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Thread: Asteroid mining

  1. #151
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    The dwarf planet/giant asteroid Ceres has volcanos, and at least one of them might still be active. Happy landings!

    https://phys.org/news/2019-06-gravit...-volcanic.html
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  2. #152
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    The largest (and only) asteroid mining company in the United Kingdom is off and running.

    https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-t...n-feasability/
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  3. #153
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    This article on "wrinkling" on Ceres implies that Ceres experiences earthquakes.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-07-eviden...wrinkling.html
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    This report makes the case for space-based asteroid tracking telescope. If it does get approved, it will be a major asset that can be used by future space mining companies.

    https://spacenews.com/report-makes-c...ing-telescope/

    A report last month has buoyed the efforts of scientists seeking a dedicated mission to search for near Earth objects, although NASA has yet to commit to funding that mission.

    The June 19 report by a National Academies committee concluded that a space-based infrared telescope is the best way to meet a goal established by Congress more than a decade ago of identifying all the potentially hazardous near Earth objects (NEOs) at least 140 meters in diameter.

    “After hearing from representatives of different organizations, including persons who had sought to develop alternative proposals for both ground- and space-based NEO detection systems, the committee concluded that a space-based thermal-infrared telescope designed for discovering NEOs is the most effective option for meeting the George E. Brown Act completeness and size requirements in a timely fashion (i.e., approximately 10 years),” the report stated. The George E. Brown Act is a section of the 2005 NASA authorization act that directed NASA to detect at least 90 percent of NEOs at least 140 meters across by the end of 2020.
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  5. #155
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    The USA is looking to mine rare earth metals from the moon.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/18/nasa...-the-moon.html

    On the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, the leader of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration gave his predictions for the future of the space industry and how it could be a lucrative enterprise much sooner than most investors think.

    NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said, for example, that harvesting rare-earth metals from the surface of the moon will be possible in “this century.”

    “There could be tons and tons of platinum group metals on the moon, rare-earth metals, which are tremendously valuable on Earth,” Bridenstine told CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” on Thursday.
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  6. #156
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    Article on using microbes to mine asteroids. A quirky, intriguing possibility.

    https://www.space.com/biorock-tests-...e-station.html
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  7. #157
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    That's something to digest.

  8. #158
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    Asteroid mining could have one major negative side effect: meteor swarms.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1911.12840

    Meteoroid Stream Formation Due to the Extraction of Space Resources from Asteroids
    Logan Fladeland, Aaron C. Boley, Michael Byers
    (Submitted on 28 Nov 2019)

    [Abridged] Asteroid mining is not necessarily a distant prospect. Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx have recently rendezvoused with near-Earth asteroids and will return samples to Earth. While there is significant science motivation for these missions, there are also resource interests. Space agencies and commercial entities are particularly interested in ices and water-bearing minerals that could be used to produce rocket fuel in space. The internationally coordinated roadmaps of major space agencies depend on utilizing the natural resources of such celestial bodies. Several companies have already created plans for intercepting and extracting water and minerals from near-Earth objects, as even a small asteroid could have high economic worth. However, the low surface gravity of asteroids could make the release of mining waste and the subsequent formation of debris streams a consequence of asteroid mining. Strategies to contain material during extraction could still eventually require the purposeful jettison of waste to avoid managing unwanted mass. Using simulations, we explore the formation of mining debris streams by integrating particles released from four select asteroids. Radiation effects are included, and a range of debris sizes are explored. The simulation results are used to investigate the timescales for debris stream formation, the sizes of the streams, and the meteoroid fluxes compared with sporadic meteoroids. We find that for prodigious mining activities resulting in the loss of a few percent of the asteroid's mass or more, it is possible to produce streams that exceed the sporadic flux during stream crossing for some meteoroid sizes. The result of these simulations are intended to highlight potential unintended consequences that could result from NewSpace activity, which could help to inform efforts to develop international space resource guidelines.
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  9. #159
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Steampunk spacecraft in the asteroid belt. Really.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-01-steam-...y-explore.html

    Steam-propelled spacecraft prototype can theoretically explore celestial objects "forever"
    January 11, 2019 by Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala, University of Central Florida

    Using steam to propel a spacecraft from asteroid to asteroid is now possible, thanks to a collaboration between a private space company and the University of Central Florida. UCF planetary research scientist Phil Metzger worked with Honeybee Robotics of Pasadena, California, which developed the World Is Not Enough spacecraft prototype that extracts water from asteroids or other planetary bodies to generate steam and propel itself to its next mining target.

