In the not too distant future, Naveen Jain, CEO of Moon Express, expects to launch the world’s first private commercial initiative to unlock the vast hidden resources on the moon—resources spanning magnesium to platinum to titanium to helium-3—and ultimately develop a space colony there to support mining operations, particularly for helium-3.
What’s so special about helium-3?
Today, nuclear power plants rely upon a nuclear reaction—fission—to produce heat, which turns water into steam, which in turn drives a turbine to produce electricity. The downside to this process is a byproduct called radioactive waste. In nuclear fusion, on the other hand, hydrogen isotopes are used—the same energy source that fuels the sun. And it is not radioactive: in fusion, there are no neutrons generated as a reaction product, and consequently, it produces no nuclear waste.
Not only is fusion clean, it is astoundingly efficient. “Imagine,” Jain says, “replacing a coal train more than a kilometer long, loaded with 5,000 tons of coal, with just 40 grams of helium-3. Just 25 tons of helium-3 could power the United States and Europe combined for a year! And with more than a million tons of the stuff on the moon, we could keep up this pace for 40,000 years. Energy problem solved.” But we’ve got to go to the moon to get it.
Thank Earth’s magnetic field for helium-3’s scarcity. Helium-3 is emitted by the sun and scattered throughout our solar system by the solar winds. That wind, however, is repelled by the Earth’s magnetic field; only a tiny amount of He-3 makes it through our atmosphere in the form of cosmic dust. The moon, however, has a weak magnetic field and no atmosphere. That makes it a fertile receptor of everything the solar wind blows its way, hence the massive deposits of helium-3. All that remains is mining it and transporting it to Earth.
The good news is that the mining technology and knowhow already exists, and of course, robotic machines would perform the work. The processes involved in separating helium-3 from its ore are equally straightforward, and easily and economically accomplished. In fact, one analyst suggested that the total investment would be comparable to building a major transcontinental pipeline—but one with a vastly more productive payback. And we’d get a permanent lunar base in the bargain—a base that could serve every need from resupply to launches to training to unimagined potentials for scientific discovery.
What’s more, the moon has massive amounts of water locked up in ice that cannot only be used in the production of rocket fuel (water being composed of hydrogen and oxygen—rocket fuel’s essential ingredients), but provide crucial life support. Just like the bits that fuel the Internet economy, water is the oil for the space economy.
Jain adds, “I am thrilled that our children are getting to experience the same excitement that we witnessed in the 1960s with the Apollo program. There was a tremendous spirit of optimism and great excitement around the planting of the American flag on the surface of the moon. But this shouldn’t be just an American dream. I would love to see the American dream become a global dream.”
To this end, Jain—who views the moon as Earth’s 8th continent—observes that entrepreneurs don’t have boundaries. “Entrepreneurs work with everyone who believes in them, who believes in the cause,” he says. “Moon Express is funded by entrepreneurs from all over the world—entrepreneurs from China, Russia, India, Germany, France. We all believe that this is possible and we all came together to make it happen. Capital is not patriotic. Capital goes where the opportunities are. Boundaries are created by politicians for their own purposes. Entrepreneurs don’t create boundaries; they expand them far beyond any visible horizon on Earth or beyond.”
About Moonshots—the Book
To learn more about Jain’s vision, check out his new book, Moonshots—Creating a World of Abundance. Jain is leading disruptions today that will reshape the world—and beyond. From redefining civilian space exploration to creating a path to free energy to reinventing healthcare and education, Jain is at the forefront of the exponential technology developments that will forever change how we live and work. In Moonshots, Jain reveals the secrets of the “super entrepreneur” mindset—the catalyst for creating an exciting and abundant future. He then walks readers through the application of these powerful concepts in three moonshot initiatives that he is leading today—one of which is Moon Express, a private lunar venture that promises to open up the moon’s vast resources for the betterment of humanity, while another, Viome, is working to eradicate chronic disease at its very source. In Jain’s world, the term “moonshot” is meant both literally and figuratively! Journey with Jain through these illuminating pages and awaken your own moonshot potential. It’s a discovery that will change your life—and quite possibly the world.