Elvis calls for “Space Wilderness” to Protect Solar System From Mining!

Guest ridiculing marveling by David Middleton

I had to take a break from writing the sequel to How Climate Change Buried a Desert 20,000 Feet Beneath the Gulf of Mexico Seafloor after running across this gem on Real Clear Science this morning…

Malthusians in Space!

From The Grauniad’s “You Couldn’t Make This Sort of Schist Up If You Were Trying Desk”….

Protect solar system from mining ‘gold rush’, say scientists
Proposal calls for wilderness protection as startup space miners look to the stars

Ian Sample Science editor
Sun 12 May 2019 13.24 EDT

Great swathes of the solar system should be preserved as official “space wilderness” to protect planets, moons and other heavenly bodies from rampant mining and other forms of industrial exploitation, scientists say.
The proposal calls for more than 85% of the solar system to be placed off-limits to human development, leaving little more than an eighth for space firms to mine for precious metals, minerals and other valuable materials.

While the limit would protect pristine worlds from the worst excesses of human activity, its primary goal is to ensure that humanity avoids a catastrophic future in which all of the resources within its reach are permanently used up.

“If we don’t think about this now, we will go ahead as we always have, and in a few hundred years we will face an extreme crisis, much worse than we have on Earth now,” said Martin Elvis, a senior astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Once you’ve exploited the solar system, there’s nowhere left to go.”


The Grauniad

I was going to ridicule this article… But then I realized that it was self-ridiculing. Literally, every sentence is stupid. I am literally marveling in this article…

Elvis in Space!

Working with Tony Milligan, a philosopher at King’s College London, Elvis analysed how soon humans might use up the solar system’s most accessible resources should space mining take off.

Elvis has left the planet…
“Elvis is not dead, he just went home!”
Thank you, thank you very much.

Because humans might struggle to mine the sun, or extract useful materials from Jupiter, a gas giant with more mass than the rest of the solar system’s planets combined, the researchers see asteroids, the moon, Mars and other rocky planets as the most realistic targets for space miners.

Elvis and the philosopher
Elvis and the philosopher “see asteroids, the moon, Mars and other rocky planets as the most realistic targets for space miners. “

“Do we want cities on the near side of the moon that light up at night? Would that be inspiring or horrifying?”

“Do we want cities on the near side of the moon that light up at night?”

We certainly wouldn’t want the Moon to be lit up at night. This would be horrifying…

Why Does the Moon Shine?

A dose of reality

New NASA Mission to Help Us Learn How to Mine Asteroids

Apollo’s Legacy Is NASA’s Future
NASA has been discussing concepts for human lunar exploration since the Apollo flights ended. In this 1995 artist’s concept, a lunar mining operation harvests oxygen from the lunar soil in Mare Serenatatis, a few kilometers from the Apollo 17 landing site.
Image Credit: SAIC/Pat Rawlings

There’s Helium-3 in them thar regoliths

What would we mine on the Moon?

The presence of helium-3 was confirmed in moon samples returned by the Apollo missions, and Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, a geologist who walked on the moon in December 1972, is an avid proponent of mining helium-3.

“It is thought that this isotope could provide safer nuclear energy in a fusion reactor, since it is not radioactive and would not produce dangerous waste products,’’ the European Space Agency said.
There are an estimated 1 million metric tons of helium-3 embedded in the moon, though only about a quarter of that realistically could be brought to Earth, said Gerald Kulcinski, director of the Fusion Technology Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a former member of the NASA Advisory Council.

That’s still enough to meet the world’s current energy demands for at least two, and possibly as many as five, centuries, Kulcinski said. He estimated helium-3’s value at about $5 billion a ton, meaning 250,000 tons would be worth in the trillions of dollars.

The Quest to Find a Trillion-Dollar Nuclear Fuel on the Moon, Bloomberg, June 26, 2018

How would it affect the Moon if we removed 250,000 metric tons of 3He from the lunar regolith?

Apollo samples collected in 1969 by Neil Armstrong on the first lunar landing, and other samples collected on later missions, have shown that helium-3 concentrations in many lunar soils are at least thirteen parts per billion by weight. Detailed analyses of lunar soil samples and other evidence indicate that in situ helium-3 concentrations probably range between twenty and thirty parts per billion in undisturbed, titanium-rich soils (Schmitt, 2006, pp. 86-92). Schmitt concludes that helium-3 averages about 20ppb in the titanium-rich impact commutated basalt regolith, of Mare Tranquillitatis sampled by Apollo 11. Extrapolation of data from neutron spectrographic measurements of hydrogen concentrations in lunar polar regions (Feldman, et al, 1998; Maurice, S., et al, 2004) indicate that helium-3 may triple in average abundance at latitudes above 70 due to cold trapping (Schmitt, et al, 2000; Cocks, personal communication, 2009).

Twenty parts per billion may not seem like much; however, the value of helium-3 relative to the probable energy equivalent value of coal in 2010-2020, estimated conservatively at $2.50 per million BTU (0.25 x 106kcal) will be almost $1400 per gram ($40,000 per ounce)! This compares with about $28 per gram ($800 per ounce) for gold at the beginning of 2009. At $1400 per gram, one hundred kilograms (220 pounds) of helium-3 would be worth about $140 million. One hundred kilograms constitutes more than enough fuel to potentially power a 1000 megawatt electric plant for a year when fused with deuterium, the terrestrially abundant heavy isotope of hydrogen.

