The European Space Agency (ESA) has taken the first steps in signing a contract with Europe’s largest launch provider ArianeGroup, a partnership between Airbus and French arms manufacturer Safran, to study the feasibility of mining on the moon, according to Popular Mechanics.
The mission would launch by 2025 to study mining lunar regolith. The regolith contains oxygen and water and helium-3, a potential future energy source. The ESA’s website says that helium-3 “could provide safer nuclear energy in a fusion reactor, since it is not radioactive and would not produce dangerous waste products.”
If the mission is found to be feasible, a funding proposal and plan will be presented to the member states of the ESA for approval. The lander would be a prototype for future lunar mining facilities.
There are an estimated one million tons of helium-3 in the moon, if only 25% of that could be brought to Earth as many experts predict, it would be enough to meet the world’s current energy demands for more than 200 years.