Unearthing Futures

Exploring the future of lunar mining with young people


Immersive experience


Imperial College London Department of Earth Sciences



What if members of the public could inform long term science policy governance?

To explore this question we focussed on the future of lunar mining. It’s a small field of scientific research that is yet to lodge itself in the hearts and minds of the general public. But researchers like our collaborator Dr. Kathryn Hadler are already looking ahead 30 years and working on space mining solutions.

Who has rights to the moon? How should profit from lunar resources be distributed? What if space mining could reform or replace mining on earth? How should our colonial histories inform our approach to other planets? These are all questions that require future facing and values based decision making, but are currently seen as problems for future generations to worry about. We wanted to explore how to stimulate societal debate and derive policy relevant insights ahead of time.

We made four immersive scenarios for the future of space mining

To tackle these questions we formed a network of 15 space sector experts from around the globe. Through interviews and workshops we established 19 drivers of change affecting the sector and created 4 provocative scenarios to explore possible futures of space mining.

We then developed each scenario into a narrative audio experience in order to spark debate, to be provocative and to frame a lively conversation around some of the key societal risks and tradeoffs in each of these stories.

Seeding a larger public discourse around space governance

We continue to run events using the audio experiences to start conversations about the future of the moon. These have included a talk series with Imperial College London, and sessions at the UK Students Space conference where we engaged young space enthusiasts to think critically about the future of their discipline.

Our ambition is to continue to scale this project into different forms and formats, in order to inform a wider public discourse around space governance.

“Loved it - a very unique and inspiring experience. I wish it would scale up in the future to more diverse and broader audience.”

Workshop participant

“At the end I had different, more interesting and more nuanced ideas and was pleasantly surprised about what we came up with.”

Workshop participant

“The idea of different scenarios was a very good approach for a complex and in some parts uncertain subject like space mining.”

Workshop participant
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