Anthony Young reviews Return to the Moon: Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human Settlement of Space by Harrison H. Schmitt, in The Space Review:
Schmitt graduated from Caltech and then went on to Harvard to receive his Ph.D in geology…
Schmitt does not see our return to the Moon as economically viable without private enterprise becoming integrally involved, and justified only if America and its partners return to the Moon to stay. That means a permanent base, and eventually several bases. Schmitt’s book acknowledges the need to exploit the Moon’s resources in situ. The chief motivation in returning to the Moon, writes Schmitt, is the potential for energy generation that is locked within the lunar soil. Helium-3, arriving at the Moon by the solar wind, is imbedded deep in the lunar soil as a trace, non-radioactive isotope. Schmitt says the energy in the raw lunar soil could be unleashed through the process of deuterium/helium-3 fusion. Small-scale fusion experiments have been taking place at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Fusion Technology Institute, where Schmitt is a professor. He discusses other means of fusion processes in context. What Schmitt envisions for the future are cargo ships returning significant quantities of lunar soil to Earth for processing by fusion for energy generation. He goes into considerable detail explaining the economics of making this viable.