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Asteroid mining about to become reality?

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http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/mimss.../27776/?ref=rss

 

Technology Review:

On Tuesday, a new company called Planetary Resources will announce its existence at the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery at The Museum of Flight in Seattle. It's not clear what the firm does, but its roster of backers incudes Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, filmmaker James Cameron, former Microsoftie (and space philanthropist) Charles Simonyi, and Ross Perot Jr., son of the former presidential candidate.

 

According to the company's press release (below):

 

[...] the company will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of ‘natural resources’.

 

That sounds like asteroid mining. Because what else is there in space that we need here on earth? Certainly not a livable climate or a replacement for our dwindling supplies of oil.

 

 

I want this to be true more than I can possibly say. If they really are going to mine the 'roids, each and every one of them is going to be trillionaires - but they may get close to broke getting there.

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I've always thought mining/resource gathering would be the reason we opened up proper avenues to space. We're running short of resources and eventually we'll run short of everything... but there's a whole solar system out there. Done right it could be run at fairly low energy usage (travel time would be high, but energy expenditure low). They may need to throw in a space elevator and that minimizes resources used to get things up and down, and of course then you'd have to build a space dockyard where you can build and maintain vehicles and... *ahem*. Yes, it's something I find very cool.

 

*EDIT* But yes, even with trillions of dollars behind it, it'll take decades to get working and a half million speed bumps and a few dozen utter disasters before it gets to a place of profitability and practicality.

Edited by tantryl

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If only our earth resources and 'roids respawned every day like in Eve. ;{D

Well, to make up for it a bit, there are a LOT more 'roids in the Sol system than in any EVE.

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This would be cool.

 

It will cost a lot to get there and start the mining process, though the returns could / would be massive, and eventually enough resources coming back to earth that wealth will pay for itself.

 

Then in hundreds of years humans (if any ET life exists) are see as locusts of space devouring all the resources! EPIC SPACE BATTLES!

Edited by Genders

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Moon rocks are closer :)

Even closer is extraction of hydrogen and other fuel gasses from the upper atmosphere (not sure if that is cost/energy budget effective though).

Also if you consider energy a natural resource, then there are plenty of orbital and near-orbital energy collection technologies being touted.

 

Of course once you go beyond earth (or perhaps's its orbit), it's not really 'global' any more. Imports usually aren't part of your 'production' (GDP).

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James Cameron is one of the most experienced deep sea divers on the planet, so might have something to contribute more than just money?

That was the reason his name got an underlining, rather than just bold. Even if he has no expertise to bring to the table, he has buckets of imagination and determination. And money, of course, but everyone on that list has that.

 

They should get Richard Branson on board - he's half way there already.

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*BUMPITY*

 

Oh, cool!

 

Hot diggity dawg! Somehow, I don't think I'll be getting the job, but I sure would be more than willing to sign up for that mining crew.

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This is an epoch-jump happening here, I've waited for this since I remember starting to think. I'm just really happy it at least started while I'm in this life.

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Moon rocks are closer :)

But the buggers are at the bottom of a Gravity Well which is expensive to escape. Also not sure on the actual mineral content of the average moon rock. From memory Asteroids are very high in mineral content and Wiki suggests the same.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteroid_mining

With Asteroids yes you have a fair way to go to get to most of them, but once they, or the minerals mined from them, are given a shove on to a near earth trajectory they can be pretty much left to themselves till they get close enough to slow down and "park".

Bit worried about the Wiki entry titled "Self-replicating machines", smacks too much of the Replicators from SG1.

:P

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All here:

 

Planetary Resources

 

They have a plan. There's a jobs board. A space telescope and a version of that with propulsion to reach asteroids that swing by us.

 

Then close asteroid analysis.

 

Then sustainable propulsion sourcing, water, before the riches.

 

Efficient. All about taking the rich easy stuff, but not before figuring out getting the water-is-fuel stage sorted so we have an operable infrastructure.

 

Lovely and real.

 

Don't mock it cyber, you cold, blind, know-it-all cynical child, see the immense evolution that it is. This is wonderful and important.

Edited by Flouncy

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Don't mock it cyber, you cold, blind, know-it-all cynical child, see the immense evolution that it is. This is wonderful and important.

I wasn't mocking it.

 

Ahh, sorry then. I read your comment as a bit of a no big deal towards it all, that you were just saying 'here come the corporates again'... it's just so exciting!

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I think we were supposed to be here in the 80's, according to early NASA timetables. Bloody Asian 'wars'.

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Ooohhh... And here's what Neil DeGrasse Tyson has to say about it: http://www.edgeonthenet.com/technology/sci...s_it_worth_it?_

 

Sorry, no embedding.

I prefer his take on it on The Daily Show. You have to proxy/fake a US IP address to see it, short story shorter, Jon introduces a new segment called "Bulls#*t or no bulls#*t with Neil DeGrasse Tyson", Tyson walks out with an unsolved rubix cube and is fiddling with it, Jon asks if the story is bullshit, Neil says "Jon, in this case the answer is 'no bulls#*t'. And you know Jon, the Earth in your credits is still rotating the wrong way" then places the now solved rubix cube down, and leaves.

 

Although I liked "Many of them, all the materials, have already been segregated for us... segregated being a good term in this context... uh huh huh".

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**Necromancy**

 

Well, it looks like this private space industry thing is starting to heat up. First SpaceX and Virgin Galactic announced their intentions to handle private launches, then that mindblowing news about asteroid mining, and now this:

 

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/11/sp..._space_station/

 

SpaceX has signed a partnership deal with Bigelow Aerospace (BA) to offer a taxi service to and from the inflatable habitats BA intends to put into orbit.

 

A SpaceX representative told El Reg that it expect to be ready for manned flight by 2015, and commercial services would start shortly afterwards.

 

Bigelow is partnering with SpaceX to work with its BA 330 module, an inflatable habitat based on NASA technology that can hold around six astronauts in relative comfort. The Nevadan company, set up by Robert Bigelow, founder of the Budget Suite hotel chain, has had two test facilities in orbit for years and now appears ready to move into commercial operation.

...

The BA 330 is the latest design from Bigelow, giving 330 square meters of habitat when fully inflated. The walls of the shelter are made up of eight layers of materials designed to offer better defense for occupants, and Bigelow claims it offers full radiation protection and better micrometeorite safety than the International Space Station's rigid walls.

...

Despite the origins of the Bigelow fortune, the company is not interested in offering package holidays in space. Instead it wants to link BA 330 modules in orbit and lease out space to businesses and scientists looking to work in microgravity. The two companies are going to focus their sales efforts on Asia at first.

Read the linked article for the full story - and a couple of pictures.

 

Hot damn but this is an interesting time to be alive!

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