Following the discovery of a new material on the moon that has the potential to be used as a limitless source of clean energy in the future, China has plans to send three unmanned missions to the moon.
It was revealed last Saturday that Beijing’s National Space Administration has been given permission to send three orbiters to the moon over the next ten years. This development comes as the space race between China and the United States is picking up speed. Bloomberg was the first media outlet to report the news.
According to a Chinese state-controlled newspaper called the Global Times, it comes a day after China became the third nation to find a new lunar mineral, which it named Changesite-(Y).
The sample was defined by the Global Times as a “phosphate mineral in columnar crystal” discovered in lunar rock particles after it was returned from the moon by China’s Chang’e-5 mission in 2020. Helium-3, which is present in the mineral, has the potential to be used in the production of energy in the future.
After the United States’ Artemis I moon mission was delayed for a second time, the finding may put further pressure on the country to increase the intensity of its operations.
Mining on the moon might become the next cause of conflict between the nations, since NASA is already doing research on the moon’s south pole, which is also the location where China and Russia want to construct a research station together.
2 weeks ago we reported on this in an article titled “The Us And China Reportedly Want The Same Moon Landing Sites: “This Could Be The First Potential Point of Conflict Over Resources Beyond Earth,” which you can read here.
According to Insider, lately, China has stepped up its attempts to compete with NASA in the field of space exploration by constructing a space station, initiating a number of missions to gather samples from the moon, and deploying a rover with the name Zhurong on Mars earlier this year.
According to the information provided on the NASA website, the United States of America is the only nation to have successfully landed humans on the moon. The Apollo 17 mission occurred approximately half a century ago.
In July of 1969, the United States Apollo 11 mission was the first to send samples from the moon back to Earth. This mission brought back about 49 pounds (22 kilograms) of material from the surface of the moon.
The Chinese Atomic Energy Authority validated the discovery of helium-3 contained inside the crystal, as reported by Chinese official media. On Earth, this particular isotope of helium is very uncommon, but researchers (as well as writers of science fiction) have long theorized that it may be found in substantial quantities on the moon.
According to Extreme Tech, when subjected to the fusion process, helium-3 generates a lower number of radioactive byproducts in comparison to the other forms of the element. Because of this, it is a promising candidate for use as a fuel source for fusion power production, which is a still-conceptual method of producing energy in the same manner as stars do. The technology necessary to maintain fusion on Earth does not yet exist, but having access to helium-3 might be a step in the right direction.
Welcome to the space race 2.0, folks.
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