How Humans Will Mine Asteroids and Comets



The idea of mining the planets, Moon, asteroids, and comets for their valuable mineral resources is not new. Science fiction writers began weaving tales of space mines, worked by crusty, usually antisocial old prospectors, in the 1930s. Invariably, these difficult, dirty, lonely operations in the far frontiers of the solar system resembled the mines in a more familiar frontier situation—the nineteenth-century American West. There were "decadent boom towns with grossly inflated prices," University of Arizona scientist John S. Lewis points out in his recent book about space mining. These stories also featured "boisterous miners in town for a few days to pick up supplies and go on a bender," along with "slick gamblers, painted women, and a variety of dubious establishments." 41

Not surprisingly, drunk miners, gamblers, and painted women were not part of the vision of the scientists who began discussing asteroid mining in the 1970s. The technological advances made during the U.S. space program had recently culminated in several successful manned Moon landings. And the experts became convinced that mining asteroids, and perhaps comets too, would actually be feasible in the near future.

Since that time, scientists working for both NASA and private companies have been doing detailed studies of space mining. The general consensus is that most of the technology needed to begin modest mining operations on an asteroid already exists. The main ingredient still missing is the commitment of a large amount of money by a government, corporation, or group of private investors. The experts all agree that it is only a matter of time before humans begin exploiting the tremendous wealth of resources waiting for them in the solar system.

An Extremely Profitable Business

The first questions that all potential investors ask, of course, are what is the nature of these abundant resources contained in asteroids and comets, and what are they worth? Scientists answer first that the asteroids are composed of iron, nickel, platinum, and other metals, as well as sulfur, aluminum oxide, carbon compounds, and other minerals. Many asteroids

Mining the solar systems riches was the subject of the 1981 movie Outland. This shot from the film shows a mining colony on one of Jupiters moons.
Mining the solar system's riches was the subject of the 1981 movie Outland . This shot from the film shows a mining colony on one of Jupiter's moons.
also contain smaller amounts of volatiles, including hydrogen, oxygen, and water.

As for the value of these materials to people on Earth, Lewis cites the example of the smallest known M-type asteroid—Amun. It is about 1.2 miles across and has a mass of about 30 billion tons. To put this large tonnage in perspective, imagine that the raw materials from the mining operation are loaded into a fleet of space shuttles like those presently in NASA's fleet. The cargo bay of a typical shuttle holds about twenty-five tons, equivalent to 250 two-hundred-pound people. It would take four hundred shuttles (or four hundred trips by one shuttle), therefore, to haul ten thousand tons of asteroidal material; and it would take 1.2 billion shuttles (or 1.2 billion trips by one shuttle) to carry all of the materials mined from Amun.

Regarding the materials themselves, Amun's total tonnage breaks down into many different metals. The most abundant of these are iron and nickel, which alone would have a market value of about $8 trillion. (Keep in mind that a trillion is a million times a million.) Supplies of another metal, cobalt, on Amun would be worth perhaps $6 trillion. Then there are rarer metals such as platinum, iridium, osmium, and palladium, which together would add another $6 trillion to the investors' profits. The nonmetals, including carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, oxygen, hydrogen, and gallium, would be worth at least $2 trillion. If humans mined all of Amun, therefore (which would take many years), the gross profits would come to at least $22 trillion. It is difficult to estimate the upfront costs of such a mining operation. But even if they were as high as $1 trillion, the net profits would still be $21 trillion. Clearly, asteroid mining will be an extremely profitable business.

