Fly Me to the Moon--I Need Unlimited Natural Resources
In an effort to fuel our insatiable needs for energy, some scientists and entrepreneurs are suggesting that space may indeed be the new frontier (um, again). Humans could mine the solar system for its abundant natural resources both making space travel self-sustaining and bringing helpful resources back to good ol’ Earth, according to an article at Wired News... Of course, mining planets and asteroids and using nuclear power in space may bring up points of contention—not to mention real estate lawyers--but it is possible that robots and space explorer-excavators could uncover the necessary ice and hydrogen to support their activities on the moon and Mars.
In fact, NASA is counting on space's natural resources to help fulfill the mission of one of its new programs. And asteroid impact sites are likely to yield rich deposits of copper, nickel and other metals that could be used there and also brought back to Earth. Lunar and Martian soil could be used for building materials and as a shield for nuclear reactors. On top of all that, the solar system's seemingly limitless energy and mineral wealth could solve Earth's resource shortages. (NB: We have no idea why we’d still need nuclear reactors after we figure out how to get all this limitless energy.)
Other scientists have proposed gathering energy by using solar panels that orbit the Earth and others situated on the moon, which would beam electricity back to Earth using microwaves and lasers.
And we’ll be mining lunar resources within 15 years, predicts Peter Diamandis, founder and president of the Ansari X Prize Foundation, which awarded $10 million to the designers of privately built spacecraft SpaceShipOne.