The production of a hundred kilograms (220 pounds) of helium-3 per year would require annual mining and processing of about two square kilometers (1.6 sq. mi.) of the lunar surface to a depth of three meters (9.8 ft.) (Schmitt, 2006, pp. 92-98). In turn, that annual rate requires hourly mining of an area about twenty-eight meters square (92 ft.) and three meters (9.1 ft.) deep along with the hourly processing of the finest fifty percent of the mined soil (about 2000 tonnes/hour or 4400 ton/hour) to extract its gases. This is not a high mining and processing rate by terrestrial standards, although a high degree of automation will be required on the Moon relative to mining and processing of raw materials on Earth. The annual rate only mandates two, ten-hour mining shifts per day, twenty days out of each lunar month (about twenty-seven Earth-days long). If experience shows that preventive and actual maintenance takes less than seven days per lunar month, then mining and processing rates can be higher. Personnel needed per miner-processor are estimated at an average of eight, including operations, maintenance and support crew (Schmitt, 2006, pp. 134-137).

Schmitt et al., 2011

Pretend for a moment that significant figures don’t matter…

  • 2 km2 x 0.003 km —> 100 kg 3He
  • 0.006 km3 —> 100 kg 3He
  • 6 km3 —> 1 metric ton 3He
  • 1,500,000 km3 —> 250,000 metric ton 3He

What’s the volume of the Moon? 21,900,000,000 km3 … The removal of 0.007% of the Moon could provide all of mankind’s energy needs for 200-500 years. 99.993% of the moon would be unaffected. What’s that? We would be scarring the Moon with holes?


If digging up 5,000 km2 of the lunar regolith would yield enough 3He to power our civilization for 200 to 500 years… I say, “Go for it!”… particularly since there are already holes on the Moon much larger than the ones we would dig.

Biggest, Deepest Crater Exposes Hidden, Ancient Moon

Shortly after the Moon formed, an asteroid smacked into its southern hemisphere and gouged out a truly enormous crater, the South Pole-Aitken basin, almost 1,500 miles across and more than five miles deep.

“This is the biggest, deepest crater on the Moon — an abyss that could engulf the United States from the East Coast through Texas,” said Noah Petro of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The impact punched into the layers of the lunar crust, scattering that material across the Moon and into space. The tremendous heat of the impact also melted part of the floor of the crater, turning it into a sea of molten rock.

That was just an opening shot. Asteroid bombardment over billions of years has left the lunar surface pockmarked with craters of all sizes, and covered with solidified lava, rubble, and dust. Glimpses of the original surface, or crust, are rare, and views into the deep crust are rarer still.
Fortunately, a crater on the edge of the South Pole-Aitken basin may provide just such a view. Called the Apollo Basin and formed by the later impact of a smaller asteroid, it still measures a respectable 300 miles across.



The lunar surface has an area of about 235 million km2 . The Aitken basin covers 4.6 million km2 . The Moon can spare 5,000 km2 of regolith.

“Elvis is everywhere”

Of course, no post about Elvis in Space could be complete without a little Mojo Nixon…


Schmitt, Harrison H., Mark W. Henley, Kim Kuhlman, Gerald. L. Kulcinski, John F. Santarius, Lawrence A. Taylor. “Lunar Helium-3 Fusion Resource Distribution”. University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2011)

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Donald Kasper
May 13, 2019 6:27 pm

Come on, we all know you cannot mine the moon. It has those giant worms there. The Us military will have to control all moon mining because it has the spice to allow intergalactic space travel.

Donald Kasper
May 13, 2019 6:29 pm

You cannot mine the moon, it has those giant worms there. This is well documents in a book about this.

Reply to  Donald Kasper
May 14, 2019 6:03 am

Giant worms, how silly. Everyone knows there is a beautiful girl with a giant rabbit on the moon. They even discussed looking for it during the Apollo 11 moon landing:

“Houston: Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning, there’s one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-o has been living there for 4000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill of immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is always standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not reported.

Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin: Okay. We’ll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl.”

Reply to  RicDre
May 14, 2019 12:19 pm


This one was pre-internet, so it must be true! It was my very first conspiracy theory.

tsk tsk
Reply to  David Middleton
May 13, 2019 7:16 pm

The only Duncan Idaho I know died in Dune. It’s too bad they never wrote a sequel, just like it’s too bad they never did a sequel to The Matrix

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  tsk tsk
May 14, 2019 7:42 pm

There have been several Dune movies, and a TV series (which is quite a lot better than the movies).
The movie was based on Frank Herbert’s novel Dune. There are many many follow up novels by Frank, and his children.

Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor Dune (where Duncan gets constantly cloned), Heretics of Dune, Chapterhouse Dune, ect.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  David Middleton
May 13, 2019 7:46 pm

They could use me as a cloning pattern as long as they cloned Kate Upton to accompany me each time. 😎

George E. Smith
Reply to  David Middleton
May 16, 2019 10:51 am

The feature of Lunar Mining; other than the sheer lunacy of such an idea, that caught my attention, was the presence of 3He, as a safe Nuclear Fusion fuel; non radio-active, etc.

Now when people flash “Nuclear Fusion” before your eyes; they are universally referring to “Thermo-Nuclear Fusion” as a source of unlimited energy; you can get all you need from the top 1/16th of an inch of the water in San Francisco Bay etc.

So that begs an important question: …. Does anybody know of a serious scientific paper in any reputable Science or Energy Journal , that “proves” that getting net usable controlled, and controllable energy from thermo-nuclear fusion is even theoretically possible.