Remember also that all of the valuable resources and profits cited are from a single small asteroid. What would all of the asteroids in the asteroid belt together be worth? Lewis speculates about the asteroidal iron alone:

To raise the standard of living of the people of Earth to present-day North American, Japanese, or Western European levels, we need about 2 billion tons of iron and steel each year. With the asteroidal supplies of metal at hand, we could meet Earth's needs for the next four hundred million years. . . . Suppose that we were to extract all the iron in the belt and bring it back to Earth. Spreading this amount of iron uniformly over all the continents gives us a layer of iron . . . half a mile thick. . . . This is enough iron to cover all the continents with a steel frame building 8,000 stories (80,000 feet, or 15.2 miles) tall. 42

When one factors in the other metals available in the asteroid belt alone, along with the many nonmetals, the total resources could sustain a human population a million times larger than the present one for several thousand years. And this does not take into account the trillions of asteroids and comets in the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud. (The comets contain far fewer metals, but do have many minerals, as well as an abundance of volatiles that could be used for food production and making fuels.)

Supplies for Earth and the New Frontier

The discussion of the monetary worth of asteroids and comets must not divert attention from the other major reason to pursue the dream of mining these objects. Namely, the metals, minerals, and volatiles acquired in such operations would help conserve supplies of these materials on Earth. At present, these supplies are marginally sufficient to sustain the planet's present population. But that population will inevitably grow and supplies of a number of metals and other commodities will begin to run out.

Also, processing metals and minerals (separating them from the rocky mixtures in which most are trapped) pollutes Earth's air, soil, and water. This problem will be eliminated entirely in space mining since all of the processing will take place far from Earth. At first glance, it would seem that such operations would simply shift the pollution problem from Earth to outer space. But this need not be the case. William Hartmann explains:

Some writers have raised the specter of humanity despoiling the solar system, in the same manner that over-industrialization is beginning to despoil Earth's environment. But . . . with a careful balance of research and exploitation, we could learn from and process materials in space in a [clean] way that would [also] begin to take the pressure off Earth's ecosystem. A transition from Earth-based manufacturing to interplanetary manufacturing could eventually reduce pollution and ravaging of Earth by an Earth-based society bent on ripping the last dwindling resources from the land. 43

There is another dimension to human acquisition and consumption of cosmic resources, however. Nearly all the experts agree that by the time space mining becomes widespread, only a small percentage of the materials mined will end up on Earth. Instead, a major portion of these resources will be used to construct and sustain human colonies and cities floating in space. Space, they say, will become a vast new frontier that will attract many people born on Earth, helping to stabilize or at least slow the growth of the planet's population. (And of course, over time even more people will be born in space.)

A City in the Sky

As planetary scientist John S. Lewis says in this excerpt from his fascinating book Mining the Sky , the asteroid belt contains enough iron to construct an enormous space city.

We have enough asteroidal iron [in the asteroid belt] to make a metal sphere . . . 550 miles in diameter. Hollowed out into rooms with iron walls, like a gigantic city, it would make a spherical space structure over . . . 1,200 miles in diameter. . . . With a nine-foot ceiling, we could provide each family with a floor area of 3,000 square feet for private residential use and still set aside 3,000 square feet of public space per family. This artificial world would contain enough room to accommodate more than ten quadrillion [a million times a billion] people. Very simply, that is a million times the ultimate population capacity of Earth.

It is fair to ask why the inhabitants of such colonies, as well as people still living on Earth, would choose to get metals, minerals, and other resources from asteroids and comets rather than from larger cosmic bodies. Why not mine the Moon first, for example, or perhaps the planet Mars? After all, the Moon and Mars are both far larger than all of the asteroids put together, and both are closer to Earth than most of the asteroids and comets (the NEAs being an obvious exception).

First, whether they live on Earth or in space cities, people will naturally want to obtain cosmic resources as easily and cheaply as possible. The fact is that mining the asteroids will be far easier and more economical than mining a large body like the Moon. The Moon's surface gravity is about one-sixth that of Earth, which is strong enough to require a good deal of fuel to land miners and their equipment on its surface. More importantly, getting the processed metals and minerals off the Moon's surface would take even larger amounts of fuel. An added problem is that most of the valuable metals and minerals on the Moon are spread out over thousands of square miles and bound up inside mixtures of rock and dirt, many lying deep underground; it would require a lot of exploration, as well as strenuous and expensive digging and processing, to free them.

