China wants to exploit the Moon as a source of energy for the Earth. His intention is to use a strange helium isotope (Helium-3) that exists on the satellite and that, according to scientists, could satisfy the planet's global energy demand in the future.
Specifically, the chief scientist of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, Ouyang Ziyuan, has explained to the newspaper 'The Times' that the nuclear fusion of Helium-3, which is produced on the Moon by solar winds, could "solve the demand for energy for at least 10,000 years. "
In this sense, the experts point out that the amount of this new energy source that a space shuttle could transport would allow the United States to ‘feed’ for a year at the current rate of energy consumption.
And to achieve this strange isotope, China would need to practice satellite mining in an area roughly the size of the city of Washington, D.C.
Scientists have explained that this isotope is so rare on Earth because the atmosphere and the magnetic field prevent it from reaching the surface. However, the Moon does not have this problem as it has no layers to avoid and Helium-3 can be absorbed by its soil.
The expert Fabrizio Bozzato has recently published a work in which he determines that Helium-3 can be extracted by heating lunar dust to around 600 ° C, before bringing it back to Earth. The gas, according to his calculations, has a potential economic value of more than 2 billion euros per ton, so that, in his opinion, mining on the satellite would be "completely viable".
Regarding the cost of the mission, American scientists have estimated that the development of fusion, the development of rockets and the start of operations would cost about 15 million euros over two decades.
But China also has to confront the United Nations Outer Space Treaty, which it has signed, and which suggests that lunar resources are for all of humanity. Still, experts point out that the language is ambiguous enough to allow commercial exploitation of the Moon.