In this context, what I mean by “proof” is a credible blueprint drawing of what such a thermo-nuclear fusion energy plant would consist of; and how large (or small) would such an energy plant be, and how exactly would it energy process work; starting from fuelling it with a fusible fuel (any votes for 3He) to turning on the main breaker, to allow cheap clean green nearly infinite availability electricity to flow to the grid.

Now I happen to know a thing or two about “nuclear fusion” energy. I actually did (circa 1959/60) a Masters in Physics thesis project to detect the 14 MeV neutrons that one gets from a DT fusion; and moreover, I could discriminate them from the roughly 3.6MeV alpha particle that also resulted from that reaction, and I could discriminate both of those from fast electrons resulting from gamma rays, and detect all three at very high efficiency compared to the then competitive detection methods, like proportional gas counters.

So no; I did not get a MSc degree out of that. I never took the final exams, and never wrote up and published the detector paper; but I built the detector, and its associated electronics processing; and it all worked.
For those interested, the primary detector was the scintillation of a Stilbene Crystal using a venetian blind photo-multiplier tube. I was able to simultaneously measure both the peak pulse voltage and the total charge area of the pulse, byt taking signals from the final anode, which was integrated to get the area, and a secondary signal from the last dynode, captured with a wide band amplifier to get the pulse peak value.

The ratio of those two signals is a unique function of the particle species, since more massive species produce a larger amplitude long time constant tail for a given peak pulse height. Both are still linear with the particle energy.

So we actually did DT fusion experiments, by firing Deuterons at a heavy ice target, which gets you DD fusions, that can result in getting some Ts, and eventually DT fusions that result in about 17.6Mev of which 80% is in the neutron.

So the problem is that the fusion energy is simply the KE of a neutron and an alpha (for that particular fusion reaction, and that means it is …. HEAT …. which is the garbage dump of the energy spectrum.

So we were not doing ” Thermo” nuclear fusion; the heavy ice was cooled to liquid nitrogen Temperature on a copper heat sink.

So that’s the easy part. We used a 600kV Cockroft Walton accelerator to shoot the Deuterons at the ice. You only need a few thousand volts collision energy to get the nuclei to fuse (when they collide); but in thermo nuclear fusion you are simply using the random KE of thermal energy to get the fusions.

So I have no idea, how one would build a working power plant, and how big it would have to be to work; or how small it could be if you wanted to put one in your car.

You see stars work by gravitation: It sucks ! and all you need is enough fuel in one place, and it works by itself. But it won’t fit in a car. Brown Dwarf stars give us a rough idea of how big a gravity fusion reactor needs to be.

But we have to do it with the only other long range force which is the coulomb force, and that both sucks and blows.

Earnshaw’s theorem says there are no stable static systems of entities subject only to inverse square law forces. And those are the only two known such forces.

So if you know of a proof of concept paper for controlled and controllable thermo-nuclear fusion net power; I for one would like to read it.


May 13, 2019 6:47 pm

The proposal calls for more than 85% of the solar system to be placed off-limits to human development, …

Very nearly 100% of the solar system is off limits to human development for the forsesible future. The part of the solar system which is susceptible to human development is tiny.

tsk tsk
Reply to  David Middleton
May 13, 2019 7:18 pm

We have to save the rest of the Solar system so that the Sun can destroy it in ~5BB years.


Reply to  tsk tsk
May 14, 2019 2:15 pm

Beanz meanz Scienz…and beanz makez you f*rt

Reply to  commieBob
May 14, 2019 4:19 am

“The part of the solar system which is susceptible to human development is tiny.”
That is the first part that will be off limit.

Reply to  commieBob
May 14, 2019 7:38 am

“Once you’ve exploited the solar system, there’s nowhere left to go.”
Really, our solar system is as far we can go? This comment is from “a senior astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts”?
I am a bit disappointed that an “senior astrophysicist” would have such myopic view of the UNIVERSE.

Reply to  Rocketscientist
May 14, 2019 12:49 pm

I would hope that in the 100’s of thousands of years it will take us to finish exploiting this solar system, we will be able to build something of taking us to other starts. Even if it’s just generation ships.

Charlie Adamson
May 13, 2019 7:02 pm

David,.. you’ve out done yourself. This article from The Grauniad is totally off the rails and/or these people outright HATE all of mankind. What ever has infected their minds is terminal. I wonder if they will finally take the leap and put an end to their self imposed abject misery?

Now I’m wondering if these people are presenting symptoms of a new type of insanity. It sure is starting to look like it.

At least it gave you a much needed break from your research.
Thanks for all the good work you bring to this site.

Greg Woods
Reply to  Charlie Adamson
May 14, 2019 12:31 am

Elvis has definitely left the building…

Reply to  Charlie Adamson
May 14, 2019 3:31 pm

Yes, it is mass insanity, but it has nothing to do with lemmings. Please do not compare these fear-ridden nutballs with lemmings.

I’m sure they will also object to mining Titan’s atmosphere for methane with a Bespin gas mining setup, won’t they? There’s enough methane (needs to be refined, but it’s methane) on and around Titan to fuel Earth’s needs for a very, very long time. And what would happen to Titan if we mined it? NOTHING!!!! It might smell better, but otherwise…. NOTHING!!!!!

Reply to  Sara
May 14, 2019 5:10 pm

Let’s see: Europa has an oxygen atmosphere and a water-ice crust. Now if we put Titan and Europa together, what might happen? Think of the chemistry between the two of them!!! The possibilities!!!

May 13, 2019 7:02 pm


As you say, no need to ridicule this junk as it is self-ridiculing. Please continue your excellent geologic summary Norphlet deposition.

