FSpaceRPG article

Status: Official

The idea of mining the moon isn’t a new idea, and was speculated about during the 20th century.

In the second decade of the 21st century, the first Australian off-Earth mining conference was held by a mix of local and international researchers. They discussed both the the logistical and economic challenges of such an undertaking. Many Australian universities were involved and they looked at the advances in robotics and how to seek realistic investment.

At this time companies around the world were being formed to kickstart the funding process for commercial space exploration, transport and even mining ventures.

Of particular interest at the time were rare earth metals such as Yttrium, Lanthanum and Samarium which were critical in the production of high technology products used for both civilian and military purposes. Greater sources of them were required than could be extracted economically on Earth. Offworld and in particular the Moon and near-Earth asteroids were considered the best options with technology of the day.

NASA had re-prioritised its manned programme towards development of an asteroid mission, rather than a return to the Moon. This work, along with the continual presence of the Russian space programme and the International Space Station led to the successful Eomer asteroid mission, its eventual redirection into Earth orbit and the short conflict that arose as a result of mining rights.

Australian centric interests in space mining had a minor part to play with the technology used in the Eomer mission, but their focus soon in the coming decades switched towards lunar missions.

Water was considered to be a high priority for asteroid and lunar missions because of its use for life support and propellant, but the main hard mining interests on Earth looked towards the Moon as a means to continue their lucrative business in a way more conducive to known technologies. Australian interests partnered with both Russian and American NASA interests to pioneer work on automated regolith harvesters and sealed mine shaft style mining operations to follow up the prospecting operations funding by many of the startups forming.

The seeds of what was to become Selene Mining had been formed, and its formation and the partnerships it formed with larger space faring nations was critical in helping nations partnered in the Selene enterprises become space faring nations in their own right.

Lunar mining plays an important part in the extraction of materials needed for spacecraft and starship construction, because the same rare earth elements used in electronics in the early 21st century were used in the later part of the century onwards for the likes of advanced engine ceramics and plasma containment screens.

The reason that most ship yards are found in earth or lunar orbit or the associated Lagrange points is because of the huge wealth of lunar minerals, as well as the convenience of herded near earth asteroids.

No where in the solar system does the right combination exist to cause such a big economic hub. Mars comes close, but not to the same degree and its shipyards have had a significantly different focus of use and resource model. Mining at Mercury and elsewhere in the Asteroid belt can be quite productive, but they are a considerably distance from large stable workforces able to built spacecraft, habitats, machinery and other goods, so the cost and transport issues around raw materials make them have less impact on the key space industrial plants and colonies than that of the Moon.

It is expected over time as the space born population increases and humans living in space habitats and colonies increases, more localised industry will form and the Lunar centric industrial complex may get economic rivals. This is where a dominant player like Selene Mining has made claims throughout the solar system, partnered with industrialists, etc to ensure it has a good spread of opportunities and risks. On balance however the Moon is their central crown and it was the building block on which the firm was founded from a series of space prospecting startup firms and the solid financial clout of savvy Earth based mining consortiums backed by government investment.

Categories: The Solar System

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