Sometimes, I feel like scientists and technologists are cut off from the rest of the world. I continually giggle when Uber and Lyft suggest plans that are essentially reinventions of a city bus or subway system. Or when a library plans to transcribe magical manuscripts. Does no one else watch horror movies? But this latest tech thing sounds super cool, until I remember it’s the premise of so many dystopian novels.
Moon Express has plans to land modules on the moon, and eventually start mining it. First they will send a robotic explorer, then set up a commercial presence on the moon, and then start the third mission, “Harvest Moon” that will bring samples from the moon back to Earth by 2020. I wonder if they will also have to save a village or get married in this version of Harvest Moon…
But it’s not just a matter of bringing back some cool moon rocks for collectors or something. This mission could have serious implications for space travel in general. As explained on the Moon Express site:
One of the greatest practical space discoveries of our generation is the presence of vast quantities of water on the Moon, verified by NASA in 2009. Water (H2O) not only supports life, but its constituents hydrogen and oxygen can be used as rocket fuel. The discovery of water on the Moon is a game changer, not just for the economic viability of lunar resources, but for the economics of reaching Mars and other deep space destinations. Water is the oil of the solar system, and the Moon will become a gas station in the sky.
This is sounding more and more like something out of the SF stories I like to read and watch. Could we end up with people living on the moon, working in the mines? Lunar petrol stations, refueling space crafts? It might sound a bit far-fetched right now, but just imagine if in a few years time your bottled water is tapped at the freshest source of moon water.
While sometimes it feels like we’re going backward on this planet, it’s cool to see that technology is continually taking us into the future.
Last Updated: July 13, 2017