    UCF provided the simulated asteroid material and Metzger did the computer modeling and simulation necessary before Honeybee created the prototype and tried out the idea in its facility Dec. 31. The team also partnered with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, to develop initial prototypes of steam-based rocket thrusters.

    "It's awesome," Metzger says of the demonstration. "WINE successfully mined the soil, made rocket propellant, and launched itself on a jet of steam extracted from the simulant. We could potentially use this technology to hop on the Moon, Ceres, Europa, Titan, Pluto, the poles of Mercury, asteroids—anywhere there is water and sufficiently low gravity."
    Heck ya! As I was reading thru this thread I was thinking the same. Use water ice as a propellant....no need to break it down into H and O. Just add heat! Could use this system to propel ice rich asteroids to where you want them also.... especially if not in a big hurry. Hmmmm…. what to use as a heat source? Magnifying mirror? Nuclear? Hmmm.... I wonder if Theoretically you could just position the mirror correctly/moveably and forget manufactured thrusters.....just aim it and create your steam plume/thrust on the surface..... assuming you could maintain control. Don't want it heading the wrong direction!
    Last edited by Grant Hatch; 2019-Dec-31 at 03:40 AM.

  10. #160
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    Lots of internal water for Ceres colonists!

    https://arxiv.org/abs/2004.10504
    Thermal convection in the crust of the dwarf planet (1) Ceres
    M.Formisano, C.Federico, J.Castillo-Rogez, M.C. De Sanctis, G.Magni
    [Submitted on 22 Apr 2020]
    Ceres is the largest body in the Main Belt, and it is characterized by a large abundance of water ice in its interior. This feature is suggested by its relatively low bulk density (2,162 kg m^−3), while its partial differentiation into a rocky core and icy crust is suggested by several geological and geochemical features: minerals and salts produced by aqueous alteration, icy patches on the surface, lobate morphology interpreted as surface flows. In this work we explore how the composition can influence the characteristics of thermal convection in the crust of Ceres. Our results suggest that the onset of thermal convection is difficult and when it occurs it is short lived and this could imply that Ceres preserved deep liquid until present, as recent suggested by the work of Castillo-Rogez et al. Moreover, cryovolcanism could be driven by diapirism (chemical convection) rather than thermal convection.
    Do good work. —Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom

  11. #161
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    We have read of western companies aiming to go into space mining. Now Chinese companies wants to get on the band wagon. - "China to Launch Space Mining Bot"

    https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/...ace-mining-bot

    The possibility of space mining has long captured the imagination and even inspired business ventures. Now, a space startup in China is taking its first steps towards testing capabilities to identify and extract off-Earth resources.

    Origin Space, a Beijing-based private space resources company, is set to launch its first ‘space mining robot’ in November. NEO-1 is a small (around 30 kilograms) satellite intended to enter a 500-kilometer-altitude sun-synchronous orbit. It will be launched by a Chinese Long March series rocket as a secondary payload.

    This small spacecraft will not be doing actual mining; instead, it will be testing technologies. “The goal is to verify and demonstrate multiple functions such as spacecraft orbital maneuver, simulated small celestial body capture, intelligent spacecraft identification and control,” says Yu Tianhong, an Origin Space co-founder.

    Origin Space, established in 2017, describes itself as China’s first firm focused on the utilization of space resources. China’s private space sector emerged following a 2014 government decision to open up the industry. Because asteroid mining has often been talked of as potentially a trillion-dollar industry, it is no surprise that a company focused on this area has joined the likes of others developing rockets and small satellites.
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  12. #162
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    The Washington Post Times has an article on China's interest in space mining.

    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news...ining-with-or/

    In November, a Chinese space mining startup, Origin Space, will launch the world’s first space mining robot into Earth orbit (designated NEO-1). Once in orbit, NEO-1 will perform a series of tests to ensure it works properly. This proof-of-concept is the first of its kind and, if successful, will pave the way for China’s budding space mining industry to take flight.

