Rolls-Royce is planning for Moon/Mars mining by developing a nuclear power reactor that will be capable of powering mining operations on the surface of the Moon and Mars. Rolls-Royce emphasized that there is a huge shortage of rare earth metals on Earth that can instead be found on other planets and the moon. This is why he believes Moon mining and Mars mining will hopefully happen in his lifetime.
Rolls-Royce is planning for Moon/Mars mining in collaboration with UK Space Agency
Earlier this year, The firm released a joint study into nuclear power options for space rockets with the UK Space Agency. They are looking into how a micro-nuclear reactor could be used to propel rockets in space at huge speeds and how that technology could then be redeployed to provide energy for drilling, processing, and storage for the Moon/Mars mining.
Dave Gordon, head of the company’s defense division, said; “Rolls-Royce is the only company on the planet that does mechanical, electrical, and nuclear and a full end-to-end lifecycle of nuclear capability. The company could use its experience in developing nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Navy for 60 years to apply what it learned to spacecraft since submarines and spacecraft are somewhat similar.” He also said that there’s an ultimate need for rare earth metals on Earth that can be extracted from the Moon’s main resources – which include Helium-3, an element used in nuclear fusion – could prove valuable for future space trips, with the Moon being utilized as a refuelling station.
NASA’s participation in the study
A team of researchers from the University of Arizona received a $500,000 grant from NASA to develop space-mining methods. They are developing a pool of autonomous robots that could search and mine for rare earth metals on the Moon. Valuable natural resources on the Moon include water, which can be converted to rocket fuel, and rare elements and metals that are used in energy production and electrical elements back on Earth.