40 years after first landing on the Moon, man is preparing to return.
However, this time the astronauts won't just land on the Moon - they
plan to stay.
From his office in Nevada, Dennis Hope has spawned a multi-million
dollar business selling lunar real estate. Buyers include Hollywood
stars, large corporations - like the Hilton and Marriot hotel chains -
and even former US presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. George W
Bush is also said to be a stake holder.
But scientists believe the real prize is trapped in the Moon's rocks. It
contains large deposits of an extremely rare gas called Helium-3. Could
Helium-3 be mined and used as a new source of almost inexhaustible,
clean and pollution-free energy on Earth? Whoever succeeds in
transporting Helium-3 back to Earth could solve the world's energy crisis.
One of the biggest contenders is US space contractor Lockheed Martin,
which is currently developing technologies that will enable future lunar
residents to exploit the lunar surface.
In particular, it is working on a process which will convert Moon dust
into oxygen and water. It may even be able to turn it into rocket fuel.
Russian scientists are working on a similar project and plan to start a
strip-mine operation on the Moon by 2020.
Who will win what has been dubbed the second Moon race? And should we be
exploiting the Moon's valuable resources at all? ?
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