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Resolved: The United States Federal Government should mine the moon for He3.

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Voting Style: Judge Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/24/2014 Category: Education
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,529 times Debate No: 63816
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (10)
Votes (1)




Resolved: The United States Federal Government should mine the moon for He3.

Hello, this is a debate challenged by Geographia to Lannan. This is a judge-voted debate, however, I stress that I rather this be well-read and not voted , then well-voted and not read at all.

This debate, like the title implies is over whether or not the US Federal Government should mine for He3 on the Moon.


US Federal Government should go undefined.
"Should" concerns the legitimacy of going to the moon to mine and the reasons and benefits.
"Moon" is Earth's main Natural moon, also known as Luna.
"He3" is Helium-3, a rare element found in the regoliths of the moon and rarely found on Earth.

No semantics, and I will ask Lannan if that the title implies that we start to mine fairly quickly, as in 5-10 years.

If Lannan as anything to say, he could PM me, or comment.

Thank you.


I accept this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you Lannan for this debate.

Before I start, I will go over what He3 is.

He3 is a light, non-radioactive isotope of Helium. It is sought after for research for Nuclear Fusion. It is what the Sun uses as fuel, along with other elements. In short, if we are successful in mastering Nuclear Fusion, then that is a massive step in moving along in the Galaxy, and since we are riding the Space Highway with our asses out the window, the faster we get to move other planets, the better.

Argument One:

Nuclear Fusion is a source of energy.

Like I said above, we are at risk when we chew the fat on Earth trying to see who can get the richest or who can have the coolest iPhone. It is feasible we can get this done if we give NASA the funding it needs to give us Nuclear Fusion. Nuclear Fusion is really, really cool. For one thing it is clean, and that it gives us about 3 times more energy then what our Nuclear Power Plants give us, using fission [1][2].

If you are wondering if it is feasible to build such a thing, Lockheed Martin built a prototype a while back. [3]

The above sources state that Fusion is a cheap, and powerful energy source. Using He3, this can come to fruition. The cost of a few round trips to the moon, or even a lunar base are subtle compared to the answer of the energy question.

Argument Two:

He3 has more uses.

These include cryogenics [6], some health uses [4] and neutron detection, which can detect dangerous elemental material [5]. Mining the moon can give us a new source for all of these things.

Thank you again, Lannan. I eagerly wait for your rebuttal.









Contention 1: International Law and Hegenomy.

The treaty explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the Moon or a planet, claiming that they are the common heritage of mankind." (

The Outer Space Treaty was passed to prevent any nation to increase any chance of war in space and has banned any nation from mining the moon as it would be taking their resources. Richard Folley, Proffessor in law, has show that when it comes to this that the US and even private companies should think twice before comencing such a mission as it will do nothing, but prevent an arms race to the moon which was the very thing that the OST sought to prevent. He also pointed out that it would cause legal trouble as well as financial trouble. (

International Law is very important as the US conciders itself the world police dog as we go around and try to remove dictators that have committed crimes of humanity, but many nations are starting to question us as of late as we are constantly breaking international law ourselves wheater it be via a drone strike, our airstrikes in Syria, or even the NSA. With other nations beginning to doubt the US as the great police dog some are starting to turn to other nations. (

Hegenomy would also be another key thing here as we can tie in that the world police dog is generally the responability of the great Global Hegemon, but with the US not fallowing international law and loosing support and throughout history many people see a great war occur when a hegemon falls and the nation that is poised to do so is China and we can see that with China having a majority of the Minerals in the world and the great economic leader one could see that the Chinese will be contesting the US in the near future.

(Pages 89-90(

Contention 2: He-3 on moon Not worth it and economic alternatives exist.

Frank Close, a Physist at Oxford, has show that take He-3 from the moon and using it for the safe fuel will not happen. Here is his results:
"all of the nuclei in the fuel mingle together, which means that two deuterium nuclei can rapidly fuse to give a tritium nucleus and proton. The tritium can now fuse with the deuterium – again much faster than the deuterium can with helium-3 – to yield helium-4 and a neutron. So by bringing helium-3 from the Moon, all we will end up doing is create a deuterium– tritium fusion machine, which is the very thing the helium aficionados wanted to avoid!"

Here he shows that it won't come out as anticipated and we will end up with a radioactive substance as the He-3 will attempt to get it's valence balance and will do so and it is seen by Close's findings.

