NEEP602 Course Notes (Fall 1997)
Resources from Space

Lecture #41 Show me your ROI!

Title: Planning for Lunar Self Sufficiency


"Pure" Management Components for a 3He Enterprise

Professor Thompson's analysis indicated that a lunar 3He mining activity would be of interest to investors if the government financed its R&D in return for supplies of resources it would need at a lunar base (Lecture #34).

Are any major private initiatives possible in space without the government's direct financial assistance?

Launch Costs (see Schmitt, 1994)

One means of attracting private financing would be to build-in early investment returns as well as a source of cash flow during the early R&D period.

Key business element is financing R&D, as Professor Thompson has shown

  • He also has shown that if the government assumes the burden of financing mining R&D, a reasonable return on investment can be expected.
    • Probably cannot count on this possibility in the foreseeable future (see for example, Grim Budgets Spur Call to Action, Science, v 272, April 26, 1996, p 477.)

  • Full private financing may become possible by combining the lunar 3He mining initiative with the terrestrial 3He fusion electric power initiative.

    • Investment risk and R&D financing requirements reduced by sales of spin-off fusion technologies (Lecture #40)
      • Inertial Electrostatic Confinement fusion devices can be built small
      • There are existing and future uses for low cost sources of neutrons and protrons
    • Future returns on investment also increased by returns from sales of fusion electric power plants and/or electricity in addition to sales of lunar 3He and by-products.
    • contracts to supply government with technology, resources, power, and/or space access could reduce total private financing required


    Schmitt, H.H., 1994, Lunar Industrialization: How to Begin? Journal of The British Interplanetary Society, 47, 527-530.

    Planning for Lunar Self Sufficiency

    Lecture 41

    Professor G. L. Kulcinski

    Dec. 8, 1997

    One Possible Approach to "Kick Starting" a Near Term Initiative For Using Lunar Resources


    If we concentrate on one lunar resource, 3He, then we can ask ourselves, "what can be done to expedite the development of fusion devices that will burn the cleaner, advanced fusion fuel 3He?" The first thing to do is to contrast the traditional energy approach versus a commercial product approach (see Figure 1).

    Figure 1


    Why consider the development of IEC devices in a commercial product approach?

    Figure 2

    Figure 3


    There have been several IEC devices built and Wisconsin now holds the record for DD neutron generation in a gridded device.

    Figure 4


    There are several fuels that can be burned in IEC devices to produce useful fluxes of neutrons, protons, and alpha particles.

    Figure 5

    Figure 6


    There are many applications of particles from the DT, DD, D3He, and 3He3He reactions.

    Figure 7


    Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is emerging as a major diagnostic in the medical profession.

    Figure 8


    Neutrons can be used to make 18F.

    Figure 9

    Figure 10


    A wide variety of positron emitters can be made with protons from advanced fusion fuels.


    Figure 11


    Small mobile PET generators could reduce radiation exposure to patients.

    Figure 12


    IEC devices could play an important role in the production of 99Mo for medical diagnostics

    Figure 13

    Figure 14

    Figure 15


    Land mines cause enormous damage to the civilian population,

    Figure 16


    and neutrons from small mobile IEC devices can be used to detect explosives;

    Figure 17


    to detect chemical agents;

    Figure 18


    and to detect transuranic elements (mainly fissionable elements).

    Figure 19


    Protons from D3He reactions can be used to transmute long lived fission products to very short half life elements.

    Figure 20


    Finally, the development of the right fusion concept, capable of burning 3He, can lead to short term as well as long term benefits to society.

    Figure 21



    G. L. Kulcinski, 1996, "Near Term Commercial Opportunities From Long Range Fusion Research", Fusion Technology, Vol. 30, p. 411.

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