May 13, 2019 7:13 pm

Hey, they missed a huge threat to Earth! If we mined minerals and rare earths (need a new term for that!) from planetary bodies to such a degree that we depleted all the resources in the Solar System, how much mass will we be bringing back to earth? If a small temperature increase can exterminate life on Earth, then a fractional change in gravity will clearly be catastrophic as well!

We must forbid returning any more space mass back to Earth! No more moon rocks. No Martian soil samples. The future depends on us to stop bringing extraterrestrial material to Earth (never mind that meteorites add tons of dust to the Earth each day. That’s natural. The only thing that creates change is what Man does). And think of the children. How would a stronger Earth gravitational field affect our already obese kids?

(is there a redicule tag?)

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  jtom
May 13, 2019 8:59 pm

To mine on Moon or Mars would require a certain amount of equipment of non-negligible mass. At least initially, until shipments coming back grow large, Earth would lose mass and gravity.

As for “ meteorites add tons of dust to the Earth each day“, I have noticed that increase in gravity. In the last 50 years I have gotten shorter and wider. So while gravity seems like a law, it is personally not good.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
May 13, 2019 9:28 pm

I thought gravity seemed more like a suggestion than a law.

Randall Grubb
Reply to  H.R.
May 15, 2019 2:18 pm

The opposite of gravity is comedy.

Reply to  jtom
May 13, 2019 10:47 pm

What a wonderful lead to “Ceres” by L. Neil Smith. There Null Delta M opposes returning mined elements to Earth for fear of it causing tectonic plates to shift.

Reply to  David Middleton
May 14, 2019 6:48 pm

Along those lines; If we remove a bunch of the Helium, wouldn’t that make the moon heavier, not lighter?
(snrk on/off)

Dodgy Geezer
Reply to  jtom
May 14, 2019 6:20 am

The Earth is gaining mass from external sources all the time, since it sweeps up interplanetary dust round its orbit, and has occasional larger masses impacting it. It gets about 40,000 tons per year.

However, this is offset by the amount of hydrogen it looses, since this is swept off the top of the atmosphere. About 90,000 tons leaves us in this way every year.

So the Earth is getting lighter! If this trend were to continue, and increase, as it might if we went over to hydrogen fuel extensively, then life on Earth as we know it could vanish, floating off into interplanetary space.

This has actually been noted by the scientific alarmists – see https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24180-strength-of-gravity-shifts-and-this-time-its-serious/

Gunga Din
Reply to  jtom
May 14, 2019 6:22 am

The solution is simple. Limit the mass of the materials allowed to be “imported” to the Earth to the mass of the materials “exported” from the Earth.
Why, we could even use the far side of the Moon as a dumping/storage area for all the junk we don’t want in landfills an Yucca Mountain!
(Oh wait! We better skip the Yucca Mountain stuff. I saw a documentary about that once. I think it was called “Space: 1999”.)

Hugh Mannity
Reply to  Gunga Din
May 14, 2019 9:45 am

But what about the secret Nazi base on the dark side of the moon?

Reply to  Hugh Mannity
May 14, 2019 1:07 pm

also forgetting that the moon is hollow (it rings like a bell when bopped hard) … constructed by others. So not much mining to be done.

Reply to  jtom
May 14, 2019 7:32 am

Don’t look know, but the earth is getting heavier by multiple tons every day.
From all the micro-comets and meteors that hit it each day.

May 13, 2019 7:26 pm

I’m kind of with the nuts on this one. Do we really need to trash the moon?

Reply to  David Middleton
May 14, 2019 9:31 am

Well, got to protect all that lunar wildlife, such as the Giant Lunar Crater Squirrel, the Lunar Night Lizard, and the Spotted Lunar Red Owl.

Reply to  Adam
May 14, 2019 11:22 am

while protecting all that lunar wildlife, just be sure not to eat beans!

Reply to  Erny72
May 14, 2019 10:29 pm


Reply to  archie
May 13, 2019 7:35 pm

Better the moon than Earth. When easily recoverable land resources run short, its either mine the ocean or mine asteroids, nobody will tolerate then end of modern civilisation.

Kevin Lohse
Reply to  Eric Worrall
May 13, 2019 10:31 pm

Erm….. check the latest fantastical initiatives from the Democrats and the Western Left in general. The end of modern civilisation is the optimum result for them, a 90% reduction in the human population and a return to medieval squalor and life expectancy the desired result.

Reply to  Kevin Lohse
May 18, 2019 8:50 am

That is the establishment. As a leftist, I am 100% for colonizing the solarsystem and going interstellar.

Reply to  archie
May 14, 2019 8:03 am

Just trash the side of the moon we never have to look at.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  archie
May 14, 2019 10:41 am

What? The moon is an airless, barren rock that is constantly getting bombarded by micro meteorites everyday. And once in a while it gets hit by something much bigger. So you can’t stop the moon from being “trashed”. May as well take advantage of it, if you can.

May 13, 2019 7:30 pm

Legendary Canadian ballistics engineer Gerald Bull solved the problem of cheap chemical powered space launch.

Unfortunately the only person who listened to him was Saddam Hussein.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
May 13, 2019 11:18 pm

Yes indeed… the Israeli Intelligence were listening as well if I recall correctly. I wonder why we aren’t launching building materials and 40 ton frozen ‘bullets’ of water/ice for rocket fuel into orbit with an electric/chemical rail gun space launch from a tunnelled out mountain near the equator. Would still need rockets for human flight due to the enormous G forces, but a rail gun space launcher would be relatively cheap to operate and launch basic materials once the facility was built.