    It is believed that the world’s first trillionaire will come from the space mining industry. Following the launch of NEO-1, Origin Space plans to place a small observation satellite, Yuanwang-1 (or “Little Hubble”), in Earth orbit next year to search for mineable asteroids. Beijing has identified space mining as new strategic industry that China must dominate in order to fulfill President Xi Jinping’s goal of making the People’s Republic of China the world’s hegemon by 2049.

    For President Xi to realize his “China Dream” of global domination by 2049, China has embraced what I refer to as The Field of Dreams mentality when it comes to high-tech innovation and space dominance: If you build it, they will come. By building the world’s first viable space mining companies and creating the infrastructure needed to support long-range space operations, Beijing believes that it can woo foreign talent and investment away from the United States and into China. There is reason to believe that Beijing’s assumptions are correct.
    Last edited by Jim; 2020-Oct-04 at 09:04 PM. Reason: corrected attribution
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  13. #163
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    Not too many years ago I would have laughed at the idea of a trillionaire becoming an actual thing. But now, there's real life people already controlling a significant fraction of that in wealth, from only one planet's worth of resources and workforce.

    They've gone to plaid plausible!
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  14. #164
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    The Washington Post has an article on China's interest in space mining.

    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news...ining-with-or/
    'World hegemon'? lol.

    Anyway, it was difficult to get through the poorly written political piece attached to your link. It's mostly more hand waving about the Chinese Commies sure to overtake the 'indolent' Americans. I don't understand why anybody interested in Space Exploration would read it or use it to inform others.

    Regardless, when China competes in Space mining, it will make the industry that much more vigorous. And that is good for those interested in Space Exploration.

  15. #165
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7cscb View Post
    'World hegemon'? lol.

    Anyway, it was difficult to get through the poorly written political piece attached to your link. It's mostly more hand waving about the Chinese Commies sure to overtake the 'indolent' Americans. I don't understand why anybody interested in Space Exploration would read it or use it to inform others.

    Regardless, when China competes in Space mining, it will make the industry that much more vigorous. And that is good for those interested in Space Exploration.
    It is a weird piece, written by someone who seems to still assume spaceflight means government spaceflight. the writer should plug into one of those webcams down in Boca Chica before he talks about indolence. Also this NEO-1 is nothing more than an observation satellite. The Chinese might identify potential mining sites, only to find by the time they are ready to go mining all the rocks are for sale on Amazon.

  16. #166
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    Asteroid mining

    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    The Washington Post has an article on China's interest in space mining.

    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news...ining-with-or/
    Hang on. That story is from the Washington Times and not the Post. Which would explain all of the story’s shortcomings noted in the previous posts, plus its political bent.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wa...es?wprov=sfti1

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    The Economic Case for Asteroid Mining

    I’ve just joined Cosmoquest and have found reading this thread fascinating.

    The wealth of fascinating papers posted by Roger E Moore highlight the significant interest in various aspects of Asteroid Mining. But there are huge technical and economic challenges in making a strong economic case.

    The time lag between initial expenditure and any eventual private returns from selling metals on earth will obviously be a huge ongoing constraint on private finance. The necessary returns to attract private capital will simply not materialise in time. It’s far too risky.

    And any mining to sell water etc for use in space is dependent on established demand already being there. And it isn’t.

    Yet the long term potential resources available are huge and the eventual long-term vision is strong.

    So government and not for profit investment will be crucial.

    The key question is therefore: how can the sector assemble an evidence base and economic case which can attract sufficient government investment to reduce the risk and ‘crowd in’ private investment?

    The enthusiasm of us advocates for space travel can make an important contribution. But it will also need better evidenced analysis and arguments to make the economic case for sustainable development in space more broadly and specifically asteroid mining within that.

    The specific arguments for promotion of asteroid mining link directly to broader space travel arguments - such as protecting earth from asteroid impact and the longer term value for the resilience of humanity in spreading beyond earth. So a strong economic case for asteroid mining needs to be part of a wider economic case for space...

    Does anybody have any thought or suggestions?

  18. #168
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidLondon View Post
    And any mining to sell water etc for use in space is dependent on established demand already being there. And it isn’t.
    Welcome to the Forum, David.

