China brought back helium-3 from the moon, opening the door to future technology

Chang’e 5 Chinese mission has A new mineral has returned from the surface of the moon. Chinese scientists call the mineral “Change Location- (Y). The metal is described By the state-run Xinhau News Agency As a kind of colorless transparent columnar crystal. Also, the Chinese claim that the new mineral contains helium 3an isotope that many scientists have described as a potential fuel for future fusion reactors.

The crystalline mineral was extremely tiny, about a tenth the size of a human hair. The new mineral is of great interest to lunar geologists. The helium-3 it contains has the potential to change the world.

Scientists have known that the lunar surface contains helium-3 deposits since the Apollo program. The main advantage of helium-3 fusion over fusion using tritium and deuterium, isotopes of hydrogen, is that it does not produce radioactive neutrons. Its main drawback is that achieving a controlled fusion reaction with helium-3 is much more difficult than using conventional fuels.

According to NASAChina is preparing to start the next phase of its lunar exploration program that will lead to a “research base” on the moon’s south pole. The planned tasks include:

  • Chang’e 6, which, like Chang’e 5, will be a sample return mission, focusing on the Moon’s south pole. It will probably try to bring back the ice in permanently shaded craters in Antarctica.
  • Chang’e 7, which will be an orbiter, lander, rover designed to explore for water in the south pole of the Moon. This mission may precede the Chang’e 6 mission.
  • Chang’e 8 is said to be designed to test technologies for the final construction of a lunar base.

China, possibly in partnership with Russia, is still planning a manned landing on the moon sometime in the 1930s.

Meanwhile, NASA has twice delayed the Artemis 1 mission It has a new release date. If all goes well, the Great Space Launch System rocket will blast off on September 27, with October 2 as a backup launch date. When launched, the mission will send an Orion spaceship, full of instruments and other cargo, on a long journey around the moon, before landing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

two robotic space missions, One through intuitive machinesThe Other by AstroboticIt is still slated to launch by the end of the year or early next year. If successful, probes will land on the surface of the moon, proving the effectiveness Commercial Lunar Payload Systems (CLPS) Program that pairs private companies with NASA to begin lunar exploration in earnest. More CLPS tasks will be carried out in the following years, although the program is haunted by it bankruptcy One of the participants, Masten Space Systems.

NASA still plans to send Artemis 2 and a crew of four astronauts, one of whom is from Canada, around the moon in 2024. Next year (or possibly the following year), Artemis 3 will land the first astronauts on the moon since the 1972 Apollo 17 mission.

There are many reasons for returning to the moon: SciencesAnd the trade And bragging rights that translate to soft political power. However, China’s return of helium-3 suggests that the moon could become the Persian Gulf from the mid-to-late 21st century. Clean and abundant fusion energy will change the world in ways that are difficult to assess.

Of course, the problem of getting the helium-3 fusion technology to work remains. Helium-3 fusion may not become a reality before the middle of this century due to the technological hurdles involved. However, some changes in US space and energy policy may hasten the emergence of helium-3 fusion.

The United States should begin testing lunar mining operations, especially the extraction of helium-3 from lunar soil. Then helium-3 can be transported back to Earth and submitted to research laboratories so they can continue research and development of what is a solution to both energy scarcity and climate change.

The country that controls the energy source that keeps technological civilization going will control the Earth. If China becomes that country, given its human rights record and imperial foreign policy, history will take a dark turn. Therefore, the United States and countries that have signed the Artemis agreements must control lunar helium-3 and develop technology for its use as a source of fusion energy. Thus, the Artemis program will ensure continued prosperity and human freedom on Earth.

Mark R. Whittington is the author of Space Exploration Studies.Why is it so hard to go back to the moon?” Beside “Moon, Mars, and beyond,” And the “Why does America return to the moon?It is blogger in Guards Corner.