CHENNAI: After the success of missions to Moon and Mars, India is vying along with several other countries to plan missions to tap the resources in the heavenly bodies for economic prosperity and energy security, a top Indian scientist said.
Renowned defence technologist and father of ‘BrahMos’ cruise missile, Apathukatha Sivathanu Pillai, who was honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award by Rotary Club of Madras, told reporters that India and several other countries are vying to mine the moon for helium-3, which could be used in nuclear reactors to provide enormous amount of power without any harmful carbon emissions or radioactive products.
He said currently nuclear plants use nuclear fission technology, the process in which uranium nuclei is split resulting in release of energy besides nuclear waste that has to be stored securely, to generate power. But scientists across the world are working to develop a nuclear fusion reactor. Under nuclear fusion, the reactors use the same energy source that power stars and sun.
He said currently a consortium of global scientists, including from India, are working on International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor and their focus is to develop a fusion reactor that uses helium-3 and deuterium. Solar winds have helium but the earth’s atmosphere absorbs it. However, in moon there is no atmosphere, so helium lies untapped. “I predict by the next two decades we could see missions being carried out to tap the resources in moon,” the scientist said.
Earlier delivering his address after being conferred with the lifetime achievement award, the scientist highlighted how India has emerged one of the global superpowers after Independence.
“We did not have technical prowess and relied on technology from other countries. When the US imposed ban on importing critical technologies under missile technology control regime, we took it as a challenge and built our own. Now we are way ahead in many countries including the United States,” he said.
“In the 1971 war with Pakistan, we had to rely on the then Soviet Union when the United States Seventh Fleet entered Indian waters. Now we don’t have to rely on anyone. We are efficient enough to face any kind of threat from any power,” the scientist said.