Mark Williams, MIT tech proffessor, has also calculated the same exact thing and that it would be harder to do this and he also found that in order to get the fussion process to occur that it would take exactly 6 times the sun's internal amount of heat to commence the process. (

Well Lannan, how about alternatives? Well you can see that we have actually been coming up with great alternatives like Lithum-6, BF3, and even the He-3 that was used for national security issues has long since been replaced. Before this turnover, 80% of all of the US's He-3 was being used for national security. (

The Congressional Reserch service has actually found that there are plenty of US reserves left and that we can use the He-3 extracted from natural gas, which is done so to increase combustion, for our He-3 needs. They have predicted that it will include a 5 million bottle increase of natural gas supplies thus making Pro's plan useless. (

Contention 3: Price Tag

One thing that my opponent doesn't tell you is the pricetag. It currently costs us exactly $10,000 per pound to put something in Low Earth Orbit, that's not even close to the moon. We would also need a perminate base on the moon as well as mining supplies and equipment and constant transportation and energy on the moon to make the machines work. ( If this plan passes then it would cause a drastic increase in taxes and that is something that the soon to be Republican majority will not allow to pass. We can observe from the Government shutdown last year when Tea Party Members Ted Cruz and Rand Paul both refused to pass any type of budget unless the government defunds Obamacare. Under Obamacare US taxes have increased by 7-8% and image the fit that will occur when the price tag of this will happen. (
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you for your excellent rebut.

I will now began.

Lannan’s Contention 1:

While this seems reasonable on paper, there is no reason why that this would stop us. This treaty is unenforceable. It is arguably also in the way of progress, but that is irreverent. To say that a treaty would stop the “should” is just politics. If there was a Treaty to stop making/producing/spreading around nuclear material, and we discover there is a cheap cure for cancer that involves nuclear material, as absurd as it might be, would it not be odd to turn it down on the basis of a treaty?

Lannan’s Contention 2:

I tried googling Lannan’s first source to find out it is behind a login wall, then I tried to google the quote, and only 47 results came up, including this debate, the source and some downloadable docs.
However, the point seems to be in the next source.
I think I might have used this source myself, but the website cites that fusion would take 6 times the temperature of the sun. There appears to be no cited source on this or proof, so I don’t really know what to say to this. Close seems to be a smart guy, but again I want to see more.

Then Lannan brings up alternatives. He suggests Boron Trifluoride, or BT3. BT3 has some use, but it is toxic and can cause irritation in one’s eye, nose skin and respiratory system. It also cause nosebleeds and skin and eye burns. In animals it causes pneumonitis and kidney damage.[2]
Lannan also suggests L6, but it is still in the works and Lannan’s source for this doesn't mention it again.

Lannan’s Contention 3:

The Price tag is surely not small. However Lannan’s assumptions that we need to raise taxes is false. We don’t. Simply put, we take it from the Military Budget and the VA. In the Fiscal 2014 year, we spend about $560 Billion in Military and the VA[1]. We can double NASA’s budget by only taking $20 billion from them. We have no reason to be pumping this much especially how far ahead we are in terms of funding. Lannan also mentions that it costs $10k for a LEO mission, however, SpaceX can do it for only ~$700/ib. No, I didn't leave out a zero. That is less than 1/10th of the mentioned price tag.
In Lannan’s technologyreview source, it is stated that the only He3 reactor “is barely in the 6 figures”. There appears to be no citation to that claim.



Contention 1: International Law and Hegemony

My opponent states that it is in the way of progression and that the other nations have no way of enforcing it, but both of these statements are indeed false. First is that the punishment for violating law. Many nations will likely renounce the US actions and will be forced to make some sort of counter collective action against the United States. ( Russia, a nation who has it's name on the Treaty as well, controlls the US rocket system ever since the US government defunded the rocket program from NASA and the Russian Federation could respond by cutting off the American access to their space launching which would immidiately halt any/all US advancement into space and the US would have wasted billions upon billions of dollars into a program that doesn't lead to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. ( Russia has threatend to cut the US off over the Ukrainian Crisis so something that would do this and violate a peaceful treaty would definiately cause the Russians to end the argreement between the Americans and the Russians over the launch program.

My opponent drops my hegemonic argument so I extend that across the board. Here is the graph that I had provided last round, but apparently did not post.

Contention 2: He-3 on the moon Not worth it and economic alternatives exist.

My opponent tries to discount my first source, but apparently his credidentials of being a Physist at Oxford University is not good enough, but here are a list of his awards and honners he recieved in his works.

  • He became a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in 1991.

  • The Institute of Physics awarded him its 1996 Kelvin Medal and Prize, which is given "for outstanding contributions to the public understanding of physics".[2]

  • From 1993–9, he was Vice-President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

  • He was appointed an OBE in 2000.

  • Since 2003, he has been Chairman of the British team (BPhO) in the International Physics Olympiad, based at the University of Leicester.[3][citation needed]

  • 2013 Awarded the Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize] (

The thing about radiation is that what my opponent is doing causes the same thing as it is provided by Frank Close, which was dropped by my opponent. My opponent states that Li-6 is not ready for use, but he is incorrect as we has been using it to power Hydrogen bombs which makes the atomic bomb look like a firecracker. (

My opponent drops my afgument on how we are getting 5 billion bottles of He-3 from natural gasses due to the withdrawling it to increase combustion.

