Wednesday, February 15, 2012

NASA still studies advantage of lunar resources

Complex low-energy transfer orbit utilized to move outermost two of five original THEMIS mission spacecraft into lunar orbit, where they became the second and third of five spacecraft the U.S. currently has in orbit around the Moon. In turn, ARTEMIS L1 and L2 became the first spacecraft to orbit Lagrange Points 1 and 2 (L1 and L2). Among many pathways to deep space under study a semi-permanent manned station in orbit around L2 while simultaneously utilizing lunar materials to manufacture and fuel spacecraft and life support, offers what may prove to be a less expensive avenue into deep space.  [NASA/ARTEMIS].
Brian Palmer
Special to The Washington Post
Bangor Daily News

Remember gazing up at the moon and wondering what it’s made of? Some pretty smart people are doing the same thing today. And it’s not childlike curiosity that’s motivating them: It’s money.

Interest in materials known as rare earth elements surged when China temporarily blocked exports in 2010. Manufacturers started looking everywhere for new supplies of gadolinium and terbium and other elements used in televisions, hybrid car batteries and many other products.

The search took them to such places as California, the Pacific ocean floor and the moon. The moon’s stock is up even among politicians, as Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney recently sparred over whether it makes sense to invest in lunar mining.

Read the full article HERE.

A Youtube video describes the complex orbits the two ARTEMIS spacecraft utilized to attain lunar orbit in 2011.

1 comment:

Hop David said...

Not only are L1 and L2 closer to deep space destinations like Mars, but they are also close (in terms of delta V) to the economically important Low Earth Orbits and Geosynchronous Earth Orbits. And the potential rocket fuel at the lunar poles is quite close to L1 and L2.

The ability to export rocket fuel to depots in these orbits could make travel about our earth moon neighborhood routine. In my view this would be even more economically valuable than lunar rare earth metals.