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We Could Have Been Mining Helium-3 on the Moon by Now, and We Still Can, Says Harrison Schmitt

Dec. 6, 2017 (EIRNS)—Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt outlined what the U.S. could have been accomplishing in space by now, if the Johnson Administration had not cut NASA’s budget and cut back production of Saturn V rockets, which decision was then confirmed by the Nixon administration. What that decision meant, New Mexico native Schmitt told the Albuquerque Journal in an interview, is that "we really gave up on deep space exploration." "No question we would have a settlement on the Moon and would seriously have a program going to Mars, if not already there." Journal Senior Editor Kent Wala interviewed Schmitt on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the Dec. 7 launch of the final, Apollo 17 mission, which took Schmitt to the Moon.

Schmitt has been an ardent promoter of a return to the Moon (and wrote a book with that title), and has worked closely with scientists working on fusion using helium-3 fuel. There are many resources in the lunar soil, he said in the interview.

"One of those, helium-3, isn’t readily available on Earth, but it is embedded in lunar soil. It is a nearly ideal fuel for fusion." Although we have not yet exploited this resource, which we have known about for many years, he said, "it’s still there and it’s not going anywhere." He explained that rougly 220 pounds of helium-3 "would provide the power necessary to serve Dallas for a year.... You would have to mine a fair amount of lunar soil to produce 100 kilograms, but it’s certainly possible."

Although Schmitt poses competition from China as an overriding geopolitical rationale for a visionary U.S. space program, he concludes that,

"Settlement off the Earth can be very important philosophically into the future. And it is one way in which the human species can perpetuate itself against the very remote possibility of a very large asteroid impact on the Earth."