Stealth Moon Startup 'Interlune' plans to mine Helium-3

A stealth startup led by former Blue Origin executives, is on a mission to mine helium-3 from the moon.


2/11/20242 min read

TechCrunch has uncovered information regarding Interlune, a clandestine venture led by former executives from Blue Origin, which has set its sights on extracting a rare isotope of helium from the moon. This isotope, helium-3 (He-3), holds promise for advancing quantum computing and potentially fueling fusion power. Recent regulatory filings indicate Interlune's successful closure of a $15.5 million funding round, adding to the $2.69 million raised in a pre-seed phase. The purpose of this capital influx has now come to light.

Confidential pitch decks from Interlune, dated spring 2022 and fall 2023 and obtained by TechCrunch, reveal the startup's intention to utilize the funding to develop and test equipment for harvesting lunar helium-3. Although Interlune declined to comment, the latest pitch deck mentions a revolutionary extraction technique for He-3 from lunar regolith. The startup aims to create scalable extraction facilities using sedan-sized extractors and complementary hardware, although specifics on storage and transportation remain undisclosed.

Unlike Earth, which is shielded from solar wind, the moon receives a direct bombardment of high-energy particles such as He-3. This stable isotope is primarily obtained on Earth through the decay of tritium, a synthetic element utilized in nuclear weaponry. Interlune anticipates a substantial surge in He-3 demand in various fields by 2040, estimating an annual demand of 4,000 kilograms compared to the current 5 kilograms. Fortunately, He-3 is abundant on the moon, presenting an opportunity for extraction.

While He-3 mining on the moon has been a theoretical possibility since the Apollo missions, technological limitations have hindered its realization. Interlune's pursuit of this endeavor aligns with the growing interest in lunar resource extraction, particularly He-3, fueled by its potential applications in fusion power and other industries. Moreover, China's involvement in He-3 extraction underscores the strategic importance of securing lunar resources, offering Interlune potential support from government agencies and defense-focused investors.

Interlune boasts a leadership team comprised of experienced space industry professionals, including CEO Rob Meyerson and CTO Gary Lai, both former executives at Blue Origin. The startup plans to demonstrate its technology on the moon by 2026, with a pilot extraction plant expected by 2028. If successful, Interlune anticipates substantial revenue generation, with projections reaching $500 million annually by the early 2030s.

However, Interlune faces significant financial and logistical challenges, including launch expenses, resource return partnerships, and hardware development costs. The economics of He-3 extraction, such as the cost per gram, remain uncertain. Nevertheless, if Interlune achieves its goals, it will occupy a unique position in the burgeoning space resource extraction industry, distinct from competitors focused solely on in-space applications or mineral extraction.