The idea may still sound strange to some people, but several scientists actually say that mining the moon is a possible plan achievable in the near future. And by “near”, they mean the end of this decade.
The Northern Centre for Advanced Technology, also known as Norcat, is one of the organizations across the world studying the best wayto develop profitable mining technology that could be used in space. In fact, they have been developing drills for NASA and the Canadian Space Agency since 1999.
“We are on the threshold of a boom in mining the Moon”,a senior developer from Norcat said in 2013. And he is probably right! Earth’s satellite is stuffed with rare earth elements and other precious and useful minerals that have helped create our current lifestyle. In other words, you can kiss your smartphone and computer goodbye if the Earth runs out of these elements. However, discovering them in the Moon would mean an extra reserve at our disposal, as you can see in the following infographic.
For now there are three big countries with their eyes set on the sky: the United States, Canada and China. These world powers have already expressed their interest in extracting resources from the Moon and from asteroids surrounding the Earth.
They know this adventure will be profitable, thanks to the scientists that have previously detected valuable minerals in the satellite and rock formations. The Canadian Space Agency has even developed and tested lunar robots equipped with drills to dig, within a partnership with NASA, and the China National Space Administration recently landed a robot on the Moon.
Even just mining for water in space would be profitable: the deposits could theoretically help the countries save the costs of transporting water into space. However, several questions about ownership rights and other legal problems keep creating challenges that the space mining teams and companies aren’t ready to resolve… yet!