Helium 3 might make better fusion bombs and Chinese lunar rover will return lunar soil in 2017

Chang’e 5 is an unmanned Chinese lunar exploration mission currently under development, which is expected to land on the Moon by 2017. Chang’e 5 will be China’s first sample return mission, aiming to return at least 2 kilograms of lunar soil and rock samples back to the Earth

The lunar regolith on all surface of the Moon is estimated to contain 2,469,000 tons of helium 3.

One ton of helium-3 has the potential to produce 1.5 times more destructive power than the Tsar Bomba. Tsar Bomba had 50 megatons of yield.

Bombs that release a significant amount of energy directly by fusion, but do not use fusion neutrons to fission the fusion stage jacket, are called Fission-Fusion weapons. If they employ the additional step of jacket fissioning using fusion neutrons they are called Fission-Fusion-Fission weapons.

The fast fission of the secondary jacket in a fission-fusion-fission bomb is sometimes thought of, or referred to, as a “third stage” in the bomb, and it is in a sense. But care must be taken not to confuse this with the true three-stage thermonuclear design in which there is another complete tertiary fusion stage.

Bombs that are billed as “clean” bombs (a relative term) obtain a large majority of their total yield from fusion. The last and largest stage of these bombs is always a pure fusion stage (not counting the spark plug), substituting a non-fissionable material for the jacket. The fusion-fraction of these designs as demonstrated in tests has been as high as 97% (this was the Tsar Bomba, see below).

Fission-fusion-fission bomb are dirty, but they have superior “bang for the buck” and “pow per pound”. They generate a large amount of fission fallout since fission accounts for most of their yield. The 5 Mt Redwing Tewa test (20 July 1956 GMT, Bikini Atoll) had a fission fraction of 85%. If the emphasis is on cheapness depleted or natural uranium is usually used for the jacket. If the emphasis is on yield per weight (like nearly all modern strategic weapons) enriched uranium is used.

The staging concept allows the use as fuel pure deuterium, or varying mixtures of lithium 6 and 7 in the form of a compound with deuterium (lithium 6/7 deuteride). These natural stable isotopes are vastly cheaper than the artificially made and radioactive tritium.

SOURCES – Wikipedia, The Estimation of Helium-3 Probably Reserves in Lunar Regolith [Lunar and Planetary Science XXXVIII], nuclear weapons archive

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