Hostility hots up over lunar ice

12.05.25: TWO MARKET giants are prepared to go to war over who owns sub-surface ice on the moon.

The UN is investigating claims by Matra Marconi that its solar power arrays at the Clavius mining plant in the lunar southern hemisphere have been laser-charred by batteries on an orbital space platform operated by Mitsubishi-Kodaira.

Water ice can provide drinking water, oxygen and hydrogen for use as rocket fuel. "It's more valuable than gold dust," says Marius Gilmozzi, chief engineer at Clavius. "Whoever controls it controls the moon."

Last week the dispute between the two escalated when Mitsubishi-Kodaira blamed Matra Marconi for the "software bomb" that wreaked havoc at its Toyama headquarters. The Japanese company now says it was the work of a disgruntled employee. Matra Marconi threatened "retaliation" if its suspicions were confirmed.

UN observers say the evacuation of non-essential personnel from Clavius and from Mitsubishi's Tycho ilmenite plant is "extremely worrying".

War between the two could involve lunar and space-based laser batteries, particle-beam weapons and hypernuclear explosives.

"Now we are even exporting our petty wars to the moon," said Canon Richard Jolliffe of the Campaign for Lunar Disarmament. MC