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Thread: Asteroid mining

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    Asteroid mining

    There has been a lot of talk of mining in BEO over the last few years. Most of the comments has been it is just not economical to do so and will not be for a long time to come.

    This view is now being challenged by some American commercial companies.

    http://sputniknews.com/business/2015...021803194.html

    Asteroid mining may not be the stuff of sci-fi flicks for long, as one company prepares to launch its first exploratory satellite from the International Space Station in July.
    Planetary Resources is one of the companies hoping to strike it rich by mining the mineral resources of asteroids. And the company's Arkyd-3R — currently docked at the ISS — is ready for its first demonstration mission, an initial test that will lay the groundwork for future probes to start mining valuable resources on near earth asteroids (NEAs).
    Last edited by selvaarchi; 2015-May-07 at 11:17 AM.
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    IMO, asteroid mining is the likeliest candidate for killer app in space. Mined for stuff used on Earth or for actual space based solar energy and construction. Once there is an actual economic incentive to going BEO things will happen fast.

    It disappoints me that many space enthusiasts seem to think manned exploration and bases at the bottom of gravity wells are the priority and they hate NASA's Asteroid mission.

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    This is a pretty picked-over subject, do a quick search for past threads.
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    I fear for the future of asteroid mining after US Bureau of Mines decides that one must replant trees on all asteroids when mining is finished.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    This is a pretty picked-over subject, do a quick search for past threads.
    Most of the discussion before did not have "a set budget or set plans" to actually do something. We are now in a position where at least one company is putting their money on doing something instead of just talking about it.

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    Leaving aside inane comments about trees, I seriously doubt this will be the "killer app for space travel": people will start mining landfills and replacing materials, which will be very difficult or impossible for unsubsidized asteroid mining to compete against.

    And equally valid as the trees would be a statement about the asteroid companies, returning to their traditional treatment of employees, something which would have guys lining up for jobs here.
    Last edited by swampyankee; 2015-May-09 at 02:09 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    Most of the discussion before did not have "a set budget or set plans" to actually do something. We are now in a position where at least one company is putting their money on doing something instead of just talking about it.
    But it's only a drop in the bucket for what's needed.
    Arkyd-3 and Arkyd-6 are only nanosatellites that don't even have a propulsion unit. They are only testing the avionics for the Akryd-100 which is merely an Earth orbiting telescope. I only say "merely" because it's has nothing to do with asteroid mining technology or even rendezvous.

    Besides, this isn't even their money. It's being crowd funded. That could easily cause the bottom to fall out of their plans.

    This is all such a far cry from mining that it's almost not worth putting the two in the same discussion. The talk of space mining is in there to make their projects sound impressive.

    As far as DSI budgets, the contracts are only for studies in support of the NASA ARM program. Their only hardware concept is this "penny sized" communication craft. How can you accomplish mining with that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DukePaul View Post
    I fear for the future of asteroid mining after US Bureau of Mines decides that one must replant trees on all asteroids when mining is finished.
    But terraforming!

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    I do not think mining any asteriod or other space object will be possible until 2090 or later. big companies always have big plans that are in the pipeline. Maybe so, we don't yet have the tech or even the know how to mine. So how would you start to plan for such a mission????...

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    Quote Originally Posted by tor escort View Post
    I do not think mining any asteriod or other space object will be possible until 2090 or later. big companies always have big plans that are in the pipeline. Maybe so, we don't yet have the tech or even the know how to mine. So how would you start to plan for such a mission????...
    There's too much enabling technology required, not least of which is sufficiently closed environmental systems to permit crewed multi-year voyages, to make any kind of "plans," still less any kind of serious proposals.

    Long term blueprint?
    > develop those sufficiently-closed environmental systems. I can't come up with a realistic estimate of how long that would take. WAG? Minimum of ten years if you want a system roughly as safe as an 1890s coal mine.
    > develop propulsion systems that can provide high (enough) delta V's with low (enough) mass fractions to make voyages to the asteroid belt in less than a year routine and to make cargo transfers practical (I'm not talking about ore or smelted metals being sent from the mines; I'm referring to equipment going to them)
    > develop the legal framework to determine ownership of resources, enforce criminal and civil law, including (randists gasp in horror) protection of workers' rights (getting paid for your work is nice -- and check out the history of company towns to see what happens when those laws aren't in place and enforced. Or look up "industrial slavery.")

    This is all neglecting the need to show that alternatives aren't cheaper and more readily available. My opinion? No mining until well after there's a large, permanent, partly self-sufficient human presence in space.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tor escort View Post
    I do not think mining any asteriod or other space object will be possible until 2090 or later. big companies always have big plans that are in the pipeline. Maybe so, we don't yet have the tech or even the know how to mine. So how would you start to plan for such a mission????...
    Some of the technology will be developed by NASA for the ARM's mission.
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    NASA maybe developing the tech required, but how soon will they let anyone see it in action, or let anyone know about it???.. Look at the US's black projects, nothing is seen or known about them for years before those in the industry know never mind the general population...

