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Plans for asteroid mining

by thorium1010
Tags: asteroids, google, mining space, ross perot
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thorium1010
#1
Apr24-12, 02:38 PM
P: 200
Is it worth spending billions for some technology for deep mining in space. Isn't it easier to bring those asteroids to earth and then mine it here on earth.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17827347
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Higgs Boson
#2
Apr24-12, 02:39 PM
P: 10
--- http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-0...or-metals.html ---

It's an interesting article that apparently indicates a lot of big money backing about to be thrown at the problem.

Of course, imho at least, few of them have attempted to do the math ... while thankfully others among us have:

--- http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/...why-not-space/ ---

Open for discussion, but imho there are more pressing needs and better ways to spend the money at the moment.
Astronuc
#3
Apr24-12, 02:44 PM
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Quote Quote by thorium1010 View Post
Is it worth spending billions for some technology for deep mining in space. Isn't it easier to bring those asteroids to earth and then mine it here on earth.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17827347
There's the matter of slowing it down and bringing it to the ground intact.

Containment
#4
Apr24-12, 04:37 PM
P: 18
Plans for asteroid mining

I have a feeling that at first and probably for a long time mining the asteroids will not be "worth it" however the technology developed to do such a thing probably will be more likely to be. Kinda like how going to the moon was not really "worth it" but the technology gained in doing so was more or less.
Ryan_m_b
#5
Apr24-12, 05:16 PM
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I'll believe it when I see it. Sounds like a PR stunt to me, especially the projections of just a few decades ahead. Bear in mind the astronomical (pun intended) cost of the Apollo project just to get a brace of men on the Moon. I can't see a collection of companies wanting to spend the necessary tens of billions of dollars for decades on something that wont really pay off. I say wont really because economically they could invest those billions elsewhere to achieve their goals cheaper and more efficiently. There are plenty of recycling or mining technologies that could be developed and give far greater results.

Going to space to a large extent is ideological. There is really no good economical argument.
wuliheron
#6
Apr24-12, 05:30 PM
P: 1,967
It's pretty clear their only real intention for now is to survey asteroids for their potential mineral contents, and the assumption is that future technology will make the venture cost effective. That's a pretty standard practice. For example, the US and the Russians surveyed Afghanistan for its minerals estimated at over a trillion dollars in value despite the fact no one has figured out to ship them from the land locked country. As prices go up and technology improves, so does the viability of shipping over longer distances. That's just how long term planning works in these modern times where technology advances so fast it would be foolish not to take such things into account when talking about ventures decades in the future. With the kind of money and influence involved in this one you can be sure the government will support them as well.
jim hardy
#7
Apr24-12, 05:47 PM
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I'll believe it when I see it. Sounds like a PR stunt to me, especially the projections of just a few decades ahead.
I'm old enough to remember Howard Hughes' "Glomar Explorer", a cover story for deep ocean venture. The stated purpose was to pick up exotic mineral nodules from seafloor but what they were actually after was a Russian ballistic missile sub sunk out past Hawaii someplace.

What can you hide on an asteroid? Have we already lost something out there?

Where's our poster nsaspook?
D H
#8
Apr24-12, 06:15 PM
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Quote Quote by Higgs Boson View Post
Of course, imho at least, few of them have attempted to do the math ... while thankfully others among us have:

--- http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/...why-not-space/ ---
There are always naysayers. Sometimes those naysayers are right. There's no future in tulip bulbs. But more often than not they are very wrong. Sailing to the Americas is a waste of money. There's a world market for maybe five computers. There's no money to be made on the internet.

Open for discussion, but imho there are more pressing needs and better ways to spend the money at the moment.
Since it's private money at stake here, it's really none of your business.

Most of these new space startups will fail. That's the nature of startups. A few won't, and they'll make a killing. That's also the nature of startups.
Jimmy Snyder
#9
Apr24-12, 06:26 PM
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Quote Quote by D H View Post
But more often than not they (naysayers) are very wrong.
...
Most of these new space startups will fail.
So which is it? Most succeed or most fail?
Office_Shredder
#10
Apr24-12, 07:12 PM
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Quote Quote by Jimmy Snyder View Post
So which is it? Most succeed or most fail?
Most fail, but the claim that nobody will succeed is wrong.
Jimmy Snyder
#11
Apr24-12, 08:12 PM
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These guys could save a lot of money on rocket fuel by just camping out in Evo's back yard.
Ryan_m_b
#12
Apr25-12, 02:31 AM
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Quote Quote by D H View Post
Sailing to the Americas is a waste of money.
I was hoping our resident space expert would see this thread I agree with you on the general point that we don't really know what tomorrow will bring but regarding this specific point about the Americas (I know you didn't mean it how I am responding to it but it's an interesting point).