Michael Ozanne
Reply to  Earthling2
May 14, 2019 1:45 am

“The moon is a harsh mistress” 😛

Russ Wood
Reply to  Michael Ozanne
May 18, 2019 5:33 am

Yep! R A Heinlein at his best, and most iconoclastic!

Christopher Chantrill
May 13, 2019 7:33 pm

Yeah, but what about the National Parks in Space? If we are going to have wildernesses in space then I demand National Parks.

Tom Saunders
Reply to  Christopher Chantrill
May 13, 2019 9:12 pm

Is there like an Eagle Pass or something with that? how about collectable bumper stickers at each gift shop?

Reply to  Christopher Chantrill
May 14, 2019 9:13 am

National Parks are not wilderness. They are parks, and were intended to be visited by people. The NPS and elitist Left want to keep people out and convert National Parks into wilderness areas. Such a change in status of the National Parks is off mission, and should be stopped.
Sadly, the process of removing people from the National Parks is well under way. For example, about 10 years ago, Yosemite National Park officials proposed requiring reservations to climb to the top of Half Dome rather than letting people freely walk the trails from the valley floor to the top. They published data on the hazards of having people climbing the cables on the side of Half Dome and being on the top. Sometimes hundreds of people are there at the same time. There have been deaths and injuries, so they claimed they needed the control.
Sounds reasonable, right?
Well, the problem is, the data actually showed the normal summer climbers even with hundreds on the dome did not have accidents and deaths. The accidents and deaths occurred off-season when the rock was wet, and far fewer people were on the mountain. So the data showed exactly the opposite of the claims.
Furthermore, the publication cited concerns about people walking on the trails disrupting nature. Anybody who has ever been there knows the trails however wide are a relatively microscopic portion of the landscape. Go a few yards off the trail, and the Park is as wild as can be, except larger animals avoid people and stay away from the trails during the day.
The intent of the NPS is clearly to create a private zone for the elitists to play, and they want to keep the ugly masses at bay. Same with the California Coastal Commission. Can’t let people live near the ocean. Those who have, want to keep everyone else from getting something similar.
The goofy thing about the elitists who push “renewables” is they would require huge areas of land for their projects, yet only produce a small fraction of the power we need. To produce 10% of the electric power California consumes, it would require 20,000 windmills offshore from from the Oregon border to Channel Islands, in a band about 8 miles wide. Why? Because there simply is not enough Class 5 wind available onshore. Wind power is DOA. Solar is not much better. Problems with clouds, night, high water consumption, and converting farmland into silicon fields.
In contrast, 24 San Onofre scale power plants could produce 100% of California’s power on 3 square miles of land with a ~95% capacity factor. Power available when we need it.
The New World would never have been populated without some form of gold rush. Building ships and taking huge risks had to have a decent payoff. It still does. 3-He might be part of the answer to make human activity in space pay for itself. Once human establish permanent settlements, the people living there will make decisions to benefit themselves. And well they should. Just like the Colonies spun off from England and Spain, Mars, the Moon, and other places in the solar system will become their own independent nations. Nevertheless, everyone can benefit.
If the US and EU want to retard the advance of Mankind, you can be sure China will do what it wants regardless. We humans need to move forward, and if China does it, then at least someone will. Let’s not be so spectacularly stupid and myopic as overly-educated elitists recommend.
Is it they are stupid, or simply believe we are?

Reply to  Christopher Chantrill
May 18, 2019 8:52 am

“wilderness” means “no humans”

That is all.

Beavers build dams= wilderness
Humans build dams= evil

May 13, 2019 7:44 pm

Fine, let private companies mine the moon if they want. Just do not subsidize it with taxpayer dollars. Economically, mining the moon, even if the surface was littered by diamonds, is too costly. This is just pie in sky crap for NASA to get a bigger budget and for Musk and SpaceX, and now Bezos too, to suck on the taxpayers’ dime selling some imaginary dream.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  JPinBalt
May 14, 2019 10:46 am

At one time the Americas were too far away from Europe to be economically viable as a destination. But that didn’t stop people from going. And eventually it got cheap and relatively easy to make the trip. The same will happen with the moon and space travel. We are just at the beginning; don’t be so shortsighted.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Paul Penrose
May 14, 2019 12:37 pm

Methinks there is a big difference in traveling to far away places within your natural environment and traveling to very far away places where you have to bring your environment with you with hopes nothing goes wrong .

Reply to  Tom in Florida
May 14, 2019 4:58 pm

And Methinks Tom forgot that the Ocean isn’t our natural environment either. And we DID have to bring our environment with us on ocean voyages.

There’s a reason so much of our fiction about space travel and exploration is based on early ocean travel, with ‘ships’ and ‘colonies’ and ‘navies’ and so forth.


Reply to  Tom in Florida
May 18, 2019 8:54 am

Yep. Option two means you can choose what you are. Option one means you only get to be what the environment permits.

Option two requires a very high level of intelligence where option one requires hardly any.

Joel O'Bryan
May 13, 2019 7:44 pm

Save the Lunar Spotted Owl.
Protect the Mares Darter Snail.
Preserve the Planetia Prairie Chicken.

We have a moral obligation to save these endangered species.
We must think of the extinction we will cause and how poorer our children will be not seeing lunar prairie chickens happily plucking their way in full mating plumage across the lunar surface.


