A Trump administration initiative plans to turn the moon “into a kind of gas station for outer space,” according to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Development on the planet’s natural satellite would allow deeper expeditions beyond the solar system and help propel commercial space exploration initiatives. "A lot depends upon how successful we are in turning the moon into a kind of gas station for outer space," Ross said Thursday morning on CNBC.
Ross, who previously worked in private equity investment, has been working to advance private space ventures as one of the members of the reconstituted National Space Council.
"The plan is to break down the ice into hydrogen and oxygen, use those as the fuel propellant," Ross added.
Previous studies have explored this concept, concluding that transforming the moon into an interstellar pit stop would lower fuel costs and increase energy efficiency.
The new White House has also proposed to turn over American responsibilities on the International Space Station (ISS) to private companies.
Asteroid mining is another serious futuristic interest for oil and gas companies planning to stay in the fossil fuel business past the renewable energy takeover by the end of this century. While scientists and engineers have been studying the costs and technology necessary to launch space mining probes and missions, energy consultant Tom James at Navitas Resources reckons that private companies could begin launching satellites prospecting asteroids within five years, and actual mining for water and rare metals on asteroids could begin within eight years.
“Water is the new oil of space…Middle East investment in space is growing as it works to shift from an oil-based to a knowledge-based economy,” James told Bloomberg in an interview published last year. The Middle East “is an emerging new space power fueling the future of commercial space and exploration,” he added.
|Zainab Calcuttawala for OilPrice.com|