An article claims that Bush’s Moon initiative may be motivated by the lunar presence of Helium-3, a better source of fuel for nuclear reactors that just happens to be abundant on the Moon but virtually absent on Earth. The article proposes that whomever has space supremacy controls the near-earth Helium-3 supply and therefore has future energy supremacy as we move towards increasing reliance on nuclear power. Helium-3 could also be used to make weapons perhaps. Could this be what it’s all about? There aren’t a lot of other benefits for going to the Moon — other than perhaps using it as a launchpad for future missions to Mars.Social tagging: New Energy Sources > Space > The Future > Travel
I have doubts about linking Bush and Helium-3.
Basically Helium-3 is a fusion power source that doesn’t create an excess of neutrons when fused (with the much more common lithium.) Other potential fusion power sources generate neutrons, which leak into the containment and enter into other atoms potentially causing them to become radioactive.
Thus Helium-3 is a much “cleaner” reaction, as you don’t have to worry as much about disposal of radioactive wastes (most people don’t know that fusion is not ‘clean’) or about such things as your containment becoming brittle as it is slowly transformed into other elements.
Theoretically Helium-3 is ideally suited for space travel, as you don’t have to have as much shielding between the fusion reactor and passengers. That is why forward-thinking NASA scientists are interested in it.
We are still a long way from a practical Helium-3 fusion reactors, and more easily obtained fusion reactions will have to be developed first, so I doubt that there is any serious interest by Bush in Helium-3. By the time we’ve got Helium-3 all figured out, we can always mine it from Jupiter.