The Great Lunar War of 2023-2024: Helium-3, Surface Area & Solar Supremacy

October 16 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Energy   Year: Beyond   Rating: 2

A soft future fiction scenario.

By 2020 space had become an unexpectedly crowded place. Catalyzed by evolutionary shuttle design systems, increasingly capable robotics, and super-efficient solar cell technology, mankind’s Space Reach had expanded considerably. Orbital tourism had exploded, asteroid mining efforts were in their early stages, extra-terrestrial solar harvesting had become the new rage and the race to dominate the extensive lunar Helium 3 reserves (a critical step toward the seemingly inevitable construction of a Dyson Sphere) was on.

On April 1, 2021 the first lunar construction bots, assembled in orbit using scattered material from the McMullen Asteroid Incident of 2018, and sent forth by private company LunaFacia, parachuted to down to the moon. - Sure, it’s impossible due to lack of atmosphere, but please suspend your disbelief for the moment. ;)

Controlled by a mix of on-board AI algorithms and remote instruction from “pilots” orbiting the moon in private spacecraft, the multitude of Lunar Bots quickly deployed arrays of fold-out solar cells across the surface of the four major Helium-3 sites. It soon became clear that LunaFacia, a Chinese-funded venture, was systematically laying down the infrastructure for an extensive mining and nuclear energy operation.

Of course, the play to dominate lunar Helium-3 did not sit well with the United States and the Russian Federation, the #2 and #3 world economies, and so they formalized the secret Greiner-Blashinsky Lunar Surface Pact and commenced collaborative construction of a similar solar droid army.

By mid-2022 the Russo-American bot forces had claimed 11% of Helium-3 surface area. By 2023, as the brightness of the moon continued to diminished, that number had climbed to 23%. Then, in August of that year, with all critical surface area spoken for, that figure peaked at 27%.

Frantic negotiations commenced, but the Chinese would not back down from their dominant position. The Americans and Russians sued through the World Court and United nations, but both bodies determined that they did not possess the necessary jurisdiction to render verdicts or arbitration.

As the situation grew stale, the U.S. hawks finally got their way by cleverly placing a set of highly-armed defense bots in a contested zone, then setting them to auto-retaliation mode (a behavior that had long prior been banned back on Earth). It was an incident that would go down forever as “The Pulse Heard Around the Solar System”.

Reinforced by additional military bots that had been stockpiled in lunar orbiters, The Great Lunar War raged for three whole months as Earth-dwelling viewers watched the conflict online through the POV of private moon-based media bots. (Many older citizens said it greatly reminded of an ancient game called Starcraft.) It was finally brought to an end by the Lunar Treaty of 2024 which resulted in the cessation of all combat activities and, ultimately, a net loss of 7% of Helium-3 surface area and 39% of lunar production capacity for the U.S. and the Russians.

Amazingly, not a single human life had been lost, a fact that did not go unnoticed to governments and private organizations that now had been convinced to pour massive resources into additional asteroid mining and interplanetary operations.

Only time would tell whether any of the likely future conflicts would exceed the entertainment value of the Great Lunar War of 2023-2024, which everyone agreed was for sure the flat-out coolest war ever witnessed by human and robot observers alike.

Comment Thread (4 Responses)

  1. Uh Alvis?

    the first lunar construction bots … parachuted to down to the moon.

    How does that technology work, precisely?

    Real rocket scientists the world ‘round await that pronouncement with baited breath. :)

    I accept that S/F and Fantasy are often marketed together, but maybe we need a cautionary clause in the style guide regarding mixing of genre’s. Something along the lines of, “parachutes on the moon only work when attached to purple unicorns, who use them to give their poot! propulsion something to push against”, or the like.


    Posted by: Will   October 16, 2008
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  2. Yes, I understand there is no atmosphere on the moon, but that’s the image that I was working with. I’ll put in a note indicating that’s an impossible metaphor for landing.

    I agree that we’ll need to incorporate an italic section, either at beginning or the end that can serve as a Fact Checker, an element that I think would help alleviate incredulity and encourage factual evolution around fiction/sci-fi/the fantastic.

    Good points!

    Posted by: Alvis Brigis   October 16, 2008
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  3. I was just pulling your leg, Alvis. Don’t change a thing.


    Everybody knows unicorns use Rainbow Waves to get around.

    Space monkeys use poot! power, you silly.

    Posted by: Will   October 17, 2008
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  4. Even though you were jesting it still brings up a good point about the line between supported and unsupported fiction. I think it a good idea to henceforth encourage obvious distinctions. That will be useful.

    And please make your sarcasm a bit more obvious! :)

    Posted by: Alvis Brigis   October 17, 2008
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