
The International Space Station (ISS) would play a key role in the project and a regular transport relay to the moon would be established with the help of the planned Clipper spaceship and the Parom, a space capsule intended to tug heavy cargo containers around space, Sevastyanov said.
Helium-3 is a non-radioactive isotope of helium that can be used in nuclear fusion.
Rare on earth but plentiful on the moon, it is seen by some experts as an ideal fuel because it is powerful, non-polluting and generates almost no radioactive by-product.
The first time we needed the psychological shock of seeing them getting into space to jumpstart our own space effort. Once some country, like Russia or China or Timbuktu, lands on the Moon, then we'll start squawking about why we're not doing it too.
If the universe is a ball the size of America, then the solar system is almost as large as the smallest cell in the human body.