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Mining Helium-3 on the Moon One of many problems associated with using helium-3 to create energy via nuclear fusion is that, at least on the Earth, helium-3 is very, very rare indeed. Helium-3 is produced as a by-product of the maintenance of nuclear weapons, which could net a supply of around 15Kg a year. Helium-3 is, however, emitted by the Sun within its solar winds. Our atmosphere prevents any of this helium-3 arriving on the Earth. However, as it does not have an atmosphere, there is nothing to stop helium-3 arriving on the surface of the Moon and being absorbed by the lunar soil. As a result, it has been estimated that there are around 1,100,000 metric tonnes of helium-3 on the surface of the Moon down to a depth of a few metres. This helium-3 could potentially be extracted by heating the lunar dust to around 600 degrees C, before bringing it back to the Earth to fuel a new generation of nuclear fusion power plants. As reported in an Artemis Project paper, about 25 tonnes of helium-3 -- or a fully-loaded Space Shuttle cargo bay's worth -- could power the United States for a year. This means that helium-3 has a potential economic value in the order of $3bn a tonne -- making it the only thing remotely economically viable to consider mining from the Moon given current and likely-near-future space travel technologies and capabilities. Due to the above it is perhaps hardly surprising that a serious interest is being taken in lunar helium-3. In 2006 Nikolai Sevastyanov, head of the Russian space corporation Energia, was reported to have said that Russia is planning to mine lunar helium-3, with a permanent Moon base to be established by 2015 and industrial-scale helium-3 production to commence by 2020. The Americans also have plans, with NASA having announced its intention to establish a permanent base on one of the Moon's poles by 2024, and with helium-3 signalled as one of the reasons behind this mission. As reported by China View, China is also in the race, and plans to put a man Moon by 2017. One of the goals of the mission will be to measure the thickness of the lunar soil and the amount of helium-3 on the Moon. There have also been reports that India, Japan and Germany are taking an interest in lunar exploration linked to helium-3 as a potential future nuclear fuel.
However, if there is a mass abundance of any kind of resource on celestial bodies, wouldn't that saturate the market? Someone might have control of things at first, but when all nations can do the same it would make, say precious metals for example, almost worthless if mass amounts were mined.