An artist's concept of a Helium 3 mining machine on the Moon. (Photo: ESA)

  • Lunar Explorers Society, Dutch section
  • Lunar Explorers Society, UK section
  • LunarSat (European space mission to send a microprobe into a lunar orbit around 2002. The satellite will investigate the lunar south pole for its suitability for the first permanent human outpost.)
  • India’s Moon Mission May Not Happen
  • Lunar power
  • Liberation, 15 Juillet 2000: Vacances dans l'espace
  • Paul Spudis: Next, Go Back to the Moon

    July 23, 2000

    In the Netherlands the first section of the international Lunar Explorers Society started activitities. The Dutch section will inform the general public about the society, organize lectures on the exploration and utilisation of the Moon and build a database for educational purposes.

    First to join the Dutch section of the Lunar Explorers Society was Gerard 't Hooft. 't Hooft, who is professor of physics at the University of Utrecht, won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1999. Dutch astronaut Wubbo Ockels, science journalist Piet Smolders and Moon Handbook author Carl Koppeschaar also strongly support the goals of the new society.

    Website of the Lunar Exporers Society in the Netherlands

    July 14, 2000


    Today history may have taken a strong turn into the right direction. This afternoon, the Lunar Explorers Society (LUNEX) was founded by members of the International Lunar Explorers Working Group (ILEWG) and other attendees of the 4th International Conference on the Exploration and Utilisation of the Moon (ICEUM4). The new society strives for a human return to the Moon. Its goal: to expand the presence of humans to the Moon permanently for the benefit of mankind and the progress of our species as a space-faring civilisation.

    At the end of the conference, ILEWG's chairman Bernard Foing envisioned a roadmap to the future of lunar exploration. By 2007 a microlanding could take place on the Moon. In 2008 we might have a large lander and rover, followed by the first robotic outpost, utilisation of lunar resources, development of infrastructure, the construction of a robotic village, development of infrastructure at the L1 libration point of the Earth-Moon system, lunar laboratories and an outpost for a human stay of 180 days. By 2015 we could have permanent settlements, leading to a full lunar colonisation.

    Astronet's webmaster, who happened to be one of the founding members, is, of course, delighted. As stated in his Moon Handbook we have to settle the Moon as otherwise the story of our race will be drawing to its close. In the futuristic travel guide, which was originally written in Dutch in 1992 and translated into English in 1994, an outline was followed in which the Moon is bursting with life in the year 2020. When the years passed nothing happened. Many readers commented that this timeline could not possibly be met. But now it seems that 2020 may not be far off the mark.

    Below are the founding declaration by ILEWG, a statement made by the Young Lunar Exlorers (YLE) at ICEUM4 and some very interesting words about a 'Helium rush' to the Moon.

    See for farming solar energy on the Moon: Scientists Look to Moonbeams for Earth Energy.

    Carl Koppeschaar

    Declaration of the 4th International Conference on the Exploration and Utilisation of the Moon, sponsored by The International Lunar Exploration Working Group

    Noordwijk, The Netherlands
    July 14, 2000

    Over 150 people gathered at ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, to discuss the prospects for lunar exploration, development and utilisation. We found that interest in these topics has been significantly advanced by recent discoveries made by lunar orbiting missions and will continue to advance as new missions to the Moon are implemented. The ESA SMART-1 and the Japanese Lunar-A and SELENE missions are under development and government and private organisations are proposing other lunar missions.

    In recognition of this re-emerging interest in the Moon, particularly among young people, the Conferencde attendees strongly support the formation of a Lunar Explorer's Society. This organisation, which was created today with intense participation from young explorers from around the world, will promote interest in science, technology development, new missions and better understanding of the role of the Moon in the future of human civilisation.

    The space agencies of the world are urged to focus their efforts to promote both public and private initiatives for lunar exploration and development. Government efforts should focus on the creation of technologies needed for lunar development and the conduct of itensified scientific studies of the Moon, from the Moon and on the Moon. Government-industry partnerships should address the development of the resources and infrastructure needed for long-term human activities on the Moon, and there are nearer-term commercial opportunities. The Earth and the Moon have been linked from the time of their formation, over 4.5 billion years ago. The ancient record of events in our region of the solar system cannot be discerned on the Earth, which remains geologically active. On the Moon, much of the early history still is available to be deciphered and is the focus of much scientific interest. The advances in knowledge being made with data from the recent Clementine and Lunar Prospector missions allow many lunar problems to be reassessed, and new priorities have emerged for lunar scientific exploration. The geophysical characterisation of the interior and the return of samples from key locations are important near-future mission objectives, and opportunities for higher resolution chemical and mineralogical mapping from orbit should be pursued.

