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Asteroid mining about to become reality?

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Good idea mining asteroids but still many hurdles to even make it succeed. Not only that we must keep Rimmer and Lister from joining the ship.

 

To even mine a asteroid it would have to be a huge ship unless they put it in Orbit around the moon. Then we need a mining base on the moon.

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Wow really? How about this for instance: strap some solid boost rockets to a small(10-15 meter) asteroid, they don't need to be big just enough for it to get it to start moving on the desired trajectory. They also dont even need to be quick. Than put it into a stable trajectory aimed at orbiting earth.

 

Once you have the rock orbiting stability in earth orbit strap a couple of more rockets and a parachute onto the rock.

 

Drop it in a slow controlled descent trajectory and let it enter the atmosphere then slow it down with a parachute.

 

Now i know this is a very simplistic description and to put it in practice would require quite a bit more thought but in reality the steps have all been done before in various different space missions(except for putting a boost rocket on an asteroid and pushing it back to earth. But an example of this would be bringing back small probes with cometary dust particles.)

 

Now you work out how to do that on a large scale over a long period of time and you can really see the potential. Say having 10-20 robotic spacecraft fitting the small booster rockets that are automated and a group of people on the ground coordinating the trajectories you could easily see 1-2 a week roids dropping out of the sky to start with and that growing exponentially with the introduction of more advanced robot spacecraft.

Edited by wraith676

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Wow really? How about this for instance: strap some solid boost rockets to a small(10-15 meter) asteroid, they don't need to be big just enough for it to get it to start moving on the desired trajectory. They also dont even need to be quick. Than put it into a stable trajectory aimed at orbiting earth.

 

Once you have the rock orbiting stability in earth orbit strap a couple of more rockets and a parachute onto the rock.

 

Drop it in a slow controlled descent trajectory and let it enter the atmosphere then slow it down with a parachute.

You got the first part about right - alternative methods for propulsion can be argued (nukes, sails, even just paint). The second part, though... I've never read any argument for asteroid mining which involves deorbiting the rock before. I suspect that bit is Difficult - and extremely hazardous for any 'roid big enough to warrant retrieving.

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From what I understand they were planning to set up processing on our moon, and will "push" asteroids towards it which are within our range to retrieve or intercept. I don't think they have plans for any Earth based processing of raw minerals, only refinement of precious metals.

 

If I've been keeping up with their press releases correctly, they plan on extracting oxygen and hydrogen in the form of water from the asteroids (and icebergs*). They can use both of these for air supply, fuel and water all at once, using solar plants to generate power (without the ozone layer solar is more viable apparently) should Hydrogen supply become low.

 

It's a pretty viable idea from what I can gather. There is an abundance of water out there in the solar system, so human life is very sustainable should we develop the technology to travel more efficiently. Obviously starting this venture is the hardest part, just like the settlement of colonies from England, France and Spain had their struggles. Setting up the moon base will be the hardest part, though underneath the moon dust is apparently solid rock which can be cut into brick to house the first power generators etc (not suitable for human dwelling). Once they can generate power on the moon, they can fuel a larger workforce, and start building life support systems for humans.

 

They want the moon to eventually be a small human colony, with fully-working foundries and processing plants (mostly robotic). The idea behind this is launching objects from the moon surface (building new probes and retrieval devices) is far easier once a moon base is established, than constantly launching from Earth.

 

It's super sci-fi at the moment, but it's pretty damned exciting :)

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It's super sci-fi at the moment, but it's pretty damned exciting :)

The best "hard" sci-fi: all extrapolation from known possibles - given sufficient time and funding, it's all just engineering. And hell yeah it's exciting! I'm trying to keep it damped down, though, because the disappointment would be crushing if I didn't and then they didn't go ahead with it.

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I've long thought that a Moonbase is really something we should be going for. We have the technology! The biggest technical hurdle is moondust, which combines all the worst possible aspects of dust and sand.

 

Makes me want to go rewatch Moon.

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Kinda looks and feels like the old space series called "SPACE 1999" . Just hope no explosions blow the moon out of orbit.

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You are indeed correct Uncle, i was just suggesting how you could go about delivering an asteroid to earth as an example with the engineering knowhow we have today.

 

As for deorbiting an asteroid well there probably isn't very many arguments out there for it but it would be easier(not to say it still wouldn't be challenging) to do then what NASA recently did with the new rover on mars. And to be honest i don't see that it would be all that dangerous either if it was monitored correctly.

 

As for the moon idea it still probably would not be an ideal processing location due to a lack of atmosphere so you would not be able to use it for deceleration of an object. There may be ways around that though, slow impact collisions with the surface?

 

However setting the moon up as a giant fuel dump, well that is something that is definitely going to be needed if we are ever going to have sustainable growth in the space industry. Someone is going to have to start getting fuel off planet before anything substantial can happen in space exploration. Its just too expensive to launch fuel from earth to orbit.