Zero-Gravity Mining Techniques

In contrast, most asteroids and comets are small, manageable, and have extremely tiny gravities, all of which make them easier to mine. Mining ships will also not land on or take off from these bodies, which will save enormous amounts of fuel. A typical ship will stop beside an asteroid and the miners, wearing spacesuits, will transport over to the worksite by pushing off the side of the ship. (They may also use small jets attached to their suits.) This is possible because the ship, the miners, and the asteroid are all nearly weightless. For this reason, the miners will need to attach long tethers to their suits and tie the opposite ends of the tethers to spikes hammered into the asteroid. This will keep them from accidentally floating away into space while they are working.

In addition, the mined materials in such a situation are, like the miners, nearly weightless, and will

In this illustration of an asteroid mining operation, an astronaut is tethered to the surface. He uses a jet pack to maneuver.
In this illustration of an asteroid mining operation, an astronaut is tethered to the surface. He uses a jet pack to maneuver.
not need to be lifted off the asteroid's surface. This will not only save fuel, but will greatly reduce other risks. According to the scientists at the Minor Planet Center (at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory):

Getting asteroidal materials is not a risky business, like launching materials up from Earth or the Moon. Transporting asteroidal materials is all "interorbital" [i.e., takes place in orbit]. [There will be] no risks of crashes, no huge rockets. The gravity of the asteroids is negligible. A person can jump off any but the largest asteroids with leg power alone. 44

Another advantage of mining asteroids rather than the Moon is that the asteroidal metals and minerals are concentrated in a small, easily accessible space and are much purer in content. Almost all asteroids, Daniel Durda points out, "have a hundred times more metal not bound up in rocky minerals than do moon rocks." 45 On S-type and especially M-type asteroids, such materials will require very little processing. Indeed, a fair amount will be collectable even before the digging process begins. The surface of such bodies is rich in granules of metal, ranging from sand- to perhaps fist-sized pieces, all mixed with sootlike dirt. These granules "can easily be separated from the dirt," the Minor Planet Center experts say,

using only magnets [in the form of magnetic rakes] and soft grinders. Some engineering designs have "centrifugal grinders," whereby the dirt is fed into a rotating tank and shattered against the wall a time or two. Out come little metal disks, which are separated using simple magnets. 46

Once digging operations begin, larger deposits of metals and minerals will be separated with bigger grinding and chopping devices. Most likely, the miners will allow the loose rocks to float up and away from the asteroid's surface, where a large canopy, a sort of tarp made of nylon or some other tough material, will catch them. One group of experts describes the advantages of such a canopy:

Companies will most probably use a canopy because the canopy would be quite profitable in terms of the amount of loose ore [rock mixture] it would collect. It would also prevent the area [around the worksite] from turning into a big dark cloud of debris which would pose problems for the operations. . . . A double-cone-shaped canopy is put around the asteroid. . . . The canopy is then rotated. A [small robotic device called a] dust kicker goes down to the asteroid and . . . kicks up the ore at low velocity. The ore strikes the canopy and is deflected so that it tends to rotate with the canopy, eventually sliding down the two [cone-shaped] funnels. 47

The equipment for processing the metal- and mineral-rich ore will be located at the tips of the two cones. After all of the usable materials have been mined, the miners will tie off the ends of the canopy and tow it either to a floating city or into Earth's orbit. That way, the canopy doubles as both a collection apparatus and transport device.

Habitats for the Miners

During these mining operations, which could take months or years, depending on the size of the asteroid and the number of workers and machines, the miners will need somewhere to live. The quarters aboard the ship itself will likely be too cramped for such a long stay. So the miners will build a temporary habitat, which will use mostly on-site materials and thereby eliminate the need and cost of bringing them from Earth.

To some degree, the kinds of materials required to erect and sustain a human habitat for such miners will dictate the type of asteroid the mining operation will target. Although M-types have more metals than other kinds of asteroids, probably a majority of the asteroids mined will be S-types or C-types. These bodies have larger supplies of oxygen, hydrogen, water (in the form of ice), and other volatiles that are essential to the habitats. If necessary, additional volatiles can be obtained from comets; storehouses of cometary volatiles could be positioned at various points in space for asteroid miners to draw from.

