- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 29, 2006

MOSCOW (Agence France-Presse) — Russia is planning to mine a rare fuel on the moon by 2020 with a permanent base and a heavy-cargo transport link, a Russian space official said.

“We are planning to build a permanent base on the moon by 2015, and by 2020, we can begin the industrial-scale delivery … of the rare isotope helium-3,” Nikolai Sevastyanov, head of the Energia space corporation, was quoted by ITAR-TASS news agency as saying at an academic conference last week.

The International Space Station would play a key role in the project, and a regular transport relay to the moon would be established with the help of the planned Clipper spaceship and the Parom, a space capsule intended to tug heavy cargo containers around space, Mr. Sevastyanov said.

Helium-3 is a nonradioactive isotope of helium that can be used in nuclear fusion.

Rare on earth but plentiful on the moon, it is seen by some experts as an ideal fuel because it is powerful, nonpolluting and generates almost no radioactive byproduct.

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