    The Moon is an ideal test bed for demonstration of technologies to be used in the exploration of Mercury, Mars, asteroids or moons of the outer planets. In addition, many exciting advances that lead to long-term human exploration, development and settlement of the Moon can be initiated now through robotic programs (i.e. robotic outposts). Robotic missions can conduct scientific investigations, investigate the lunar environment, develop and demonstrate key technologies, and begin to establish the infrastructure that is neede to support humans.

    Because the Moon is close to the Earth, and has a much smaller gravity field, lunar resources might one day be exportable for use elsewhere in space. Potentially, some products (solar energy, 3He for fusion reactors) may be profitably brought from space to Earth. Technology for accomplishing these possibilities should be investigated further. We urgently need conclusive data and knowledge about the physical, chemical and mineralogical compostion of the lunar polar regions, which might contain supplies of hydrogen and water that could be useful for the near-term development of space. These should be developed in a considered, step-wise process, keeping in mind the potential for enviromental impact on the Moon. The protection of the lunar environment is of high importance, but it now appears that localised resource exploration and utilisation can be conducted without global adverse effects.

    As plans for lunar exploration and development are prepared, attention must be given to the inclusion of people from the entire world, and especially the young, in this endeavour. The Moon has a special significance in many cultures and sensitivity to these cultural aspects must be balanced with economic and technological advancements. The youth especially should be encouraged, perhaps by the creation of national progams to support small lunar missions designed, developed and implemented by students.

    We believe that the Moon can be both a beacon and a focus for the next generation of space exploration, which will concentrate on bringing new and important benefits (resources, technologies, employment and education) to the people of all Nations on Earth.

    Development of human capabilty on the Moon will be the next major step in humanity's emergence into the universe.



    After the Gold Rush on Earth a 'Helium rush' to the Moon?

    Even a Belgian mineral water 'SPA' has contributed to the lively discussions at the Noordwijk lunar conference. "No need to search for water in the South Pole Aitken basin, when we already have it here!" joked one participant.

    For the past two days, the 4th International Conference on Exploration and Utilisation of the Moon (ICEUM4) has been working in three splinter sessions devoted to 'Science of, from and on the Moon', 'Technology Demonstration, Utilisation of Lunar Resources and Environment' and 'Infrastructure Development and Lunar Role in Human Expansion in the Solar System'.

    The numerous oral presentations have given rise to detailed discussions on all aspects of future lunar exploration: the Moon as an astromical platform, the effects of undiscerned craters on travelling rovers, whether water-ice might be detected by forthcoming missions, the architecture (inflatable or otherwise) of lunar habitats, what would be needed for the Moon to support life, the scientific motivations for returning to the Moon...

    One subject illustrated how valuable the Moon could be to satisfy Earth's energetic needs. The 3He isotope ("Helium 3") present in the Moon's regolith just below the surface of its maria is considered to be the only resource worth extracting and bringing to Earth - more valuable than, gold, diamonds or even enriched uranium! Quantities of Helium 3 on the Moon are worth about 3 Billion US$ a tonne at todays' oil prices. The only terrestrial Helium 3 is some 200 kg result of the decay of tritium in thermo-nuclear weapons. It has been calculated that the Moon has enormous reserves of 3He in the order of one million metric tonnes.

    Energy needs on Earth are expected to increase two to three times by 2050. Helium 3 could be used in fusion reactors producing 'clean' electricity, with little or no radioactive waste, unlike present nuclear reactors. Second generation fusion reactors, using 3He and Deuterium, give rise to far fewer neutrons, at the source of radioactive waste and radiation damage. Third-generation fusion, in which Deuterium is replaced with a 3He-3He reaction produces no neutrons whatsoever.

    Scientists at the Fusion Technology Institute of the University of Winsconsin-Madison believe that the physics of this proposal have been demonstrated. In the last two years, they have had operated a facility (an inertial electrostatic confinement device, IEC) functioning with Deuterium and 3He.

    The device functioning experimentally actually consumes more energy than it generates, but is already useful to produce medical isotopes, required in positron emission tomography (PET). These isotopes allow doctors to map certain organs or abnormalities such as cancers. But the IEC fusion facility also opens up the prospect of producing electrical power on a massive scale: 10 000 MW-years with but one tonne of Helium 3. Compact fusion devices using Helium 3 can be envisaged for space propulsion capable of generating enormous acceleration.

    The remaining requirement is to obtain a supply of 3He. Studies have shown that a 20 Ton lunar mining machine, brought to the Moon in parts and assembled there could collect the regolith and using solar energy extract the 3He which could then be ferried to Earth. By-products of the extraction would include hydrogen, water, nitrogen, methane, all extremely valuable life support elements for lunar colonies.

    Would this mining operation disfigure the face of the Moon or contaminate its environment? According to the 3He advocates, its effects would be invisible from Earth, with excavated crater areas being simply smoothed out.


