Interlune, a startup founded by former Blue Origin employees, has raised $15.5 million to build and test equipment to extract lunar helium-3 (He-3).

During a private presentation, the company said it has developed a “revolutionary method of extracting” He-3 from lunar soil. To do this, the startup is building excavators that will autonomously extract He-3. However, no explanation is given as to how this material will be stored and transported to Earth.

The CEO of Interlune is Rob Meyerson, former president of Blue Origin. The startup’s team also includes a former Blue Origin chief architect and employees of Rocket Lab, BlackSky and Spaceflight Industries. The startup was founded three years ago, but only now it is known what it does.

Currently, helium-3 is not extracted from natural sources. It can only be obtained from the decay of artificially produced tritium.

There are large reserves of helium-3 on the Moon, which is contained in the topsoil. The very concept of helium-3 extraction on the Moon is not new, but previously it was considered something out of the realm of science fiction.

On Earth, helium-3 can be used to cool quantum computers and as fuel for fusion reactors.

Interlune plans to demonstrate helium-3 mining on the moon in 2026, with the first excavator expected to be operational in 2028. If all goes according to plan, the company could have annual revenues of $500 million by the beginning of the next decade.