Skip to Main Content
Book Chapter

Nuclear Power and Associated Environmental Issues in the Transition of Exploration and Mining on Earth to the Development of Off-world Natural Resources in the 21st Century

By
Michael D. Campbell
Michael D. Campbell
I2M Associates LLC, 1810 Elmen St., Houston, Texas, 77019, U.S.A. (e-mail: mdc@I2MAssociates.com)
Search for other works by this author on:
Jeffrey D. King
Jeffrey D. King
I2M Associates LLC, 515 Lake St., South Kirkland, Washington, 98033, U.S.A.(e-mail: jdk@I2MAssociates.com)
Search for other works by this author on:
Henry M. Wise
Henry M. Wise
Eagle Construction & Environmental Services, L. P., La Porte, 915 Longview Dr., Sugar Land, Texas, U.S.A. (e-mail: hmwise@yahoo.com)
Search for other works by this author on:
Bruce Handley
Bruce Handley
Consultant, 1518 Bradney Dr., Houston, Texas, 77077, U.S.A. (e-mail: bhandley2@comcast.net)
Search for other works by this author on:
James L. Conca
James L. Conca
RJ Lee Group, 2710 N. 20th Ave., Pasco, Washington, 99301, U.S.A. (e-mail: jconca@rjlg.com)
Search for other works by this author on:
M. David Campbell
M. David Campbell
I2M Associates LLC, 1995 Fairlee Dr., San Diego, California, U.S.A. (e-mail: dc@I2MAssociates.com)
Search for other works by this author on:
Published:
January 01, 2013

Abstract

Once humans landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969, the goal of space exploration envisioned by United States President John F. Kennedy in 1961 was already being realized. Achievement of this goal depended on the development of technologies to turn his vision into reality. 0ne technology that was critical to the success of this goal was the harnessing of nuclear power to run these new systems. Nuclear systems provide power for satellite and deep space exploratory missions. In the future, they will provide propulsion for spacecraft and drive planet-based power systems. The maturation of technologies that underlie these systems ran parallel to an evolving rationale regarding the need to explore our own solar system and beyond. Since the Space Race, forward-looking analysis of our situation on Earth reveals that space exploration will one day provide natural resources that will enable further exploration and will provide new sources for our dwindling resources and offset their increasing prices or scarcity on Earth. Mining is anticipated on the Moon for increasingly valuable commodities, such as thorium (Th) and samarium (Sm), and on selected asteroids or other moons as a demonstration of technology at scales never before imagined. In addition, the discovery of helium-3 on the Moon may provide an abundant power source on the Moon and on Earth through nuclear fusion technologies. However, until the physics of fusion is solved, that resource will remain on the shelf and may even be stockpiled on the Moon until needed. It is clear that nuclear power will provide the means necessary to realize these goals while advances in other areas will provide enhanced environmental safeguards in using nuclear power in innovative ways, such as a space elevator or by a ramjet space plane to deliver materials to and from the Earth’s surface and personnel and equipment into space and a space gravity tractor to nudge errant asteroids and other bodies out of collision orbits. Nuclear systems will enable humankind to expand beyond the boundaries of Earth, provide new frontiers for exploration, ensure our protection, and renew critical natural resources while advancing spin-off technology on Earth. During the past ten years, China, Japan, India, and other countries have mounted serious missions to explore the Moon and elsewhere. Recent exploration discoveries by Japan on the Moon may mark the beginning of a new race to the Moon and into space to explore for and develop natural resources, including water (from dark craters to make hydrogen for fuel and oxygen, etc.), nuclear minerals (uranium, thorium, and helium-3), rare-earth minerals, and other industrial commodities needed for use in space and on Earth in the decades ahead.

You do not currently have access to this article.
Don't already have an account? Register

Figures & Tables

Contents

AAPG Memoir

Energy Resources for Human Settlement in the Solar System and Earth’s Future in Space

William A. Ambrose
William A. Ambrose
Search for other works by this author on:
James F. Reilly, II
James F. Reilly, II
Search for other works by this author on:
Douglas C. Peters
Douglas C. Peters
Search for other works by this author on:
American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Volume
101
ISBN electronic:
9781629810027
Publication date:
January 01, 2013

GeoRef

References

Related

A comprehensive resource of eBooks for researchers in the Earth Sciences

This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

This PDF is available to Subscribers Only

View Article Abstract & Purchase Options

For full access to this pdf, sign in to an existing account, or purchase an annual subscription.

Subscribe Now