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    Quote Originally Posted by tor escort View Post
    NASA maybe developing the tech required, but how soon will they let anyone see it in action, or let anyone know about it???.. Look at the US's black projects, nothing is seen or known about them for years before those in the industry know never mind the general population...
    The black projects are not NASA. They are military.
    The simple fact that we are seeing the progress of the development of this project says that it's not a dark project.

    Even if this technology is freely and immediately available, it's going to take a long time to progress to actual mining. The capture is a small asteroid and would need to be scaled up. And; this is only sampling. The mining technology and infrastructure for refining and/or deliver still need to be developed.
    All of that will take money. Lot's of it.

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    I wasn't saying NASA had or has black projects. I did mean military, but your not a mind reading are you.

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    The only time I can see space mining being viable is for space colonies. Mining out there for out there. Even then it will be more a subsidies system because getting a community to space and maintaining that community will almost always be much more expensive then just having that community here. Besides avoiding a massive global extinction event I can't see how going to space will be cheaper then doing it here on Earth. There are exceptions like putting things into space because they either can't be done on Earth or if they could would be much harder. The only thing I can come up with for that is telescopes at the moment. Disclaimer: I could, and very much likely will, be shown I'm wrong but for now....

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    Quote Originally Posted by WayneFrancis View Post
    The only time I can see space mining being viable is for space colonies. Mining out there for out there.
    Exactly.

    Even then it will be more a subsidies system because getting a community to space and maintaining that community will almost always be much more expensive then just having that community here. Besides avoiding a massive global extinction event I can't see how going to space will be cheaper then doing it here on Earth. There are exceptions like putting things into space because they either can't be done on Earth or if they could would be much harder. The only thing I can come up with for that is telescopes at the moment. Disclaimer: I could, and very much likely will, be shown I'm wrong but for now....
    Assuming an Earth-based business, you're right. Eventually, in the long run, space based industries and economies may be established for use outside the gravity well, making asteroid mining cheaper than sending stuff up from Earth; at the moment, however, there's no such thing, and no one living in space to benefit from it (ISS astronauts are visitors, not residents).
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    Planetary Resources gets its feet wet. It just launched a demonstration vehicle to test out components that the company later plans to send into deep space to visit resource-rich asteroids. It was launched from the ISS. The breadbox-sized Arkyd 3 Reflight (A3R) is so-named because the original Arkyd 3 died a fiery death in the Orbital Sciences explosion in October. This one survived its launch to the International Space Station in April, and today, astronauts booted it out of an airlock to see how it fares in low Earth orbit.

    Watch a 3 minute video on what they hope to do.

    http://www.popsci.com/asteroid-minin...-space-station

    Over the next 90 days or so, the little spacecraft will test out its avionics and control systems--it won't actually be doing any drilling anytime soon. While low Earth orbit isn’t a perfect facsimile to deep space, it will give the components a taste of the harsh environments they would face on the job—including extremely cold temperatures, radiation, and the vacuum of space. By pinpointing the components’ weaknesses in low Earth orbit, the company can hopefully fix any problems before sending spacecraft further beyond Earth.
    Last edited by selvaarchi; 2015-Jul-16 at 11:58 PM.

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    A 30 minute video from January 2013. Planetary Resources President/Chief Engineer (and former NASA scientist) Chris Lewicki presents his talk entitled, "Asteroid Mining: The Compelling Opportunity and What It Means For Mining On Earth, Today." Presented January 2013 at Cambridge House International's Vancouver Resource Investment Conference. http://www.cambridgehouse.com

    Well worth seeing.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duEzrOvSb98

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    Now a International Study Finds Global Benefits, Economic Gains From Mining Space Mineral Resources

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/pr...4,5,6,15,17,34

    The study, the most comprehensive to date, examined the latest technologies, economics, law and policy related to SMR opportunities and included several recommendations to space agencies and analysis of options to advance this exploration.

    "This study is not about how to leverage space mineral resources, but rather how best to leverage them," according to Art Dula, co-editor of the study and a faculty member of the Houston Law School where he teaches space law. Dula is also Trustee of the Heinlein Prize Trust, one of the organizations participating in the study. "Improving the world we know today will be possible by leveraging the phenomenal resources available in our solar system," he said.

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    A new bill now waiting for the US President signature to made into US law, will allow US companies to own the resources they extract from an asteroid.

    http://www.popsci.com/congress-appro...ce-mining-bill

    Before space mining companies invest too heavily in developing the technologies to pull minerals from asteroids, they want to be sure they'll be legally able to own the materials they extract. Probably they would if it went to court, but it's always helpful to have things in writing.

    The space mining provision that would start to define those rights is tacked onto a larger bill that deals with a lot of other issues regarding private space exploration--including who you're allowed to sue if you get hurt on a private spaceship.

    The Act would also renew the private spaceflight industry's "learning period," wherein regulations are relaxed in favor of encouraging growth. At the moment that grace period has already expired, and technically the FAA could begin regulating private spaceflight any day now--which is one reason why Congress wants to push the bill through quickly.

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    Now an article in this week's The Space Review questions the legality of that law.