As for how these lighter materials will be converted, first the miners will melt the ices to produce water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. They will also extract oxygen and hydrogen from the ices and combine them with various minerals to make beams, walls, pipes, and other parts for their habitat. The miners can also employ the oxygen and hydrogen to make fuel, both to power the ship on its return voyage and to sell to companies or individuals

In a scene from Outland, space miners are shown in a habitat built on-site. Large versions of such habitats will feature most of the comforts of home.
In a scene from Outland , space miners are shown in a habitat built on-site. Large versions of such habitats will feature most of the comforts of home.
in space cities or on Earth. This means that relatively little, if any, fuel will have to be brought from Earth, making space mines and habitats almost completely self-sufficient.

Indeed, nothing would be wasted during the mining operation. "Even unprocessed soil," says Durda, "could be used for shielding" to protect miners and other astronauts "on longer missions from cosmic rays and solar flares [dangerous radiation from the Sun]." 48

Setting Large-Scale Goals

These mining situations and techniques are not some flight of fancy that will take centuries to become reality. NASA, various groups of scientists, and some private companies have already begun drawing up plans for such space mining missions. They know that certain inherent difficulties and problems will have to be overcome, or at least planned for, to make this huge undertaking work. For example, even in the case of the NEAs, which will surely be the first targets for space miners, a typical round trip will be two to five years. This is a long time for a company of miners to be separated from family, friends, and society in general. Long periods of work in weightless conditions may also have a negative effect on the miners' health. Astronauts who have spent many months in weightless conditions in Earth's orbit have developed muscle weakness, loss of calcium and red blood cells, and other problems. And of course, such ventures will be extremely costly and require long-term financial and other commitments from governments, companies, and tens of thousands, if not millions, of individuals.

Assuming such commitments do materialize, however, the technical difficulties will be relatively minimal. Indeed, scientists emphasize that humans can reach and mine the asteroids and comets mostly using technology that exists or is presently in development. It is true that this technology will have to be applied on a much vaster scale than people have ever experienced. But it is doable nonetheless. "This isn't Star Wars," say the Minor Planet Center researchers. "The asteroids aren't against us. It's really pretty simple stuff." People have already demonstrated the ability to travel and live in space, and "the engineering factors that go into 'docking' with an asteroid are not difficult." 49

The biggest difficulty will rest in the human decision to begin the mammoth enterprise of exploiting the riches of the solar system. Countries, peoples, and governments have accomplished such large-scale goals before, as the Europeans did when they settled and transformed North and South America or as the Americans did when they aimed for and reached the Moon in the 1960s. One thing is certain. These prior undertakings, though enormous in their own times, will be positively dwarfed by the adventure that awaits humanity in the asteroid belt and beyond.



User Contributions:

1
Mark
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May 25, 2008 @ 4:04 am
I believe the place to start this process is by targeting small meteoroids (1m in dia and smaller) that pass close to Earth or burn up in it's atmosphere each year, capturing ones suitable for processing and bringing them to Earth orbit for processing. After processing, highly valued metals or minerals could be returned to Earth for immediate return on investment and things like iron(turned into steel?) and other components whose value does not justify the cost of returning them to Earth would remain in orbit where further processing would be done to use those materials for constructing facilities and equipment in space.
2
Scott
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Sep 5, 2010 @ 3:15 pm
Challenging, how many venture capitalists would try this one! There must be some Billionare who is willing to try to become the first Trillionare and lead the planet into a new golden age of ample resources and orbital/zero G manufacturing? Though please take your time, my country is a primary produce of raw materials and a mass supply of these becoming available would surely ruin our economy to satisfy the hungry dragon.

