The Japanese spacecraft Kaguya, which launched in 2007 and impacted on the lunar surface (June 10, 2009), detected uranium with a gamma ray spectrometer.
Scientists are using several instruments to map the surface composition of the Moon, showing the presence of thorium, potassium, oxygen, magnesium, silicon, calcium, iron and titanium. According to researchers from several countries, the findings are the first conclusive evidence of the presence of radioactive elements in the lunar dust. The findings could help decide where to build future lunar colonies, as inhabited outposts need energy, minerals and other elements. These outposts, laboratories and facilities could potentially be fueled by nuclear power plants. There is also the possibility that our satellite can serve as source for the mining of uranium for Earth. The possibilities are endless.
More companies are looking at the moon as a business platform rather than what it is, a strange-looking moon that helps sustain life on Earth. Is it safe to exploit the moon in the way that companies and government agencies are aiming?
The other question being asked is if it is profitable. Even though space mining might look extremely attractive on paper, once you do the math you realize that is a very expensive project. Several companies are aiming at space mining, they know that, even though it is a very expensive project, the return of investment is huge!
Given a sufficiently advanced technology in the future, we would be able to build a spaceship with a mining platform, we will send it to the moon or asteroid belt, fill its cargo with minerals and/or precious minerals and send it back to Earth. Achieving that would change the life of every person on Earth. What was once the limit for humans, Earth, would now change and in the near future we can develop colonies and facilities like the International Space Station for different purposes. Space Tourism holds another card in this game.
The space mining industry will be a real gold rush since it is a very attractive business proposition. If a company can manage to crate a fleet of mining vessels that can travel to other moons or asteroids the possibilities would be huge. So, in the future, when mankind is sufficiently advanced, nations, companies and entrepreneurs will dispatch huge cargo ships to and from the moon and even to the asteroid belt. The idea of space mining will turn into the first real galactic gold rush, but not only gold, will be able to extract different minerals such as platinum, iridium and silicon… Global economies will be flooded with new wealth aimed at feeding the new desire for prosperity where we will start exploiting the riches of the Solar System. The times will be good, different and interesting, but remember, we are talking about the near future. You still have time to set up your private space-mining company!
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