Contention 3: Price Tag

My opponent brings up Space-X breaking the cost barrier, but what he fails to tell you is that it's a Private Company and due to the resolution it must be a federal organization which would be NASA. ( According to NASA it costs 10k to put a pound into LEO alone, not an LEO mission like my opponent had stated. ( So with that I extend across the rest of my argument here.

Debate Round No. 3


Admittly I regret not making this 5 rounds so Im not cramping for sapce, but whatever.

This will be short.

Contention One:

Lannan is getting into another beast with politics. If Lannan is implying we need Russia to send Space Ships to space, he is wrong. We did that for decades. Second, I already explained why this is bunk. The rest is not relebant enough.Treaty or no Treaty, there is little reason to stop doing it just because of a Cold War era treaty. I welcome Lannan to debate this later.

In short, Russia will raise a fuss about this, but they will just Saber rattle.

Contention Two:

I wanted sources. If you merely point to this guy, it is a fallacy. He coulld be 6'5 and have a 13 inch penis and have a IQ of 300, along with everything you said and I would still say the same thing. This is why I am "dropping" contention two. First because of your fallacy, second, there is no source beyond yours.

I looked over your 5 billion He3 source and could not find where we got it.

It appears that we can't get [much of] it from gas, and it is in short supply on Earth irregardless.[1]

Contention Three:

I might have not been clear enough. What I was saying is that we can do it cheaper then what you have said. I did not say SpaceX would do it.

Thank you Lannan for this debate. It was fun.

If you like to debate me more, I am open in ~3 weeks.



Contention 1: International Law and Global Hegemony

On August 1st of 2005, George W. Bush signed a Presidential Decree stating that NASA's space shuttle program will no longer be funded. Here is President Bush on the decision.
"We cannot find any justification to continue the deficit funding of a program that has no application other that proving that with enough money America can do anything," said Bush. (
As I brought up in my last round the US has had to rely on the Russian Space shuttle program to get anything into space as NASA no longer has a Shuttle Program. So we can see that with us trying to impliment this economic plan it will be blocked by the Russians as it violates the Treaty as it will also be backed by the other 100 nations who also signed the treaty. Though Russia may sabber rattle they can still break the deal if they precieve it as a threat and many times, even when the US has tried to defend Europe with Russian missles, Russia has acted strongly against which even means that the Russians will precieve something like that as a threat could one only imagine what they will think when they hear that the US is developing nuclear energy on the moon?
Pro has also dropped by China overtaking the US in Hegemony argument so I extend that across the board.
Contention 2: He-3 from the moon not worth it, alternatives exist.
My opponent wants more sourcing, then I shall give him a source that he was content with earlier and here is a quotation from it that states practiacally the same thing.
"deuterium reacts up to 100 times more slowly with helium-3 than it does with tritium. In a plasma contained in a tokamak, Close stresses, all the nuclei in the fuel get mixed together, so what's most probable is that two deuterium nuclei will rapidly fuse and produce a tritium nucleus and proton. That tritium, in turn, will likely fuse with deuterium and finally yield one helium-4 atom and a neutron. In short, Close says, if helium-3 is mined from the moon and brought to Earth, in a standard tokamak the final result will still be deuterium-tritium fusion." (
I had explained this one in an earlier round that we get this from taking the He-3 out of natural gas in order to increase the combustion of natural gas. This leads to the 5 billion bottles of He-3 that we get rendering this point useless.
I extend across my Li-6 argument as my opponent dropped it in the last round.
Contention 3: Price Tag
I understand that it can be done cheaper, but the rate that NASA, a government agency can do it for is more expensive and via the resolution, the only option you can take is NASA's $10,000 per pound.
Thank you and please vote Con!
Debate Round No. 4
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
Where's everyone else?
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
Both sides had a number of good points, but also had a number of dropped opportunities and "did you even read your own sources" moments. I"m not sure if the issue with sources was a gambit of hoping your opponent wouldn"t read them to call your bluff or what, but here we go (FYI, I will not be going through the contentions in order that they were done)"

Pro had the objective of showing that the US government "should" (a moral statement of what it ought to do) go to the moon to mine He3 within 5-10 years. I would first like to say that it was a little disappointing that Con did not jump all over the time limit.

