China goes to the Moon for Helium 3 by 2024
- 19 Jun 06, 07:04 PM
China's moon project leader Long Lehao told reporters that the PRC will put a man on the moon by 2024, with an unmanned lunar probe set to launch next year. Unlike the USA in the 1960s, the Chinese are not going moonside just to wind up conspiracy theorists and inspire rock bands: there is a serious economic purpose: Helium-3...
There is supposed to be a lot of the element Helium-3 on the Moon. I don't know if it makes your voice go higher if you breathe it in, but it does - theoretically - drive a nuclear fusion reaction, when combined with deuterium at high temperatures.
According to its supporters, it is 3x more efficient than today's nuclear power generation. Also it gives off less waste and radiation.
One visionary website has calculated that 4x space shuttle loads of 3He a year could meet the earth's energy supply for 10,000 years. The Russians are already thinking aloud about joining the "3He-rush".
The element could also prove popular because it is great for cryogenic freezing, being able to zap the cadaver of rich people's dead pets to the required temperature for future resurrection in seconds.
So at last an economic/military development that links the humdrum world of today (70 dollar oil, Iraq war, new nuclear rebuild debate) with the fantasy world of Eve Online and Sid Meier's Civilisation IV. I am only sorry I will not be around to report on the spot market, the labour standards, play Shufflepuck with the inevitable misfits who will inhabit the sleazy districts of the lunar mining region and boldly go, embedded with the Galactic Marines as it all inevitably turns nasty.
In the meantime, tune in to Newsnight's impromptu series of China reports this week, starting tomorrow at 2230 GMT on BBC TWO.