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Nicholas Newman
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Fuel for thought – catch a falling star

Oxford, United Kingdom Science & Environment February 21 @ 10:31am

Could space based water be the answer to space craft fuel problems? At present, every ounce of fuel needed to operate a spacecraft has to be lifted up from the earth. This is a very costly exercise. Now the space industry is looking for new sources of fuel in outer space. Around our solar system, there are millions of objects containing ice that contains the vital feedstocks hydrogen and oxygen that can be turned into rocket fuel. Space innovators are suggesting ice could be mined from the permanently shadowed craters of the Moon’s southern polar region could provide fuel to spacecraft in earth orbit at least 20 times cheaper than bringing up by rocket from the surface of the earth. This is because the Moon’s gravity is one sixth that of the earth. Once such technology is established this could launch a trillion dollar industry in providing fuel for space exploration, space mining and water as shielding for space laboratories against radiation.

This feature would look at the legal, economic and technical challenges of realising this prospect, as well as examine the potential impact this new pioneering energy technology could have on future space missions.
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