How to exploit lunar resources?

What economic purposes could the moon be put to? The only activity that readily occurs would be mining various metals or minerals – I’m not even sure which elements are present on the moon nor in what abundance they might be found. Presumably any materials found on the moon are much more easily obtained and processed here on Earth to make mining on the moon an economically viable activity.

He-3 is about the only material that would be even remotely economical to mine, and even that is huge stretch.

I suspect tourism to the Apollo 11 site is probably the only foreseeable future economically feasible opportunity on the moon.

Here is Neil’s first step…or would have been if the ascent stage rocket had not erased it. This is where Neil growled “oh come on” when he got annoyed at Buzz.

I can’t remember the name of it, but there was a movie about the moon where they harvested He-3 from the moon and it took place entirely on the moon.

Not the OP’s question, but I’ll just note that there are a bunch of asteroids in orbit around the Earth. Since they have no effective gravity well and have an abundance of the heavy elements (compared to Earth’s crust).


I think it was called “The Bus that Couldn’t Slow Down”.

On a more serious note, there are no materials on the moon that would justify the astronomical cost of recovering those materials. The moon could be strewn with diamonds and gold and it still wouldn’t make any economic sense.

The only time that lunar materials would be worth recovering is if you’re trying to build something on the moon. Then it would make sense to use lunar materials, since that would mean you wouldn’t have to pay the astronomical cost of hauling those materials from Earth.

One suggestion I’ve heard is to use the moon as a base for further exploration. So if, for example, you want to go to Mars, you assemble the ship on the moon and take off from there. The gravity well is much less deep than a mission that starts from earth. A related idea is to mine materials from the moon to use to build space colonies,

Giant space billboard.

Probably not exactly what you have in mind, but there is tidal power generation.

Various dirty industries. No, not the porn industry. (Although you probably could get into some interesting positions with the reduced gravity.) I’m talking about industries that produce a lot of toxic waste. Disposing of that waste is a major problem here on Earth. But on the moon? Just dump it out back. There’s no environment to worry about.

Yes, but then you’ve got to ship whatever products you produced back to Earth and sell them at a profit.

How are you going to do that inexpensively enough to justify a fricken Moon Base?


That was Moon.

Or perhaps it was Whoosh.

Once they build the Space Elevator travel to the Moon will be very cheap.

The location’s just a glorified extra.

You could use the approach described in Robert Heinlein’s novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress; drop them. Perhaps in a more controlled manner than in the novel.

To generate toxic waste, you need raw materials, often carbon-based. Most of that stuff would need to be rocketed up from Earth.

Even more once they get the Earth/Moon wormhole open.

Hey, in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, they were dropping their rocks in a very controlled manner!