Gareth Dorrian, a post-doctoral research fellow in space science at the University of Birmingham in England weighs in on recent comments by US President Donald J. Trump that have resulted in a so-called “Lunar Gold Rush” to return to the Moon in order to claim Lunar land and exploit its abundant resources:
Whether he succeeds or not, the first successful landing on the lunar far side by China, the European Space Agency’s recent ‘Lunar Village’ concept and myriad private companies all gearing up for commercial human spaceflight indicate that a human return to the Moon may be about to begin in earnest.
But is it a good idea? Dorrian notes:
The potential for resource and scientific exploitation on the Moon is high. However, resources are not uniformly distributed. For example, water is going to be a much-valued commodity, given that it can be used for growing crops, to produce rocket fuel, provide air for breathing and, of course, be consumed directly by people.
Lunar water is believed to exist as ice mixed in with lunar regolith (soil) primarily in permanently shadowed craters in the polar regions, making it a finite and non-renewable resource. Certain areas of the moon are also particularly rich in titanium — again valuable ores are not present in the same quantities everywhere.
In a statement, the International Lunar Land Registry would not confirm whether President Trump or any members of his family or the Trump Organization had purchased land claims on the Moon.