Bigelow Aerospace applied to the Federal Aviation Administration for a four-year license to land on the moon and built the world's first privately owned commercial space station.
Three years have passed since Moon Express actually received such a license, with the plan to build a lunar mine.
And it's been two years since Brown University researchers reviewed data from lunar rocks retrieved in the 1970s from the Apollo 15 and Apollo 17 lunar landings. concluded that there could be something on the moon worth to be mined. (Note: It is moon-water, or more precisely, ice that could be melted and then separated into liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for use as a rocket fuel.)
Now, however, there seems to be something more substantial of the moon being mined. The only question is: What is it?
Survey (or) says …
That was the question many investors asked last week when the media received a report from Baylor University scientists published by the American Geophysical Union, according to which "conspicuous mass surplus" directly under the lunar surface had been discovered.
Speculation started immediately. Could the mass be the mineral remains of an asteroid that hit the moon? Or is it perhaps a strange by-product of the moon's cooling process that shifted part of its metal core near the surface of the satellite?
Regardless of this mass, the topography data from NASA's Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter combined with the global gravity data from two NASA spacecraft for gravity recovery and the indoor laboratory confirm that they exist ̵
That's a huge pile of … something. But again: what is that something?
A metal mountain – as big as Hawaii
Fans of the famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson may wonder if it's gold. As Tyson reminded us in an interview in 2017, there are almost certainly asteroids loaded with precious metals – and "the man who first learns to mine asteroids and return their minerals to Earth will become the first trillionaire." 19659002] Could Baylor's scientists have found such a large pile of gold on the moon?
That's probably too much to expect, but it's almost certainly a kind of metal. Dr. Peter James, a professor of planetary geophysics at Baylor University, describes the discovery in a poetic way: "Imagine burying a five-fold larger metal pile than the great island of Hawaii underground, that's about the amount of unexpected mass, that we discovered. "  A Great Discovery That Is Virtually Free
Baylor's team suspects that the mass consists of "oxides from the last phase of magma-ocean crystallization" – in one word: iron. And of course that does not sound too exciting if you were hoping for gold. Remember, however, that a single kilogram (much less than 2.18 x 10-to-the-18th power kilograms) of water, gold, iron, or anything, is really about $ 20,000, to lift off the earth and into orbit.
However, this mass is already in orbit – for free there.
The fact is that even 2.18 trillion kilograms of bare iron that is already in orbit around the Earth are economically quite a big deal. It is a resource that could be used to build houses, factories, entire lunar bases – even spaceships – on-site on the Moon, without the cost of "importing" iron from Earth.
As seen Companies like Moon Express and Planetary Resources and even whole countries like Canada and Luxembourg are interested in mining the planets, satellites and asteroids of the solar system for metals. If the results of the Baylor scientists are confirmed, this hawaii-sized metal pile on the moon would be a real incentive and the beginning of a sound business plan for the dismantling of the moon.
This is an ideal destination for NASA as it prepares its plan for America's return to the moon in 2024. Finally, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote for a NASA blog earlier this year: "This time, when we go to the moon we will stay." A ready-made resource for landing and refining at the landing pad would make "staying" on the moon much more comfortable do.
But NASA should do better fast. According to the report of the Baylor scientists, this huge pile of metal is buried on the moon under the South Pole Aitken basin on the other side of the moon – exactly where China landed its Chang'e-4 spaceship and its jade Rabbit 2 Moon Rovers in January.
The race is open. And this time, it's not just about reaching the moon, but also about reducing its wealth.