I frequently encounter space enthusiasts (I use that term to mean people who grew up idealising John Wood Campbell stories and counting the days until they can move to Martian Domed City One) who compare manned exploration/colonisation of space to the settlement of the Americas. It's an attractive analogy but a deeply flawed one IMO. The cost of building a wooden sailing ship was negligable for a European nation. They also had free life support on the journey, a working ecology when they arrived and their technology base was primitive enough that a few hundred people could fufill the roles prevelant in society. Whatever the future of manned space travel is it will not ressemble this at all.
Bararontok
#13
Apr25-12, 03:53 AM
P: 298
How will the probes send the large quantity of materials back to Earth? Because the news journals do not specify how this will be done.

Sources:

http://www.businessweek.com/news/201...ids-for-metals

http://news.yahoo.com/asteroid-minin...011205183.html
wuliheron
#14
Apr25-12, 04:01 AM
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Quote Quote by jim hardy View Post
I'm old enough to remember Howard Hughes' "Glomar Explorer", a cover story for deep ocean venture. The stated purpose was to pick up exotic mineral nodules from seafloor but what they were actually after was a Russian ballistic missile sub sunk out past Hawaii someplace.

What can you hide on an asteroid? Have we already lost something out there?

Where's our poster nsaspook?
That's a good point. A large number of rocket launches would require some kind of explanation to avoid escalating a new arms race. The X37 has been in orbit for over a year now without the public having the slightest clue what it is doing. The Pentagon is soliciting designs for disposable on-demand satellites, working on rocket designs to replace even the Saturn V, etc. while NASA scales back everything. I'd have to say it's pretty obvious the US government is more interested in dominating orbital space at this point then exploration.
Ryan_m_b
#15
Apr25-12, 04:10 AM
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Quote Quote by Office_Shredder View Post
the claim that nobody will succeed is wrong.
That can only be established after the fact. The claim that nobody could succeed is different, all you have to do to falsify that is show that the science and technology are physically possible. Whether or not there will ever be a group that has a motive, will, means and resources is another matter.
russ_watters
#16
Apr25-12, 05:39 AM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
I'll believe it when I see it. Sounds like a PR stunt to me....
I'll believe it when I see it. Sounds like arrogance to me.
russ_watters
#17
Apr25-12, 05:42 AM
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Quote Quote by Office_Shredder View Post
Most fail, but the claim that nobody will succeed is wrong.
I'm still waiting for the first to succeed! SpaceX is almost there, but as cool as it is that they have nearly reached their goal of becoming the first commercial space flight company, it is also a long, long way from being able to mine an asteroid. Just don't make the mistake of believing that if an internet billionaire can get a satellite into space that they can therefore mine an asteroid. They are nowhere close to equivalent tasks. Relative to that, the Spacex guys are just kids playing in a sandbox.
Ryan_m_b
#18
Apr25-12, 05:49 AM
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Quote Quote by russ_watters View Post
I'll believe it when I see it. Sounds like arrogance to me.
Indeed, have you seen some of the timescales floating around?
Quote Quote by BBC Article
They even aim to create a fuel depot in space by 2020...
...The inaugural step, to be achieved in the next 18 to 24 months, would be launching the first in a series of private telescopes that would search for asteroid targets rich in resources...
...The intention will be to open deep-space exploration to private industry...
...Within five to 10 years, however, the company expects to progress from selling observation platforms in orbit around Earth to prospecting services.
Not only that but apparently the budget is only in the range of millions. Considering the long development struggle that private companies have had even to launch to LEO such figures are optimistic to the point of stupidity. Having said that I'm not ruling out the idea that one day a company might put into orbit some probes that periodically foray out to chip away at nearby asteroids but definitely not within these time scales without orders of magnitude more finnancial commitment (which begs the question why not spend that money on more efficient means of achieving the goals i.e. recycling/mining on Earth).


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