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India’s space dream – to develop nuclear fuel from helium on the moon

India’s quest to find a trillion-dollar zero-waste nuclear fuel on the moon,  Financial Review by Anurag Kotoky, 28 June 18

India‘s space program wants to go where no nation has gone before – to the south side of the moon. And once it gets there, it will study the potential for mining a source of waste-free nuclear energy that could be worth trillions of dollars.

The nation’s equivalent of NASA will launch a rover in October to explore virgin territory on the lunar surface and analyse crust samples for signs of water and helium-3. That isotope is limited on Earth yet so abundant on the moon that it theoretically could meet global energy demands for 250 years if harnessed……..

The mission would solidify India’s place among the fleet of explorers racing to the moon, Mars and beyond for scientific, commercial or military gains. The governments of the US, China, India, Japan and Russia are competing with start-ups and billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson to launch satellites, robotic landers, astronauts and tourists into the cosmos. ……..

In the US, President Donald Trump signed a directive calling for astronauts to return to the moon, and NASA’s proposed $US19 billion ($26 billion) budget this fiscal year calls for launching a lunar orbiter by the early 2020s. …….

A primary objective, though, is to search for deposits of helium-3. Solar winds have bombarded the moon with immense quantities of helium-3 because it’s not protected by a magnetic field like Earth is. ……. “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 numerous obstacles to overcome before the material can be used – including the logistics of collection and delivery back to Earth and building fusion power plants to convert the material into energy. Those costs would be stratospheric…….https://www.afr.com/news/world/asia/indias-quest-to-find-a-trilliondollar-zerowaste-nuclear-fuel-on-the-moon-20180627-h11ykr

 

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June 29, 2018 - Posted by | India, technology

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