Moon Ice: Why Do We Want Moon Water? - MyMoon

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MOON ICE: WHY DO WE WANT MOON WATER?

One thing that puzzles a lot of people these days with the Moon is: why do companies want to mine water ice...on the Moon? Why do we want moon water---there’s plenty of water on Earth!

inline image NASA image of the ice-rich Shackleton Crater.

Looking at the business plans of companies like Astrobotic, it does seem a little puzzling. What’s so exciting about ice on the Moon? We can just bring water from Earth, right?

Well, the value in lunar H20 is actually not the H20. It’s the H!

inline image NASA image of a Wallops rocket launch.

In short, Moon water ice can be used to make rocket fuel. So the Moon could basically serve as a sort of gas station (and/or fuel source for ones that are closer to home).

inline image MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates image of an upcoming satellite gas station; via Space.com.

The most expensive part of space travel is simply launching off of the Earth---every pound of weight you have to launch becomes $10,000 in cost. So the more fuel you carry, the more expensive your launch gets (by a lot!).

It’s so expensive to launch weight off of Earth, that it may in fact be---in the end---cheaper to go to the Moon; mine water ice there for fuel; and ship it back to Earth orbit, than it would be to produce & launch all that fuel off of Earth.

So, the way I see it is that companies potentially have done the homework to compare costs...and found that there is definitely a market for the cost-saving of Moon gas stations (presumably in Earth orbit, as a service for anyone else going to the Moon or elsewhere. Say, Mars).

All of this derived from that water ice on the Moon that’s been found in such massive abundance. Fill ‘er up!

What do you think? Do you see this as a business model that will pick up steam?

COMMUNITY COMMENTS:

Abhimat G.

Monday Oct-01-2012

I think that once there are missions to places beyond into the solar system, we could definitely start seeing them taking advantage of the resources on the Moon. Otherwise, launching all that material out of Earth would become too expensive to conduct many missions.

By the way, I like the “pick up steam” pun, intentional or not. :)

Demarcus B.

Tuesday Oct-23-2012

I agree this will be a market when government agencies push further into space, and commercial space companies become more popular. Mining asteroids could be just as profitable as mining the Moon.

William K.

Thursday Oct-25-2012

Utilizing the resources found on other bodies in space, whether it be the Moon, asteroids, other planets, etc. It is known that planet Earth is running out of very important resources, therefore, if these resources are found on other planets, it would be inevitable to being mining on these bodies in order to utilize these resources. The only downfall to this, however, is that we could harm these news planets in the same way that we have harmed our own planet. Therefore, the question would come down to, is it worth it?


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