Jokes aside.
I do think we will mine the asteroids, and maybe the Moon for lunar water (for fuel). But it won’t be with manned missions. It will be with robotics and AI. The lethal effects of the harsh radiation environment beyond LEO and prolonged weightlessness on our musclo-skeleton physiology are simply too severe for our fragile, pink flesh bodies.
Going robotic eliminates all the costly and heavy life support systems and even minimal radiation shielding for biological life to return to Earth. The economic incentives alone to go fully robotic are too great for a mission design to incorporate humans and all our metabolic needs. Especially true for a many hundred-days missions that beyond the Moon would require to get to the Asteroids and return.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
May 14, 2019 3:36 am

He3 fusion engines change all that . Mars in 3 – 6 weeks with 1g acceleration all the way for those muscles. Bones need not just weight, but the Schumann resonance naturally here in the atmosphere – we will have to generate that on board.
With 1g for weeks we will be relativistic – the solar system looks different then.
Anyway Trump just announce more money for NASA – boots on the regolith are the only game in town.
Lava tubes make ready to use habitats with radiation shielding from the get-go.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  bonbon
May 14, 2019 1:22 pm

When someone invents a working 3He fusion design here on Earth, then it might be 20-30 years to get something like a prototype into space. Right now inventing such a thing isn’t even possible in an Earth lab because the basic confinement technology does not exist for the needed Temp and confinement time to fuse 3He with deuterium.
So it is science fiction at this point such a thing can even be invented. Sort of like FTL and worm-hole travel. Good stories.

Randle Dewees
May 13, 2019 8:01 pm

Screw future generations. Previous generations didn’t care, why should we?

Reply to  Randle Dewees
May 14, 2019 5:47 am

Barry O’Bama said we don’t need all that fancy tech. He even told South Africans if they have air-conditioning the planet would melt.

Wow, the One!

J Mac
May 13, 2019 8:13 pm

Earth First!
We’ll mine the other planets later!
(Uhh, Thank Ya Baby! Thank ya vurry much!)

Jerry Palmer
May 13, 2019 8:47 pm

There’s treasure to be had out there.. and soup!

May 13, 2019 8:50 pm

How’s this for another scarrrry dooomsday scenario:

We bring so much mined material down to Earth from that it changes the moment of inertia and makes the day longer!!! They will have to start working on this one right away… /sarc

Tom Saunders
May 13, 2019 9:07 pm

And people think “Big Bang Theory” was fictionally dumbassademics.
“There is no idea so idiotic that it can’t gain traction in Academia.”

This precisely why Buckley said he’d rather be ruled by the first 2000 names in the Boston phone directory that the faculty of Harvard.

Clyde Spencer
May 13, 2019 9:25 pm

The fact that there are some proposing to place 85% of the solar system off limits to mining is strong evidence that a lot of people don’t know what side of their toast is buttered. Its like the people in their Gortex parkas, with synthetic fur around the hood, wearing athletic shoes made entirely out of synthetics, demanding we give up using fossil fuels.

May 13, 2019 9:25 pm

“We certainly wouldn’t want the Moon to be lit up at night. This would be horrifying…”

Just about fell out of my chair laughing when i read this…. Lol

David Chorley
May 13, 2019 9:49 pm

Ignoring significant figures is dangerous: that’s how the warmists get bill nye riled up about an increase of 0.004% by weight of the atmosphere

Wiliam Haas
May 13, 2019 9:56 pm

Just declare the sun from the surface downward to be a protected wilderness and that is more than 85% of the solar system. I doubt that anyone would be able to find let alone mine minerals on the sun, and transport them to Earth and to make a profit doing so. Hydrogen and Helium are abundant on the sun but right now it is far cheaper to get these minerals from sources on the Earth than from the sun. So far I doubt that anyone has figured out how to transport minerals from another body in the solar to the Earth and make a profit from the sale of those minerals on the Earth. Space transportation is just too expensive. Another star system is just a little more than 4 light years away. Concerning mining on the moon, I doubt that any lunar wildlife would be adversely affected by such an operation.

J Mac
Reply to  Wiliam Haas
May 13, 2019 10:07 pm

The environMental Lunatics are certain to disagree with you! };>)

Kevin Lohse
Reply to  Wiliam Haas
May 13, 2019 10:35 pm

Mining the sun is simple. Wait until it’s dark then mine through the night.

Reply to  Kevin Lohse
May 14, 2019 10:04 am

Kevin – excellent! You might whisper that in AOC’s ear. (She’s one of the dimmest bulbs in the US House of Representatives, in case you’re not American.)

Bruce Clark
May 13, 2019 10:05 pm

Do not upset the “Little Green Men” earthlings.
You have been warned.

May 13, 2019 10:07 pm

Elvis’ salary in 2017 was $173,377

May 13, 2019 10:11 pm

I’m currently writing a paper that proves all the samples of moon soil, minerals and ores brought back to earth over the past half century have reduced its mass by about a kilogram. As a result of the lower gravitational force, this has increased the moon’s orbital distance from earth by about three centimetres. Because the moon has to travel so far to circle the earth, this has added several seconds to how long it takes to orbit.

Supplementary evidence makes clear that the rockets on their capsules ejected CO2 that heated and thus expanded the moon’s atmosphere, making it weigh less and also increasing the orbital distance from earth.

Because each moon orbit now takes longer, it has altered the earth’s oceanic tidal flow and cloud formation, and the earth is now spinning slower because the lower gravity moon is no longer dragging it along as quickly as it used to during its orbit. Thus, there has been an increase in the length of time that solar rays are hitting the planet before the additional heat is trapped by all the CO2 pumped into the atmosphere by humans. This is the cause of global warming in recent decades.

