Harrison H. Schmitt
Lunar helium-3 uniquely permits the integration of energy, environmental, and space policy in the Third Millennium. As a gradual substitute for fossil fuels, helium-3 based fusion power provides an environmentally acceptable source of the new electrical energy needed to support the 10 billion Earth inhabitants expected before the end of the twenty-first century and to avoid imprudent additions of carbon dioxide to the Earth's atmosphere. Further, lunar hydrogen, oxygen, and derived water, as by-products from the production of helium-3, provide the consumables needed to initiate the settlement of Mars.
Helium-3 fusion forms the bridge between missions to preserve planet Earth, to utilize lunar resources for all humankind, and to lead the next great lunar adventure--the settlement of Mars. Further, the economic potential for lunar helium-3 production appears significant with an energy equivalent value relative to coal of about $2 billion per metric tonne delivered to Earth.
Helium-3 fusion represents an opportunity for the initiation of major new commercial endeavors as well as new international cooperative ventures. Indeed, strong evidence exists that if the United States hesitates, others will proceed, and we will be left with the same choice we have today--import more energy or burn more fossil fuel.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91002©1990 AAPG Rocky Mountain Section Meeting, Denver, Colorado, September 16-19, 1990