Europe ‘to start mining the surface of the moon by 2025’

Mining the rock which covers the moon could be a crucial first step to establishing lunar bases, or even colonies – and the European Space agency aims to start by 2025.

The ESA has signed a contract with rocket maker ArianeGroup to prepare for a mission to mine the lunar regolith – from which oxygen, water and fuel could be extracted.

Regolith covers the moon to a depth of 12 feet, and scientists believe it could offer key chemical resources which would allow future missions to build moon bases.

The 2025 ESA mission will be robotic – but could pave the way for future manned missions.

Dr David Parker, Director, Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA, said: 'The use of space resources could be a key to sustainable lunar exploration and this study is part of ESA's comprehensive plan to make Europe a partner in global exploration in the next decade.'

André-Hubert Roussel, CEO of ArianeGroup, said, 'It is an opportunity to recall the ability of Ariane 64 to carry out Moon missions he European Space Agency (ESA) is hoping to start mining on the Moon by 2025.'

- This article first appeared on Yahoo

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