Ok so assuming you were a billionare capitalist with 10 years to live and a real hard on for space exploration who wanted to gain immortality by becoming the first space merchant and no qualms about losing their fortune to do so. So you somehow acquired Boeing and several mines and ran at cost to produce a modular space mining ship/fleet of epic proportions!.. or just a small tug to tow weightless near earth asteroids to Earth Orbit for processing.

Then leased the other equipment and borrowed expertise from a government to launch from Earth to build a sectioned space craft in many shuttle missions to construct a spacedock from the international space station, that's your main initial sunk cost.
Then using the light weight new prototype plasma magnet engines you could get out to the belt and perform a 150 day return mission on the metal asteroids! If the little one is $22 Trillion and you brought it back you just made USA + CHINA + JAPANs entire economic output for a year in less than 6 months, uhuh. What are you waiting for? Permission? Get those roids pinheads!!

Gradually build a manufacturing facility in space and build up the space dock. Eventually build a space elevator frame from the materials processed in space and lower it into earths atmosphere somehow. I'm no engineer but how about connected to the dock there is an enourmous series of seawater tubes that can 'flush' materials down to earth through 120km of 'pipes' and sorting equipment to dry docks ready to be shipped to manufacturers on the ground. Or a 'bicycle pump' elevator that just slows descent with air compression. Well, surely many other people can think of logistics to get the stuff to the ground without it burning up or colliding, we need it down here for buildings, roads & ships. If we can change the mining industry to space mining and make it more efficient, we can retrain miners for space mining and agriculture/aquaculture and support a bigger earth, with more nicer apartment buildings, better pricing power parity for all and cleaner faster mass transit systems. Plus if we could figure out an affordable space elevator, or if this industry supplied the materials and the incentive to build one, we could send radioactive pollution to the sun.

Then construct a tug with a method for towing the lighter dust back in those 'cones', and you knew you could get there first and just collect the 'easy' to mine layers from multiple asteroids with a giant electro magnet.

The only organisation with sufficient expertise is NASA and they take a lot of the best people, you'd have to poach staff from many countries to achieve this commercially.
3
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Feb 8, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
I think you should add a little economics here. If the markets heard of such a huge discovery and that such a large hoard of metals could be bought down to earth profitably ,then the metals prices would automatically drop like the fall of the rupee ,following discoveries of large sliver deposit in Mexico and South America.
4
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Jul 17, 2011 @ 6:18 pm
I find the idea of interplanetary mining very interesting, but I do find the idea of humans spending years of their lives drilling into atroids unlikely. It is a romantic reiteration of the past applied on this new frontier.

Any project that require humans in space is at least 10 times as expensive as a comparable project that that isn't. Because of that, I think it will be centuries until humans visit space for any reason other than exploration and mayby tourism.

What I think will happen is that in a few decades a few critical resources will start to run out, mostly phosphorus needed for artificial fertilizers. This will cause prices will rise to create insentives to develop other sources.

The way the astroids eventually will get mined is probably through automated drones. These would more or less autonomously select and mine rich astroids. Preferable the material would be recovered useing a mass driver to shoot the material back to earth where it somehow gets recovered. The problem would be the recovery considering the kinetic energies involved. Another solution would be to attach a solar sail on a chunk of mined material and use this to safely navigate back to earth.

One of the problem with this is that the weight of the material that can be transported back to Earth becomes limited. This means it might become advantageous to process the material on the mining site to limit the waste transported. This would require a considerably more complex and expensive drone.

If I was the eccentric billionaire Scott spoke of I would develop a mining drone weighing about 50 tonnes and send it off to the astroidbelt and then wait for it to send back neat packages of high value materials that would drop through the atmospere in some desert somewhere. I would probably not care to much about the launch expenses so I would make the next drone model self replicating, then I would sit back and wait to become very wealthy.
5
Vash
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Aug 13, 2011 @ 12:00 am
Automation is the big game changer here. As is the advent of the space elevator. Space Elevavators will allow for cheap and cost efficient launches into space of mining equipment and the ferrying to and fro of acquired asteroid resources.

