By: Erin Ruberry
"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."
-President John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962
More than 50 years after President Kennedy's famous moon speech, his words continue to inspire. Now a new generation prepares to heed the president's call and aim for the lunar surface, not for human exploration but to mine the moon for its precious minerals.
Among the rare earth elements found on the moon are titanium, magnesium and iron; there's also helium-3, which "could provide safer nuclear energy in a fusion reactor, since it is not radioactive and would not produce dangerous waste products."
Silicon Valley titans like Google are looking toward the lunar surface and offering scientists prizes "designed to inspire pioneers to do robotic space transport on a budget."
Is this the start of a new space race?
Tonight at 10/9c, Science Channel's three-part special Man vs. The Universe looks at commercial spacecraft preparing to mine the moon and the benefits these groups hope to reap. Here's a sneak peek: