When the researchers claimed that they were confident that water ice exists on the surface of the Moon due to a definitive evidence they have, Moon-mining enthusiasts were particularly gleeful this week. The natural satellite has got more water ice than we ever thought of and we know where we can find a lot of it. And this may make it an easier job to mine water in the future.
Before the discovery, many researchers have been attempting to find any water that may be found on the lunar surface. It will certainly prove to be resourceful that could be valuable for a future long-term mission on the Moon due to the fact that water is a very basic and essential part of life here on Earth. It may help us if we recycle it in a lunar habitat and use it for drinking water or bathing. It could also be utilized to grow plants on the Moon crust which may, in turn, help us to survive on the barren lands of the Moon.
But the bigger challenge and urgent to seems to produce rocket propellant from the lunar water. As we know the basic chemistry of water is formed of Hydrogen and oxygen and both are the biggest materials that are utilized to power rockets as of now. And the idea to produce the fuel with water as rocket propellent will, in turn, cut down costs for conducting ambitious missions in space. As of now, rockets carry all of the propellents they need for space mission from Earth. But if the lunar ice utilized, rockets could help potentially refuel once they are there in space and let us conduct research on far off locations with that at less cost.
“The idea would be to get a sort of supply chain started outside of Earth for certain products — in particular, for water as a propellant — so that it could be much easier to navigate to space from one body to another,” said Colorado School of Mines Julie Brisset, a research associate at the Florida Space Institute.
Taking anything along with us to the space is very expensive. For a satellite to become free from Earth’s gravity, you will require a lot of propellants to fuel the rocket to the orbit. Actually, most of the rocket’s weight is due to propellant itself which is needed to take the thing into space. And the further you want to go, the more propellant you will require. Energy is the main factor that helps us drive away from Earth and this can be generated only through propellant. So, the cost of propellant plays an important role in deciding how further into space we can go.
But what will be the case if you get the same propellant at some other place outside the Earth’s sphere? Yes, that’s it! Its same like you carrying gas along all the route where you don’t find any filling station in one case and in another case, you get to refill your tank and does not need to carry weight at all…..that’s the difference….then, will not it be cost effective…. Of course! Yes!. “Just imagine if you had to drive out to Denver and there were no gas stations along the way and you had to bring all your gas with you from New York,” said George Sowers, a professor at the Colorado School of Mines and former vice president at the United Launch Alliance. “You probably couldn’t do it in your car. You would have to tow all the fuel you need.” This is the main reason why we need to do lunar mining. What we can find on the Moon itself and then processed to make fuel and transported to a propellant depot anywhere near the Moon or in low Earth orbit. As a result, rockets would not require to be so big to carry all their propellant. The can simply stop and get a refill in space.
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