Its also very possible that with higher automation and advanced robotics, we won't require space elevators for the engineering of more sites. Since the drones may be fully automated and might benefit of narrow AI by that stage anyways. I see the analogy of miners going off to an adventurous frontier abit unlikely. It is more likely that no one will be doing manual labor in a spacesuit. What is more likely is after a well established space mining industry is accomplished, there might be administrators who oversee a large mining operation if people decide to live nearby. But the only incentive to live on these barren worlds is that life in space has become very inexpensive and the population problem is so bad that wide open and luxurious space habitats are a dime a dozen.

Then perhaps you will see a mass exodus of people leaving Earth. Another motive may be for political and social reasons, if warfare becomes more frequent, and space real estate is almost free and attractive to pioneers. There may be alot who decide living in a volatile political area is not worth it. But the incentives will be easier to get luxuries in space, and unlimited resources/housing space/higher quality of life. You can be sure that one day only the very wealthy will remain on Earth. As most underpriveledged peoples might be living in luxurious space stations with high tech entertainment... at least until we venture out to the interstellar void and discover our first Eerth like world.
6
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Sep 2, 2011 @ 12:12 pm
I'm looking for harms and advantages for astroid mining
7
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Oct 30, 2011 @ 12:00 am
@Cohen Astrotecture

"Can you please provide the image source or credit for the drawing of the astronaut doing an EVA with a jetpack on an asteroid?"

The drawing was made by Eugen Semitjov, a Swedish journalist, author and artist of Russian descent who was born in Sweden 1923.

Eugen Semitjov was an expert in spacecraft, especially Russian ones and worked as a translator from Russian during Juriy Gagarin visit to Sweden. He drawed for many of the swedish newspapers, and he really got in the limelight during spacerace between Russia and USA and his drawings was on the front page of the major newspapers. Eugen Semitjov covered the Apolloprogramme as a journalist in Florida.
8
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Oct 31, 2011 @ 11:11 am
who wrote this article? i might use it for a project.
9
Doug
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Jun 7, 2012 @ 11:23 pm
Hello. There is one problem with your fiscal calculation, in that you did not take into account market prices plunging as material is dumped into it. These volumes of materials would saturate the market and prices would plummet. And at this scale of money, who would buy it. Very quickly prices would drop. So your returns would be substantially cut. To what extent, I can't calculate but it would seem to be very drastic For sure. initially your returns would be good, but very soon the market would be saturated, inducing huge drops in prices. Simple supply and demand. unless you operated it like Debeers operates there diamond mining, just stockpiling it and slowly releasing it into the market. But this would vastly extend your profit return time.
Just food for thought.
But I am all for it! Anything that gets us out there!
10
greg
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Mar 10, 2013 @ 1:13 pm
I would think the way to mine would be to figure out to slow the decent of material into the atmosphere to a rate slow enough that shielding is unneeded. Once this is accomplished you could grab any material you wanted, bring into orbit slow the speed while descending to earth and process on the ground. I do not know if this can be done now, but I would venture to say its not impossible project would just need someone much smarter than myself. Anyways if your intending on using it here it would make sense to process here. If you are going to use it in outer space then process it where your going to use it or near where your going to use. Wat I am saying is why pay to transport and process in space if your using it on earth. Just mine and transport off earth to keep cost down.
11
jim
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Mar 17, 2014 @ 6:06 am
It always makes me wonder when i read this sort of thing, where do people get the idea that earth is running out of resource? Seriously, just imagine how much resource lies locked within the crust, not only is the deepest mine barely 4km deep, which is not even half way through the crust but the earth is a sphere with 510 million cubic kilometers. It is kind of like the eugenists who claim we are running out of room, sure if you stand in the middle of New York on a busy day it might seem that way, but spend a few days driving across the outback in Australia and you won't see a soul. Exploration of the earth is not even remotely complete, and it still stands as the most abundant source of resource available to us.

That being said I yearn to float round an asteroid with a pick my hand. As stated by others unless a way can be found to bring that resource down to earth then the only benefit that will ever be seen is in orbit.