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It's super sci-fi at the moment, but it's pretty damned exciting :)

The best "hard" sci-fi: all extrapolation from known possibles - given sufficient time and funding, it's all just engineering. And hell yeah it's exciting! I'm trying to keep it damped down, though, because the disappointment would be crushing if I didn't and then they didn't go ahead with it.

 

I agree, it would be crushing if it falls through, but looking at their team of engineers, their advisers and the investors behind this company, it's hard to imagine everyone calling it quits and closing the company down if it all becomes too difficult. There are huge incentives for all parties involved.

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Maybe they could build a ship on the asteroid ,or even around it and pilot to where they need process the asteroid. Could be like a Mining and crushing ore site then compact the ore into sections of the ship.

Edited by codecreeper

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But they don't need to do that, as in space the object can travel indefinitely in the pushed direction (assuming it doesn't collide with another object or enter a gravitational field). There are far cheaper ways to move things around space than by building a space ship around the asteroid.

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So momentum is the key to this project. If we open a can of pressured air in space that will propel us forward and keep moving us faster forward ,but to get more speed we need to expel more air to get higher speeds in space.

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Ben Bova did most of the planning in his Asteroid Wars series (ongoing, and part of the wider Grand Tour collection).

Luna looks like the best processing station, inflatable habitats just reek of fail.

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From what I understand they were planning to set up processing on our moon, and will "push" asteroids towards it which are within our range to retrieve or intercept.

I still have real issues with that bit. Why drop the Asteroid down to the bottom of a gravity well from which the extracted products have to be pushed out of again at great expense (even with the moons lower gravity). Surely it would be better to mine and at least partially refine in Earth orbit?

Then it is a straight gravity drop to Earths surface.

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I still have real issues with that bit. Why drop the Asteroid down to the bottom of a gravity well from which the extracted products have to be pushed out of again at great expense (even with the moons lower gravity). Surely it would be better to mine and at least partially refine in Earth orbit?

Then it is a straight gravity drop to Earths surface.

Indeed. And that's the model I exclusively heard until about 20 years ago. I think the consensus has moved to a lunar perspective because of two things:

1. Shit getting loose in orbit is bad. Crushing those rocks or even boiling off slag would end up making travel in that orbit resemble flying through a supersonic sandstorm - where than sand grains are actually microexplosives.

2. If things are done under gravity, we can basically just transplant current plant designs. Doing things in freefall requires a lot of rethinking of plant design. You can't just use conveyor belts, for example. And I'm pretty sure you can't even rely on slag floating to the top of your molten ore, either - not unless you have a mass large enough to make its own gravity (but then you have the same problem, as well as some seriously impressive engineering).

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I still have real issues with that bit. Why drop the Asteroid down to the bottom of a gravity well from which the extracted products have to be pushed out of again at great expense (even with the moons lower gravity). Surely it would be better to mine and at least partially refine in Earth orbit?

Then it is a straight gravity drop to Earths surface.

Indeed. And that's the model I exclusively heard until about 20 years ago. I think the consensus has moved to a lunar perspective because of two things:

1. Shit getting loose in orbit is bad. Crushing those rocks or even boiling off slag would end up making travel in that orbit resemble flying through a supersonic sandstorm - where than sand grains are actually microexplosives.

2. If things are done under gravity, we can basically just transplant current plant designs. Doing things in freefall requires a lot of rethinking of plant design. You can't just use conveyor belts, for example. And I'm pretty sure you can't even rely on slag floating to the top of your molten ore, either - not unless you have a mass large enough to make its own gravity (but then you have the same problem, as well as some seriously impressive engineering).

 

Just wonder how gravitational forces will affect this idea. If it passes a Sun or Moon ,even close to a Black Hole it would stray off course.

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Just wonder how gravitational forces will affect this idea. If it passes a Sun or Moon ,even close to a Black Hole it would stray off course.

??

 

The solar system is a pretty well-known place in terms of gravitational topology - a few thousand solar masses worth of black hole is unlikely to be lurking around between the 'belt and ourselves.

 

And WTF are you talking about, really? "Getting near the moon?" They would be HEADED for Luna ON PURPOSE! The sun? That's a looooooong way past where they should be going if you're using a rapid orbit, and a maximum-efficiency transfer orbit would actually use Sol to get the thing here.

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Just wonder how gravitational forces will affect this idea. If it passes a Sun or Moon ,even close to a Black Hole it would stray off course.

??

 

The solar system is a pretty well-known place in terms of gravitational topology - a few thousand solar masses worth of black hole is unlikely to be lurking around between the 'belt and ourselves.

 

And WTF are you talking about, really? "Getting near the moon?" They would be HEADED for Luna ON PURPOSE! The sun? That's a looooooong way past where they should be going if you're using a rapid orbit, and a maximum-efficiency transfer orbit would actually use Sol to get the thing here.

 

 

i thought you where talking about asteroids from other solar systems.

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