As we’ve mentioned before, the South African Space Resources Association (SASRA) is a body dedicated to bringing South African mining and engineering experience into the field of space resource utilisation. If humankind is ever to leave the cradle, we must learn to gather resources from the moon, asteroids, and planets. South Africa probably has more expertise and experience in mining under extreme conditions than any other country in the world, so we have a lot to offer.
There are increasing signs that industry is beginning to take this seriously. Most recently, Mining Weekly interviewed SASRA president Michael Neale in their most recent edition. From the interview:
Neale points to a number of initiatives, both commercial and governmental, that promote interest in, and the development of, capabilities to sustainably stay on the moon.
“Most people think that mining on the moon is unfeasible, or that it will not happen in their lifetimes. But, if we consider the short time in which people landed, walked and drove on the moon after the initial announcement of the Apollo series of lunar missions, then space mining and exploration of our solar system can happen in our lifetimes,” he explains, adding that this presents both scientific and commercial challenges and oppor- tunities to countries and companies.
Commercial lunar mining business Shackleton Energy Company, for example, plans to take water from the moon to the International Space Station (ISS) and to refuel earth orbiting satellites before the end of the decade, while global search engine and cloud computing company Google will give $30-million to the first team to land, traverse 500 m and send pictures from the moon by 2015, explains Neale.
“This is very exciting for me because these are private, commercial companies supporting these initiatives, which means that they believe in the concept and long- term prospects. Further, Nasa will soon be relying on commercial companies such as space exploration technologies company SpaceX to resupply the ISS.”