    You have valid points, however I would also say that orbit-to-orbit transport and a BEO space economy will not attract large scale investment without an ISRU infrastructure already in the process of being being built. Even when reusable stages bring down Earth launch costs, the existing availability of space materials will be a necessary step to enable the ability to create industries. These developments need to evolve in sync, neither one can advance separately.
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    Hello DavidLondon and I also welcome you,

    I tend to believe it will be decades before anybody considers importing raw materials from space.

    As you point out, there is already some academic and entrepreneurial interest in asteroid mining. I think it is extremely promising with continued advancements in AI and robotics. Over the short term, actual trials will involve astronauts but within decades a human presence will be unnecessary and that will be a milestone for viability of the industry.

    I guess the first successful ventures in space will be related to providing water and/or fuel for stations and rockets. Further down the road, the ability to extract raw materials and manufacture solar panels and infrastructure on an unparalleled scale is not implausible. Maybe at that point the economics would allow for sending material to Earth.

    Add to the above the falling payload price to space promised by Elon Musk's Starship and others and, IMO, that is what will drive asteroid mining.

    In the meantime rich tourists will drive a growing human space industry. Increasingly comfortable radiation proof accommodations and, finally, rotationally generated gravity will all be made with Earth stuff for the foreseeable future. Ditto for Martian outposts.

    cheers,

  20. #170
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Welcome to the Forum, David.

    You have valid points, however I would also say that orbit-to-orbit transport and a BEO space economy will not attract large scale investment without an ISRU infrastructure already in the process of being being built. Even when reusable stages bring down Earth launch costs, the existing availability of space materials will be a necessary step to enable the ability to create industries. These developments need to evolve in sync, neither one can advance separately.
    Thanks noclevername. I think you’re right. An isolated business case for say bringing 100 tonnes of refined platinum/cobolt mix back to earth using a few Starships (as suggested in Robert Zubrin’s book ‘The case for space’) would be significantly strengthened if it could also find a buyer for some of the nickel, iron, even carbon or oxygen... Demand for this could come from say a co-ordinated government funded research mission to explore how to nudge asteroid orbits away from earth... or from a SpaceX Mars base or ....? It could presumably also benefit from their refining technology being made available for future projectS in the belt. And costs could be cut further if it could make use of any existing BEO infrastructure along the way, such as supplies exported from the Mars system or other belt projects.

    The key point is you can’t really focus on a business case for asteroid mining in isolation from what else is happening in the emerging space economy, including demand for and supply of in situ resources. identifying and co-ordinating synergistic linkages could be crucial to the project’s viability.

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    Thanks 7cscb.

    Some really interesting ideas for me to follow up. Thanks.

    Thought I would focus on for me the most interesting point (below) and pick up some other points later.
    I guess the first successful ventures in space will be related to providing water and/or fuel for stations and rockets” *

    Most people on here prob know more about this, but you’ve got me exploring the basics on mining asteroid water resources as an early priority where demand is created by the need for water and rocket fuel outside the Earth’s gravity well.

    The article below suggests that certain NEO asteroids could be well placed to supply this demand.
    https://www.space.com/water-rich-ast...tion-fuel.html

    Examples. of the demand drivers are satellite fuel, some space tourism water demand, and presumably any craft needing fuel for travelling anywhere into space from Low earth orbit. Robert Zubrin’s book on The Case for Space (which contains loads of interesting facts) regularly explains how rockets could take a much bigger payload beyond earth orbit if refuelled on low earth orbit. He suggests that a starship launched from Earth could take a 50 tonne payload to Mars without leo refuelling. But with refuelling it could take 150 tonnes to translunar injection (still getting my head around that one) from where 120 tonnes could be transported to Mars.
    Why wouldn’t any government or SpaceX type business want to take advantage of buying fuel in Low earth orbit supplied from outside the gravity well if this is cheaper than powering the extra fuel off the earth’s gravity well? And asteroids could well become the cheapest source of any fuel from outside the well.
    So this is potentially a very strong driver of early(ish) demand for asteroid mining products….

    Such facilities could become a central part of space economy infrastructure.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propellant_depot
    This also suggests such depots could be placed at Earth-moon Lagrange points. Presumably also mars system orbits and in the belt itself eventually. Surely NASA, SpaceX etc have given this a lot of attention already.

