UCF researchers help plan missions to mine moon's surface

UCF researchers are headed to the moon, and they're going to help mine it.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Researchers at the University of Central Florida are planning a mission to mine the surface of the moon.

This researcher will be critical in deciding where the U.S. and private companies land on the lunar surface, and how we make money when we get there.

The U.S. hasn't stepped foot on the moon since 1972.

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China has a rover there now and Israel recently tried to land on the surface but failed.

Now the U.S. is set on getting back to the moon, within five years, because what's there, is money.

"This is the infrastructure that enables you to have an economy in space,” said Dr. Kevin Cannon with the UCF Department of Physics.

UCF researchers will serve as the guides on where to land on the moon and to mine it when we get there.

They plan on assess soil composition, sun exposure for solar needs, and possible underground ice reserves.

That ice is a valuable resource, where it can be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen, and then turned into rocket fuel.

This will be critical to set up lunar outposts, mining operations and missions beyond the moon.

"The idea is that you have a market when you have suppliers, the people mining and producing propellant, and customers, who want to buy that propellant," Cannon said.

UCF compares the new moon push to the New World expeditions in the 1400s. and the mining to oil rigs at the turn of the century.

China's rover is actively mapping and taking soil samples right now.

The first trillionaire on earth, UCF scientists say, will likely make their money mining in space.

UCF is already on the starting line when that next space race begins.

"What we're seeing is these companies, these space agencies, are increasingly coming to us,” Cannon said. “They know we have the people with the expertise they need to bring these plans into reality."