Following the discovery of what it calls Changesite on the Moon, China has announced three additional uncrewed missions in the coming decade. Changesite-(Y) is a phosphate mineral said to contain helium-3, a potential future fuel source.
International Mineralogical Association has approved the name of a new mineral (Changesite 嫦娥石) discovered in the Chang'e-5 lunar soil one day before the Mid-Autumn Festival #CNSApic.twitter.com/oprBGkwhBC
Crew-free missions to the Moon are no problem for science fiction writers, who have anticipated the problem of remote mining on the moon.
"Meet Rachel Lief," Lunan said. "Ms. Lief is a bulldozer driver." Lunan paused for effect. "As you see, Ms. Lief doesn't look like your typical tractor driver..."
"But then," Lunan said, "not every bulldozer operator works on the Moon." The cameras followed the trim woman into another room, where there was a replica of a large tractor. It was surrounded by TV screens. One screen showed an astronaut sitting in the driver's seat, staring impatiently into the screen. A bleak, nearly colorless pit showed over his left shoulder.
"About time you got here," the astronaut said.
"We were busy," Rachel sat down in the driver's seat and took hold of the controls. "I relieve you..."
The bulldozer moved through the lunar strip mine...
(Read more about Pournelle and Niven's telepresence bulldozer from Oath of Fealty)
More recently, sf movie fans recall the excellent 2009 movie Moon has some great scenes involving massive autonomous lunar excavators that are exactly what is prototyped by the engineers depicted in the above video. Here's a picture from the movie version of the Moon; take a look at the Moon movie trailer below.
(Lunar excavator from Moon movie trailer)
Sam Rockwell does yeoman's work in this striking film: