Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced its Chandrayaan-2 mission, which will have the space agency send a rover to the south-side of the moon later this year. It will be India’s second lunar mission and the first time any country has visited that region of the lunar surface.
The isotope of Helium, which is abundant on the moon, could theoretically meet global energy demands for three to five centuries.
This kind of energy is also expected to be worth trillions of dollars (one expert estimated Helium-3’s value at about five billion US dollars a ton).
There are approximately 1 million metric tons of Helium-3 embedded in the moon, although only about a quarter of that can realistically could be brought to Earth.
Since the isotope is not radioactive, it could be used in fusion reactors for nuclear energy without dangerous nuclear by-products.
Even if ISRO finds helium-3 on the moon, there are obstacles that need to be addressed before it can be utilized. The space agency will have to figure out how it will mine and bring back the isotope to Earth. Building fusion power plants to convert this resource into energy is another issue that has to be looked at. Additionally, there is no international treaty on commercial entities allowed to keep what they have mined from space, said the report. Only the US and Luxembourg have passed legislation to this effect.
He-3 fusion is untested technology. Considering prevailing commitments like the Paris Agreement, it would simply be foolish for India to attempt stewarding a nuclear fusion programme involving heavier isotopes when a prototype hydrogen fusion experiment (ITER) itself has sucked in over Rs 96,550 crore (about 9% of which India contributes) while another billion-dollar facility in the US has been struggling to kickstart fusion chain reactions for over four years now.
Chandrayaan-2 includes soft-landing on Moon and moving a rover on its surface. It is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission. It consists of an orbiter, lander and rover configuration.
The Orbiter spacecraft when launched from Sriharikota will travel to the Moon and release the Lander, which will, in turn, deploy a tiny Rover to roam the lunar surface — all three sending data and pictures to Earth.
It is planned to be launched as a composite stack into the earth parking orbit (EPO) of 170 X 18,500 km by GSLV-Mk II.