Con basically has one of two goals. Either that we should not be doing Nuclear Fusion in general (thus negating the reason to mine He3) or that alternative methods are better than mining the moon (this is the path that he took). He brought up three key contentions, international relations, alternatives, and costs. Let"s go over each one.
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago

First, let us note that this point is not something that is just "won" by con or pro, this has to be weighed in relation to the alternatives (for example, it can be very expensive, but if there are no cheaper alternatives, it still wins out, or if it is very cheap but there are even cheaper alternatives, it still loses), okay, let"s continued. This point was messed up with by both sides. Con points out that NASA has the cost listed as $10,000 per pound while Pro said it was only $705 per pound (from a private company). Con counters saying the debate is about the Federal Government mining on the moon so we have to use the government"s numbers. This does not hold water, since we are only talking about the government mining on the moon, the method of travel is not limited in the debate. However, Con"s source of the SpaceX program is a one way trip. It cannot travel back (also, while its cargo is 53 tons for LEO, it is only 14 tons for lunar travel (please note that the rocket itself weighs about 1,500 tons and so it can"t carry another rocket there to launch back). However, this was a missed opportunity by Con to legitimately cement the higher cost. As such, he did not challenge the number, nor its ability to return back.

==International Relations==

Con correctly pointed out that we are members of an international space treaty, however, the treaty does not specifically prohibit mining or the extraction of resources (it focuses on placing weapons in space and trying to claim something as your own, like saying "we claim the moon, no one else may visit it") and it does have, in article 16 that any nation may withdraw from it. Now Pro did not argue any of that, only that it is fine to simply ignore the treaty, to which Con correctly stated how that would affect our image in foreign relations (though what real effects that would have were not dived into).
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago

The main aspect, that the other two need to be weighed against, is the alternatives that were presented. Con stated that He3 can be mined from earth in natural gas mining, as well as other fuels for fusion energy. Pro counters by saying that BT3 can cause eye irritation (FYI, not an adequate refutation) and that L6 is "still in the works" (also not a refutation when we are talking about the future). This section quickly devolved from "alternatives" to "He3 would not survive the trip back" and "yes, my source is credible, even if you can"t access it." However, Con did point out that L6 has been used for years in fusion bombs (though he did not mention the BT3 again). For the mining on earth, Con"s source was a pain in the butt to dig through. I had a 31 page document that mention helium-3 430 damn times. Since "bottles" (and "bottle" does not appear in the article according to ctrl-f) is not a standard unit of measurement, it was upsetly important to verify where the heck it was in here. I could not find it, the best I could find was that natural gas produced 80 billion liters of Helium, and that He3 was between 70 " 242 ppb of that (that comes out to 5,600 " 19,360 liters of He3 per year from that single source)

Con missed that Pro handed him a golden egg in his R2. Con, in an attempt to secure his "5-10 year" quota linked Lockheed Martin"s T-4 fusion reactor. My first thought reading it was that they gave no details, don"t have a working model that they can show, so it is not a solid source. Then I dug a little deeper and saw that the T-4 style is not an He3 reactor, but an D reactor, so it uses a completely different fuel source (one that Con did not mention as an alternative), so Pro killed himself before Con even started (had Con taken advantage of it).
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
All in all, I felt that both sides made a ton of mistakes and missed opportunities. That the method of getting to the moon and back was not fully thought out, and not fully refuted. At no point did anyone suggest how much of this stuff was actually needed (hint, 3 grams of it will yield over 500 MWhrs, meaning a full scale reactor would only be burning through 6 grams an hour) to see if our maximum 20,000 liters per year from natural gas would be enough (hint, it is not, that would only supply previously said reactor for 6 days). And alternatives were only glanced over. This seemed to turn into a debate about "get He3 from the moon or not" and the "not" side provided almost no alternative.

So I am stuck with weighing the costs and international relations against alternatives that got about 2 sentences each. The S&G was sufficient by both sides that I did not notice any mistakes that harmed the ability to read or comprehend what you were saying. There were no conduct issues (though I did laugh when Pro used a source that hurt them on multiple levels, then spent most of R3 attacking Con"s sources). Sources, because both sides used sources that did not say what they linked them for (be it talking about T-4 reactors, or He3 from natural gas) or we could not access because of log in, I do not give either side the source points. Leaving arguments. I kind of do not want to give arguments to either side, however we were presented with alternatives with no meaningful drawbacks (though no depth to have any confidence in them). We were never given a reason why He3 from the moon was better than any of the alternatives, only that it was there and we could get it. As such, I award the arguments to Con.
Posted by Geographia 2 years ago
All right.
Posted by lannan13 2 years ago
I'll accept Sunday morning after I get off of work. If need be you may bump the timeframe back to current-2050.
Posted by lannan13 2 years ago
Thank you.
Posted by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
I will judge. Best of luck to all.
Posted by lannan13 2 years ago
shorten to 4 rounds.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: see comments for RFD