Moon mining startup Interlune wants to start digging for helium-3 by 2030

A startup called Interlune is trying to become the first private company to mine the moon’s natural resources and sell them back to Earth. Interlune will initially focus on helium-3, an isotope of helium produced by the fusion process of the sun, which is abundant on the moon. in an interview with Ars Technica, Rob Meyerson, Interlune co-founder and former president of Blue Origin, said the company hopes to fly its harvester on one of the upcoming commercial lunar missions supported by NASA. Meyerson said the plan is to have a test facility on the moon by 2028 and be operational by 2030.

Interlune announced this week that it has raised $18 million in funding, including $15 million in the latest round led by Seven Seven Six, a venture firm created by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. The resource it targets, helium-3, could be used on Earth for applications such as quantum computing, medical imaging, and perhaps one day as fuel for fusion reactors. Helium-3 is carried to the Moon by the solar wind and is thought to remain on the surface trapped in the soil, and is blocked by the magnetosphere when it reaches Earth.

Interlune aims to mine large amounts of lunar soil (or regolith), process it, and extract helium-3 gas, which will then be sent back to Earth. In addition to its proprietary lunar harvesters, Interlune is planning a robotic lander mission to assess the concentration of helium-3 at a selected location on the surface.

A diagram showing how Helium-3 is formed by the Sun, travels to the Moon, and is redirected by the Earth's magnetosphere.A diagram showing how Helium-3 is formed by the Sun, travels to the Moon, and is redirected by the Earth's magnetosphere.


“For the first time in history, harvesting natural resources from the Moon is technologically and economically feasible,” Meyerson said. The founding team includes Meyerson and former Blue Origin chief architect Gary Lai, Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt, former Rocket Lab chief Indra Hornsby and James Antifaev, who worked for Loon, Alphabet’s high-altitude balloon project.

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