    I would have thought some could become much more than simply propellant depots. It would make sense to combine them with other services a bit like like rest areas/ services stations on motorways. But that is really for another thread somewhere.
    The key for this thread is how long it would take to shift refuelling stations from resourcing fuel from Earth to getting fuel from beyond earth orbit. Initially this would probably be a great lunar project for supplying hydrogen/oxygen to LEO to complement a station at the lunar South Pole? There have long been plans for a refuelling station on the moon apparently.
    And then, how long for asteroid sourced resources to replace lunar resources?. But isn’t there a risk that this could take a long time to become cost effective even once demand for such facilities are well established. Governments are investing a lot in lunar settlement so lunar base could be heavily subsidised, at least initially (let’s not even get into space regulation and competition policy!).

    So In summary water based uses could well drive demand for asteroid mining products at the heart of emerging space economy infrastructure..
    But would this be quicker than markets where demand is already established, such as precious metals like platinum on earth?

    Am more than happy for others to add to or correct this fairly basic understanding. Please bear with me. But this is still a new area to the vast majority of people I suspect - including those who may be in a position to fund projects - so I’m not alone in trying to understand the basics. And the who,e subject is riddled with uncertainty.

  22. #172
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    Re: the Moon, there are some NEOs that can be round-tripped from Low Earth Orbit for less delta V than the Lunar surface and back. So we might not need to mine the Moon before asteroids, they can be concurrent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidLondon View Post
    So In summary water based uses could well drive demand for asteroid mining products at the heart of emerging space economy infrastructure..
    But would this be quicker than markets where demand is already established, such as precious metals like platinum on earth?
    Mining minerals in space to bring to Earth would not only not be cost-effective for years, it would crash most Earthly markets for those materials in the long run.

    ISRU saves money in the long run. It's the massive short term investment needed to make it practical that is the killer. Volatiles like water ice are the low hanging fruit, because they can be extracted by steam pipes and processed on site using vacuum distilling. But putting a metal refinery in space costs too much unless new methods are developed that are cheap, low-mass, low-energy, and that will work under space conditions. Which is asking a lot.

    Raw asteroid regolith scooped up as a bulk radiation shielding might prove useful too. If we can come up with a relatively simple way to compress or otherwise turn it into a solid it could make a good basic structural material.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Mining minerals in space to bring to Earth would not only not be cost-effective for years, it would crash most Earthly markets for those materials in the long run.

    ISRU saves money in the long run. It's the massive short term investment needed to make it practical that is the killer. Volatiles like water ice are the low hanging fruit, because they can be extracted by steam pipes and processed on site using vacuum distilling. But putting a metal refinery in space costs too much unless new methods are developed that are cheap, low-mass, low-energy, and that will work under space conditions. Which is asking a lot.

    Raw asteroid regolith scooped up as a bulk radiation shielding might prove useful too. If we can come up with a relatively simple way to compress or otherwise turn it into a solid it could make a good basic structural material.
    If Bezos every actually launches anything those asteriods will be the basis for his planned orbital colonies and I wouldn't be suprised if SpaceX doesn't find a use for them if they really do wind up with a fleet of Starships travelling around the Solar System.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Mining minerals in space to bring to Earth would not only not be cost-effective for years, it would crash most Earthly markets for those materials in the long run.

    ISRU saves money in the long run. It's the massive short term investment needed to make it practical that is the killer.
    The emerging commercial opportunities for investment in geocentric space - reusable rockets, satellites, space tourism, science labs etc - have built on decades of government (and not for profit) investment.

    So maybe we needn’t be discouraged that governments and others will need to provide the initial scoping of opportunities and wider communal infrastructure and funding, perhaps for many years - whether it be to create the basis for ISRU of water or tackle the challenges for metal mining infrastructure on asteroids.

    Too early even for outline business cases. But the early scoping of strategic context and fit analysis should be possible.

    I suspect that we will need public and private sectors to work together. The way NASA has funded SpaceX and Boeing to take astronauts to ISS and involving a range of private companies in Artemis could provide a way forward for asteroid mining.

    Private expertise would be best placed to develop pilot projects on mining and refining techniques for metals on asteroids.

