Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Private Space Companies

  1. Mar 9, 2011 #1
    Are they the future of outerspace? Will they be reliable and take us further than what NASA was able to?

    I also don't understand how private companies have commercial interest in something that is so expensive. Can someone explain how they will profit?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 9, 2011 #2
    Who knows what could happen in the future?

    As for profits of companies, observe that a profit is simply a net surplus in funds after your transaction.
    For a concrete example, although building any kind of a spaceship takes millions, Virgin Galactic (a pioneering private space company) recoups by charging $200k per seat. Of course this means that their only customers are the rich.

    One thing for sure, though. Until mankind invents a much better type of propulsion to move through space, it stays in the hands of the government and the very wealthy.
  4. Mar 9, 2011 #3
    So the future of space exploration looks pretty bleak...
  5. Mar 9, 2011 #4
    Not at all. It's only a matter of time until we discover the way. :smile:
  6. Mar 10, 2011 #5
    A matter of how much time is the question.

    I feel very nervous of the future of space exploration.

    How can private companies make profit of things comparable to the hubble telescope? I feel that our knowledge of space might slow down.
  7. Mar 10, 2011 #6
    if we could figure out an effective way to travel between here and the moon private firms could profit from helium3. there is enough helium3 on the moon to provide earth with 100% clean power for a thousand years at our current power consumption increase rate.
  8. Mar 10, 2011 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Except for the fact that we havn't been able to get Fusion Power up and running even with the best fuel yet. Hopefully soon though!!
  9. Mar 10, 2011 #8


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    This doesn't look like physics to me, nor is it about engineering or technology per se. General Discussion?
  10. Mar 10, 2011 #9
    A great book on this subject is "Mining the Sky" by John Lewis. He points out that one small asteroid has rare metals worth more than the combined GDP's of the US and China. So the economics of space industry are compelling, but someone will have to make a big push and spend a lot of resources to get out there. Given China's huge need for rare metals and their ability to engineer large scale projects successfully, they seem like the most likely candidate to me. At this point the USA seems pretty broken when it comes to long-term engineering projects like this, but a new space race could change the situation.
  11. Mar 11, 2011 #10
    Seems pretty interesting... still the future of space exploration seems pretty bleak. Its like we came to a halt after the first man on the moon. And I don't mean just mining asteroids for their rare metals. But I guess it is a start seeing as how its so expensive get people in escape velocity of the gravitational pull from Earth.

    Though, we really need to work on a cheaper alternative at escaping Earth's gravitational pull. I like the idea of the space elevator. Hopefully it works out..

    Private space companies in the US as of now are the future of space exploration (in the US). This involves the future of physics, engineering, and technology.
  12. Mar 11, 2011 #11


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    First, no one answered the OP's initial question: by and large, commercial spaceflight ventures make money by launching stuff into orbit for NASA or for other companies.

    Typically that last phrase implies the economics are FAVORABLE, but even if there were mountain sized platinum coated diamonds in orbit it would be nowhere near economical to mine them.

    There is a lot of wishful thinking that goes on about space travel, but that's not reality.
  13. Mar 11, 2011 #12
    Really? I'd be curious to see the calculations you made to arrive at this conclusion.
  14. Mar 14, 2011 #13
    Im pretty sure that was sarcasm. mining an asteroid seems a little far fetched. i wouldent consider that possible until we were well established on the moon.
  15. Mar 14, 2011 #14
    What exactly do you mean by being well-established on the moon?

    Do you mean establishing space firms on the moon?
  16. Mar 14, 2011 #15
    i mean a largely self sufficient permanent human presence on the moon.
  17. Mar 14, 2011 #16


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    It was only half sarcastic, but it has actually been a while since I've checked the math on it. Launching an object into space has for a very long time been estimated at $10,000 a pound and not adjusted for inflation (and returning an object a similar cost), but at current platinum prices ($28,000 / lb), you could bring platinum back from low earth orbit for a profit. A more realistic scenario of mining it from the moon increases the cost by an order of magnitude and makes it uneconomical. An asteroid is of course even worse.

    Diamonds are actually much more valuable, but they are so scarce, especially at larger sizes, that a new large supply of diamonds would vastly reduce their value. So I don't think it is useful to try to calculate. The same is true but to a much lesser extent for precious metals.
  18. Mar 14, 2011 #17
    Its interesting enough but how can we sustain enough water and food on the moon?
  19. Mar 14, 2011 #18

    an efficient way to purify used water. of course their will still be a small percentage of water wasted. ice can be found in craters, on the moon, untouched by sunlight. before food can be grown you would need a relatively large habitable area. the most practical would be digging into the surface of the moon and sealing the underground rooms with a type of non permeable paint. having a permanent settlement on the moon is very doable. achieving escape velocity to reach the moon is the only drawback. burning fuel to get into outer space is costly, but other ways are being researched. if you have ever herd of a rail gun(http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/12/10/navy-railgun-shoots-bullets-electromagnet/), the same concept can be applied to lift resources into space. it would need to be over a mile long so you could still reach a couple thousand miles an hour without harming the human occupants. the burning of thrusters would still be necessary but the rail accelerator will be taking on most of the work.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  20. Mar 14, 2011 #19
    Interesting, but what about getting hit by things from outer space? The moon has no atmosphere, its full of craters for a reason.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  21. Mar 14, 2011 #20
    getting hit by things in outer space is inevitable. it is a problem whether we are on the moon or orbiting earth. its something that we have always had to chance. the odds of a direct hit by an object are very minimal.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Private Space Companies
  1. Private Messages (Replies: 50)

  2. Private Messages (Replies: 25)

  3. Company rules (Replies: 15)