Smugglers, Pirates and the Race for Water-Ice on the Moon


WASHINGTON – If private trips to the Moon prove successful in 2018, it will mean increased urgency for laws concerning access and ownership of trillions of pounds of water-ice found on the Earth’s satellite.

India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft in the late 2000s revealed the extent of water-ice on the Moon, which was later confirmed by NASA. The spacecraft documented more than 40 craters near the north pole of the Moon estimated to hold some 1 trillion pounds of water-ice. The Moon’s surface area is about 14.6 million square miles, meaning there could be significantly more water-ice, which when melted can be used as drinking water and to extract hydrogen for rocket fuel.

George Sowers, a Colorado School of Mines professor, told House lawmakers last week that water resources could mean disputes and illegal activity.

“If there’s wealth in space, eventually there’s going to be pirates in space, so you kind of have to have a way of ensuring the security of the enterprises that take place out there,” Sowers said during a hearing before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Space. – READ MORE

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