I’ve almost finished writing the paper but am still awaiting a government grant based on the fact that my studies prove Neil Armstrong and his cronies have caused CO2 to destroy the earth.

PS … I also have evidence the Mars rovers caused a redistribution of mass and thus a planetary wobble, affecting the Milankovitch cycle and exposing our earth to longer solar exposure with the heat being trapped by CO2, and I’ve applied for another grant based on that last bit. I’m hoping the grant will be big enough to cover the cost of my brain scans.

May 13, 2019 10:44 pm

Lunar materials are a lot more valuable on the Moon or in space than on Earth.
As for “trash the Moon” – just make the mining look like a new crater. You couldn’t tell the difference if done right.
It has long been a regret of mine that when I look at a crescent moon setting I don’t get to see the lights of settlements, mines, transport ways and other signs of human habitation.
I also want to see the new constellation in the night sky made by the Solar Power Satellites – the Powerline.

Reply to  Mike Borgelt
May 14, 2019 6:33 am

Our regulators in the UK already have a pattern of laws which could be readily applied to resource mining on the moon. It should be okay as long as no fracking is involved which produces tremors of greater than 0.5 magnitude

Walter Sobchak
May 13, 2019 10:49 pm

I am amazed that none of you has brought up The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. In that novel, the Loonies rebel against the Earth and win the war by throwing rocks at the Earth. A rock dropped from a sufficient height is as powerful as an atomic bomb.

Bruce Clark
May 13, 2019 11:57 pm

Earthlings: You have been warned.

Ivor Ward
May 14, 2019 12:12 am

What happens if the Miners from Mars get to the moon first and stake a claim?

Reply to  Ivor Ward
May 14, 2019 1:55 am
Moderately Cross of East Anglia
May 14, 2019 12:50 am

Perhaps we would do better to declare a zone of no stupidity, which would confine all the eco-loons to a small moon orbiting a desert planet in a galaxy far, far away and safely away from the rest of us.
All we have to do is figure out how to transport them there and keep them happy by sending them regular shipments of vegan food, soft cuddly toys, plastic knives and forks and old copies of The Gruaniad.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  David Middleton
May 14, 2019 7:14 am

“The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” the second book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy comedy science fiction “trilogy” by Douglas Adams

“… Arthur and Ford find themselves aboard the Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet Ship B, which they discover was a way for the Golgafrinchans to divest themselves of a useless portion of their population by claiming a planetary disaster is coming. The Ark crashes onto a planet, which Arthur and Ford determine is pre-historic Earth”

Robert of Ottawa
May 14, 2019 3:22 am

The Solar SYstem is OURS, ALL OURS, I tell ya!

Tom in Denver
Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
May 14, 2019 11:02 am

“Except Europa” Arthur C Clark

Tom in Florida
May 14, 2019 4:22 am

But we already have been given the OK for all these worlds except for Europa.

Gary Pearse
May 14, 2019 5:47 am

Won’t removing mass from the moon counteract its motion away from the earth?

May 14, 2019 5:50 am

Virtue signalling costs nothing.

(OK, except your dignity, pride, reason, sense of proportion. But apart from that – nothing!)

May 14, 2019 6:12 am

I’m surprised no one has applied common sense to one critical point. If that much helium is removed from the moon, wouldn’t, it make the moon lighter? 😉

Tom in Florida
Reply to  The
May 14, 2019 12:41 pm

Isn’t helium what is keeping the Moon up in the sky? Removing too much might make it crash into the Earth.

Reply to  The
May 14, 2019 12:53 pm

Wouldn’t removing helium make it heavier?

Tom Schaefer
May 14, 2019 6:16 am

Psyche 16 is the ultimate material gift from God that will allow Gerard K. O’Neill habitat to be constructed for more than a thousand times current human population. It should be the driving motivation for creating a space-fairing civilization. No hipster philosopher will keep my progeny and me from it.

Shoki Kaneda
May 14, 2019 7:07 am

Elvis has left the building.

May 14, 2019 7:18 am

So we screw up the universe . . . God will just make another one and if he doesn’t like what happened, he’ll just leave people out of it this time.

May 14, 2019 7:22 am

I thought Elvis was dead and had left the building?

Reply to  MarkW
May 14, 2019 3:40 pm

Nope. I have it from a 110% reliable sources that he is healty and happy , albeit a little bite bored at times and resides mostly on a big ranch he has on a planet named Bob.

May 14, 2019 7:29 am

What could we mine on the moon?
We could mine the materials that will be needed to build space ships and orbiting stations.

Using magnetic cannons, it would be a lot cheaper to launch payloads into orbit from the moon, even low earth orbits.

Tom Abbott
May 14, 2019 7:48 am

NASA needs to draw up plans for a demonstration Solar Power Satellite (SPS). The Chinese are planning on having one operating in orbti by 2030. NASA needs to get in the SPS race.

All that free-enterprise industry in orbit is going to need power.

We need to fight for freedom in space just like we do here on Earth, otherwise the authoritarians will run the show and will stifle the human break-out from Earth into the greater universe.

Not that there shouldn’t be rules but the rules should not stifle the human development of space unnecessarily. We don’t want authoritarians deciding our space future, which is the future of the human race.

May 14, 2019 7:56 am

Who knew in the 1700s that technology, human specialization, and global trade would result in such mindless digital leisure. I suppose it was inevitable with apes lounging in the jungles.

Tom Abbott
May 14, 2019 8:08 am


“Last week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos finally lifted the veil on the lunar lander his aerospace company has been developing in secret for years, along with a plan to put humans back on the moon to stay.

