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The Aussie Mission to Mine the Moon

Australian Geographic Media Release | 24 July 2020

The opening spread of the story in AUSTRALIAN GEOGRAPHIC's July-August 2020 edition.
The opening spread of the story in AUSTRALIAN GEOGRAPHIC's July-August 2020 edition.

Australia finds itself involved in the new Space Race, with the establishment of a national space agency, but the game has certainly changed since the Apollo moon landings and subsequent space shuttle programs. In fact, the push now (among other things) is to mine the Moon, starting with ice. It is part of a new out-of-this-world gold rush.

In the latest issue of AUSTRALIAN GEOGRAPHIC, leading science journalist Wilson da Silva details how Australians are helping NASA mine the Moon, and how Australia will be a key player not only in the space agency’s return to the Moon, but its planned missions to Mars, to establish colonies and capitalise on the resources to be found. So is it science or commerce?

Australia is late to the game, but many would be surprised to know that our own space industry already employs almost 10,000 people and is worth $3.9 billion. Globally the space industry will soon be worth US$558 billion and is being driven by the falling cost of launches, as well as a burgeoning demand for broadband, navigation services, satellite observation and even tourism.

Unlike the Space Race of the 50s and 60s, this new version involves alliances of various national agencies, as well as a range of private companies. And yet, there is also something familiar from two superpowers. NASA wants to start building a sustainable base on the Moon, while China is looking to land a mini-mining facility there. The race is on.

The full report appears in AUSTRALIAN GEOGRAPHIC's July-August 2020 edition.


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