    There is potentially an even stronger strategic fit for government funding to develop private sector capacity to bring asteroid sourced water to geocentric space to build key space economy refuelling infrastructure. It could even attract early interest from SpaceX or Blue Origins for their solar system plans.
    We would have to do more scoping, but sounds like a strong ‘strategic fit’ to me. And the wider spill over benefits from applying cutting edge robotics, 3D printing for Isru uses could be substantial. The cost of supplying human labour for asteroid projects will surely stimulate innovative uses of technology.

    Yet important strategic context is also going to be around how demand for commercial investment is going to be brought to the sector. And I can’t help feeling that demand for much sought after precious metals on earth is already there (Commercially savvy businesses are likely to be very alive to the risk of swamping a lucrative market by oversupply). More uncertain is the pace of developing Demand for water uses in geocentric space.

    But whatever the best public private mix going forward we will need to strengthen the scoping foundations for embryonic outline business cases with strong strategic and economy components for either sources of funding. We need to strengthen the strategic and economic case for space - including for investment in asteroid mining.

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    Strategic metals like rare earths might drive an Earth-return profile, as the value of such elements does not hinge solely on their scarcity. I'd guess that returning raw asteroidal materials to the surface directly for processing might be a method available in the foreseeable future.
    However there's serious safety issues with having artificial meteors dropping from the sky in industrially significant amounts. Whoever carried out such a program would effectively have WMDs as an integral part of their business plan. Not likely to go over well with the governments of the world.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Strategic metals like rare earths might drive an Earth-return profile, as the value of such elements does not hinge solely on their scarcity. I'd guess that returning raw asteroidal materials to the surface directly for processing might be a method available in the foreseeable future.
    However there's serious safety issues with having artificial meteors dropping from the sky in industrially significant amounts. Whoever carried out such a program would effectively have WMDs as an integral part of their business plan. Not likely to go over well with the governments of the world.
    People keep confusing rare earths and platinum group metals. Rare earths are common in Earth's crust, whats rare is ores with concentrations high enough to economically mine. They can be expected to be even more diffuse in geologically primitive rock like you find in asteroids. It's platinum group metals that are relatively rich in asteroids, since much of what Earth got ended up in the core, and their rarity and value makes them economically extractable from ores with very low concentrations.

    Mars deposits of dark sands that have been weathered out of igneous rock and then density-sorted by the action of wind. That's the kind of place you'd look for rare earths.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    People keep confusing rare earths and platinum group metals. Rare earths are common in Earth's crust, whats rare is ores with concentrations high enough to economically mine. They can be expected to be even more diffuse in geologically primitive rock like you find in asteroids. It's platinum group metals that are relatively rich in asteroids, since much of what Earth got ended up in the core, and their rarity and value makes them economically extractable from ores with very low concentrations.

    Mars deposits of dark sands that have been weathered out of igneous rock and then density-sorted by the action of wind. That's the kind of place you'd look for rare earths.
    My mistake! I was under the impression that RE was more plentiful in asteroids.

    So, could PG metals industrial value justify the return on investment if mined in space but brought to Earth for processing?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    My mistake! I was under the impression that RE was more plentiful in asteroids.

    So, could PG metals industrial value justify the return on investment if mined in space but brought to Earth for processing?
    My understanding is that they are still a small percentage of the source material and delta-v is the biggest cost issue after cost of developing hardware, so you want to mine and process on site. Another big issue is the speed of light. Robots are much cheaper to send than people but much less flexible. NEOs can have many minutes of communication delay, so humans on Earth can help on general guidance, but robots would need a high degree of autonomy.

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  30. #180
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Posts
    24

    Risks for asteroid mining

    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Strategic metals like rare earths might drive an Earth-return profile, as the value of such elements does not hinge solely on their scarcity. I'd guess that returning raw asteroidal materials to the surface directly for processing might be a method available in the foreseeable future.
    However there's serious safety issues with having artificial meteors dropping from the sky in industrially significant amounts. Whoever carried out such a program would effectively have WMDs as an integral part of their business plan. Not likely to go over well with the governments of the world.
    Good point. There will be a number er of challenges like this which need to be considered.

    Roger E Moore’s post above #158 provides more detail. I guess there will be synergies between solving that and tackling asteroids which are already a danger to earth.

    It would be useful to identify other risks and challenges as well. Asteroid mining will not be a quick win for the space economy ....

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