    July 18, 2000

    Declaration of the Young Lunar Explorers

    On the occasion of the Fourth International Conference on the Exploration and Utilisation of the Moon, held in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, we, the Young Lunar Explorers, convened under the auspices of the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG).

    We assembled as young people from diverse backgrounds to discuss lunar exploration and development, to formulate innovative ideas for that great purpose, and to present our recommendations to ILEWG.

    On this important occasion, we affirm that our ultimate goal is the permanent presence of humanity on the Moon: our cosmic companion and an inspiration through the ages.

    To achieve that aim, we believe that all space enterprises - both public and private - should initiate a sustained and appropriately co-ordinated program of lunar exploration and development.

    The youth of the world can and should play an important role in this program.

    We pledge to continue the interaction we have begun at this meeting, and to contribute our time and resources towards this vital endeavour.

    Together, we hope to bring the best of humanity to the Moon, and to bring the benefits of the Moon to all the people of Earth.


    To implement this vision, we have agreed upon the following:

    1. Commit to a continuing, periodic programme of funded student lunar projects (e.g. every 5 years). The first project of this programme should be one which has been extensively developed and which involves a strong program of public outreach. In Europe, a good example is the LunarSat initiative.

    2. Establish a step-by-step, evolutionary approach to lunar exploration, within a constrained timeframe of approximately 25 years. This strategy should:

    3. Found a Lunar Explorers Society, open to anyone. The Lunar Explorers Society should make a founding declaration, hold a founding conference and put forward recommendations within a specified period of time. It should also:

    4. Increase the opportunities for young professionals within space agencies.

    5. Set up continuing communication processes (such as electronic mail distribution lists and/or a web site) within the community of Young Lunar Explorers, and build links with interested parties around the world as well as with other generations of lunar explorers.

    6. Launch missions that address questions of popular concern (such as whether there is water on the Moon) or that appeal to popular interests (such as video rovers for entertainment).


    11 Jul 2000

    "Fasten your seat-belts, we are going to the Moon - and this time to stay!"

    Opening proceedings and greeting the many young people present this week in Noordwijk, Bernard Foing, President of the inter-agency International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG) nicely set the tone of the event.
    His call reflected the long- term ambitions of many of those attending the 4th International Conference on Exploration and Utilisation of the Moon (ICEUM4): the pursuit of lunar exploration in all its forms.

    More at:

    Next Lunar live web forum is on Wednesday 12 July 16:00-17:00 CET (15:00-16:00 UT).
    Topic : Future lunar missions / SMART-1 Newsletter for Tuesday 11 July 2000

    Exploring the Moon: Europe Leads the Way


    Paris, 27 June 2000

    ESA/ESTEC Capital of the Moon on 10-15 July

    From 10 to 15 July, Noordwijk (NL) will be the "Capital of the Moon" when ESA's establishment ESTEC hosts the 4th International Conference on Exploration and Utilisation of the Moon (ICEUM4). The Moon conference is organised by the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG). "The purpose of the ICEUM4 conference", says Bernard H. Foing, current ILEWG chairman, "is to gather Lunar Explorers (young and old), scientists, engineers, industrial firms and organisations to review recent activities and prepare for the next steps on the Moon".

    At the Young Lunar Explorers session on 10 July, young professionals from all over the world will present their ideas, dreams and work concerning lunar and solar system exploration. Many of them have been invited from ESA and ILEWG to participate. They will reflect on proposals and initiatives for using the Moon for public, cultural and educational benefits.

    During the Lunar Science and Technology sessions on 11 and 12 July, the most recent science discoveries on the Moon – notably the possible presence of water - will be discussed. The participants will review the key outstanding questions on the origin and evolution of the Earth-Moon system.

    ESA will present SMART-1, the first European satellite to be launched towards the Moon in 2002. This ESA mission will be testing solar electric propulsion and other innovative approaches for future deep space probes. International projects and core technologies for lunar and solar system exploration will also be discussed, such as: propulsion systems, landers, rovers, robotic outposts, and habitats.

    On 13 July several ILEWG task groups will have dedicated sessions on all aspects of lunar exploration, including: "Science of and from the Moon", "Living on the Moon", "Key technologies", "Utilisation of lunar resources", "Infrastructures for lunar bases", "Lunar role in human expansion in the solar system", "Social, cultural, artistic and economical aspects".

    On 14 July, the ILEWG task groups will report their work and recommendations to the attendees and the press. The participants will formulate the "ILEWG 2000 Lunar Declaration", and will propose a plan of action for International Lunar Explorers and space agencies.


  • ICEUM4 conference programme and registration information
  • ILEWG forum page ESA
  • SMART-1 page
  • ESA Science website

    Back to ASTRONET's home page
    Terug naar ASTRONET's home page