China Targets Moon
NASA Articles 10/24/11
By: Chris Capps
In the long history of the Apollo program, there were a number of dreams proposed to launch mankind into the future- one of which would eventually be realized in time. The first human footprints on the moon helped a whole generation refine their dreams and what it meant to be human. But now a second trip to China is being proposed - this time by China - and it has some, like Billionaire Robert Bigelow concerned.
Humans in general have always had a drive to expand beyond their established horizons. Since the first people, there has always been a drive to find new things and discover new ways of getting there. For years we have been searching for the way to blast off into the future. And now it seems like that task, originally thought to be integral to western civilization's progress is being shifted over to China, which Bigelow suggested in an interview with MSNBC has quite a bit to gain from launching an exploration mission into space.
Though the moon has always been a distant place to make a landing, it has also always been seen as one of the most powerful potential targets for a space mission due to its rich natural resources, such as Helium 3 and now the newly discovered deposits of water - which can be harvested both for oxygen and water. If China's moon mission succeeds, it could be immensely beneficial for them during a time when resources on Earth are feeling considerably more strain than before. Bigelow did warn, however, that the benefits could quickly move beyond the grasp of the United States if the US forgot its repeated missions to the moon.
Of course this is in stark contrast to the dreams of a moon base the west had in the 1960's and 1970's. Media of the past half century such as Space: 1999 and 2001: A Space Odyssey portrayed the then future (now past) as a glittering world where humanity had reached out and made the moon its home away from home. But when the reality hit, a question that came up frequently was just how profitable such a venture would be. And now it looks like the potential for a space program could be quite profitable indeed - particularly as we discover more asteroids passing by our planet made of deposits of rich minerals. For example, AU79 which was analyzed in 2010 includes an extremely high gold concentration. Even if only 10 percent of the meteor were to turn out to be gold, it would amount to more than all the gold ever mined in the history of the world ever - a weight of over 20 million metric tons. Any expedition to mine the asteroid could quickly pay for itself. And if the asteroid were brought into orbit around the moon and then shipped back to Earth, it would not only pay for itself, but the profits of such a venture would become the backbone of any nation seeking it. And of course there are plenty of other asteroids out there with equally interesting ore deposits for use in computers, industrial ventures, and any number of other ventures.