And in the process, he also revealed an ambitious vision for space colonization.

Building off of a concept introduced decades ago by physicist Gerard O’Neill – who Bezos himself studied under during his time at Princeton, according to Fast Company – the Blue Origin founder outlined self-sustaining habitats that could hold entire cities, agricultural areas, and even national parks in space.

While such a future may still be a ways off, Bezos says it will be an ‘easy choice’ when faced with dwindling resources on Earth.”

end excerpt

I didn’t know that Jeff Bezos had studied under Professor Gerard O’Neill. That’s good news to me, and I see Jeff learned the space habitat lesson he was taught. Good deal ! It always helps to have a multi-billionaire pushing the envelope in the right direction.

May 14, 2019 9:16 am

Any post that ends with Mojo is a fine post indeed. Don’t forget his second song: 619-239-KING. Cheers –


May 14, 2019 10:03 am

So, some incredibly powerful and capable group manages to look authentically like they are prepared to mine parts of the solar-system. They are literally about to start doing it.

And one guy called Elvis tries to tell them “Please don’t do that!”
And they say “Oh, okay! Nevermind, we won’t mine this asteroid…”

Does this sound like a true story?

May 14, 2019 10:15 am

“Ian Sample Science editor Sun 12 May 2019 13.24 EDT
Great swathes of the solar system should be preserved as official “space wilderness” to protect planets, moons and other heavenly bodies from rampant mining and other forms of industrial exploitation,”

Pure delusions.
All based upon an author who is a contemptuous superior absolutely ignorant elitist. A “Science editor” author who utterly fails to comprehend infinity.

Mankind has barely scratched the approximately 25% of Earth’s surface above the ocean.
Ding-a-ling Ian Sample Science editor fails to understand that Earth has lost virtually nothing of resources and continually recycles.
Barely scratched Earth’s dry surface after many thousands of years trying.

So, what does Ian think mankind will do to infinite universe resources that can possibly destroy space’s pure virginal pristineness?

Delusional,utterly delusional.

Hugh Mannity
May 14, 2019 10:17 am

“Working with Tony Milligan, a philosopher at King’s College London, Elvis analysed how soon humans might use up the solar system’s most accessible resources should space mining take off. They found that an annual growth rate of 3.5% would use up an eighth of the solar system’s realistic resources in 400 years. At that point, humanity would have only 60 years to apply the brakes and avoid exhausting the supply completely.”

400 years… The new technologies that will be invented and the new resources that will be discovered in that time will negate any dire consequences that we can imagine today.

After all, we’ve only been using electricity in a major way for the past 200 years.

400 years ago, only a few visionaries (such as Da Vinci who died 500 years ago this year) could have come up with the concepts of cars, steamships, airplanes, or computers as they exist today. And even when they could imagine such things, they had no way of constructing them.

400 years is a very long time.

David Blenkinsop
Reply to  Hugh Mannity
May 17, 2019 9:53 am

As someone who has been a space flight enthusiast for many a year now, I’m just going to put in a couple of quick comments somewhat late in this thread. First I like Hugh Mannity’s comment about 400 years being too far ahead to be worth worrying about — and this is assuming that we are about to start an exponential growth of humans in space, which may not happen anyway?

Second, mining He3 from the lunar surface for energy strikes me as a lousy rationale for going to the moon, partly because it is incredibly dilute, therefore obviously difficult to mine effectively (10’s of parts per billion at the most, apparently). The other thing is that fusion power in any form is still unproven, with significantly better options in the realm of “fission” power right here on earth.

For lunar industry in the near future, maybe use lunar resources to help expand the comsat industry in some way? Start some tourism to the moon, even? There are some real prospects there, nothing to do with sifting through hundreds of millions of dirt scoops to get one scoop of (maybe) fuel!

Tom in Denver
May 14, 2019 11:08 am

“That’s still enough to meet the world’s current energy demands for at least two, and possibly as many as five, centuries, Kulcinski said. He estimated helium-3’s value at about $5 billion a ton, meaning 250,000 tons would be worth in the trillions of dollars.”

Not to pick nits here, but 1 trillion dollars divided by $5 billion per ton= 200,000 tons (not 250,000)

It is math errors like that that got Mars probes to crash rather than land on Mars.

May 14, 2019 1:49 pm

Humans got to the moon in 1902 and made this film about it …


Now that’s science you can see! 🙂

May 14, 2019 3:35 pm

What about mining Titan for methane? If Lando Calrissian can do it, so can we!!! Just sayin’.

What IS it that this fake Elvis person is really afraid of, anyway? That’s the real question.

May 15, 2019 9:39 am

This certainly is not how I see this playing out. The He3 argument is as valid as mining Dilithium crystals. The most abundant mineral resource would probably be Ilmenite, an iron/titanium ore available right here on earth.
No- I think that the primary impetus for building habitation on the Moon will be real estate speculation. At least at first it will be. Nights on the moon are two weeks long, so solar energy is more practical in polar highlands. Conveniently, that is also where the water is.
I am pretty sure that Bezos’ plan is to squat on the good spots and build tourist facilities. Some activities will probably include exploration, where the tourists will find rocks to take home. Prospecting will be carried out by tourists, who may return home and put their rocks up on eBay. They will bring a very good price until the market becomes flooded.
Now, what to do with all of that iron ore…
It does not make sense to haul it back to Earth, but the investment necessary to smelt, refine, and extract will be huge.
I still don’t see a good business model here for the long term, outside of extreme tourism. But who knows.

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