    It is based on - how can a country confer rights to something that it does own.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3151/1

    "What is more complex than the commercialization of outer space? Is there legally identifiable real or personal property in outer space? Importantly, may you own property in outer space? Some of these questions may have been answered with the passage in 2015 of the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (sometimes also called the SPACE Act), which “legalized” private property ownership of resources obtained from bodies in outer space for U.S. citizens. This piece will set forth the relevant text of the act in contrast with the governing body of international space law. Whether the federal legislation is valid will be up to much dispute; something this piece attempts to lightly touch upon."

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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    Now an article in this week's The Space Review questions the legality of that law.

    It is based on - how can a country confer rights to something that it does own.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3151/1

    "What is more complex than the commercialization of outer space? Is there legally identifiable real or personal property in outer space? Importantly, may you own property in outer space? Some of these questions may have been answered with the passage in 2015 of the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (sometimes also called the SPACE Act), which “legalized” private property ownership of resources obtained from bodies in outer space for U.S. citizens. This piece will set forth the relevant text of the act in contrast with the governing body of international space law. Whether the federal legislation is valid will be up to much dispute; something this piece attempts to lightly touch upon."

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    "Confer rights on something it doesn't own"? You have heard of imperialism, no?

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    Quote Originally Posted by swampyankee View Post
    "Confer rights on something it doesn't own"? You have heard of imperialism, no?
    LOL

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    Now India is joining the band wagon. Not to mine an asteroid but the moon!!!

    http://www.livemint.com/Science/W5Wj...-meet-Ind.html

    Isro’s lunar dust mine plans were revealed by Dr Sivathanu Pillai, professor at the space agency, in February.

    Speaking at a conference in New Delhi, Pillai, former chief of BrahMos Aerospace, said that mining lunar dust was a priority programme for his organisation.

    In a written reply to the Lok Sabha on 29 March, minister of state in charge of atomic energy and space Jitendra Singh said, “Technology is ready for transfer to Indian industries for undertaking the production of Li-ion batteries. BHEL has expressed interest in the transfer of technology.”

    This lunar dust mining plan comes in the backdrop of India’s plan to cut down import dependence in hydrocarbons by 10 percentage points by 2022. India’s energy demand growth is expected to outpace that of the other Bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, according to the latest BP Energy Outlook.

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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    Now India is joining the band wagon. Not to mine an asteroid but the moon!!!

    http://www.livemint.com/Science/W5Wj...-meet-Ind.html
    I assume that's just a plan on somebody's wish list. The idea that India could solve its energy problems by mining helium 3 on the moon is, shall we say, far-fetched. Helium 3 is used in fusion reactors, and we don't as of now have working fusion reactors. So even if they can manage to mine, an enormous challenge in itself, they won't have anything to do with the helium until somebody develops a working reactor...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I assume that's just a plan on somebody's wish list. The idea that India could solve its energy problems by mining helium 3 on the moon is, shall we say, far-fetched. Helium 3 is used in fusion reactors, and we don't as of now have working fusion reactors. So even if they can manage to mine, an enormous challenge in itself, they won't have anything to do with the helium until somebody develops a working reactor...
    You are correct, I was misled by the now famous " fake news" that now keeps coming out in all areas.

    https://thewire.in/126926/isro-helium3-fake-news/

    *On April 20, 2017,*Livemint*reported that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has plans to mine helium-3 from the Moon to help manage India’s energy needs. ISRO has no such plans. Even if we supposed that it*did, they would be grossly premature.*There is neither*the technology anywhere in the world to use helium-3 to generate energy nor are the legal and logistical hurdles fully understood.

    The report is referring to comments made by the noted space scientist Sivathanu Pillai at the Observer Research Foundation’s Kalpana Chawla Space Policy Dialogue 2017, held in New Delhi in February. Those who attended the conference say that Pillai had said*mining helium-3 from the Moon was possible – but that he didn’t say*anything about ISRO planning to do it.

    One attendee put it thus: “He was describing*the technological landscape. He reviewed the technology*from a*century ago and connected*it*to today, and*then he gave a glimpse of the possibilities of tomorrow.”

    According to multiple sources on the web, helium-3 is a valuable type of fuel for purportedly ‘cleaner’ nuclear fusion.*However, nuclear fusion has not been achieved on Earth even with the lighter, and thus* more easily fuseable, atoms of deuterium and tritium, both isotopes of hydrogen.

    “Although helium-3 fusion may be an attractive alternative if sufficient quantities can be mined and transported at an economical rate, the main difficulty is technological,” Jayant Murthy, a senior professor at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru, told The Wire.*“Helium-3 fusion requires temperatures much higher than the deuterium-tritium fusion that is the basis of current fusion research. It would only be prudent to wait until the*technology is mature before even planning for helium-3*extraction from the Moon.”

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    I would be a bit more charitable. It seems to be a case of a reporter misunderstanding and getting carried away, and the editors doing a bad job of verifying. The Mint is a serious business newspaper, with ties to the WSJ, so I don't think they would deliberately make up news. To be honest I picked up the problem basically because of discussions on this forum.
    As above, so below

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    If I weren't a member of Cosmoquest, I probably would not know what helium-3 was used for. It goes to show that this forum does have a useful role.
    As above, so below

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