I always imagine that a way could be found to tractor the rocks in to near earth orbit, seems to me this would be the logical way to proceed, sure drones are a fantastic idea but you still need to find a way to move all those tonnes of rock. Why not strap a huge engine of some kind and maneuver them into orbit then begin the stripping and refining process together? Maybe even core them out and use the empty shells as an impact / radiation protection layer on larger orbital structures?
12
Cobalt Steel
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Oct 23, 2014 @ 1:01 am
I am all for asteroid and lunar mining. The rational and logic is there. It would mean an abundance of materials for the human race. Think it through. To those who say "Asteroid mining to pay off the debt of the nation and economy would not work because, ironically, the vast influx of new metals would cause the price to drop, their value to drop, once they saturate the market.", my response is "GOOD!" What we want is to see the global materials and commodities and energy markets super saturated where the human race has an over abundant supply of everything material. We need and desire an abundance society in place of a scarcity society. Cobalt, Iron, Steel, Gold, Diamonds, you name it, dirt, dirt cheap for all people. Add to this self-replicating nano assembler factories, and eventually nuclear fusion for energy and cheap transmutation, and you've got it. The nanomachines would filter out and collect all atoms and you would not have to worry about material pollution anymore. Fusion could transmute hydrogen into any heavier elements as needed, and you can then cheaply make solar power sattelites and flexible solar cells. The only dangers would be accidents, abuse, and heat pollution, which could cook the planet if everyone had their own personal fusion reactor.
13
eugenio
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May 6, 2015 @ 3:03 am
Is there an overview (e.g. list, database, etc.) of mineral resources (raw/crude materials) available on the planets of our solar system?
14
walter j. gomez
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Mar 15, 2016 @ 12:12 pm
As I state in my book, The Military Geography of the Solar System (by Walter J. Gomez), this will require some form of military security. The situation would be analogous to the Mercantile System which was established from the 18th through the early 20th century on Earth, which required the establishment of military naval fleets to protect the assets and merchant fleets. I think this is a cost that must be factored in to the overall cost/benefit analysis.
15
tony
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Oct 21, 2016 @ 7:19 pm
I suspect most asteroids would be easy to move. Rockets and fuel could be processed from the asteroid by a robotic factory.
then start trip to one of several Lagrange points. The space station would turn into a way station and new stations and docks built at most Lagrange points. Most material would probably not come to earth. there are to many things to build in space for living and travel. Just because its time consuming and dangerous means we will go. Not that we won't. Ill be in line to go! Most countries with submarines already know how to build and man closed environment ships.
16
Mat
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Nov 7, 2018 @ 12:00 am
To mine an asteroid the best potential one would be an oblong near earth asteroid with big cratets on in. Send a satellite to put a tether around it. Like a string around a bone. That type of asteroid would prevent a tether from sliding of either side of it. Follow and strategically anchor down solar panels and communication and maneuver thruster array combo. Park and anchor down centrifical artificial gravity spaceship in crater on asteroid. Ship should also have good shielding from solar radiation an occasional rotator and backup rocket to leave or incase of emergency and backup. Each supply trip could add more rooms as well to increase volume for crew. Mined out inside could then add more artificial gravity rooms. And be then sold to do missions to help terraform or transport matetials to various places within the inner solar system. Other ships could potentially be added on in intervals on asteroid. Asteroid could then divived up into roughly equal parys to become several asteroids that could then meet up with othet asteroids to make their mining even easier by having an already established parent body astetoid.
17
Mat
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Nov 10, 2018 @ 2:14 pm
As for this article I've considered many of the ideas within it. The best asteroid to choose would be an irregular elongated near earth asteroid with atleast one large crater on it. That way you know its strong. If it can handle such an impact it has to be tough. Using a satelitte tether a reinforced extension cable around the asteroid. Like tieing a string around a bone. That way it couldnt slip off either side. Or a lasoo method. Then with the same satellite or a different one. Follow the cable around the asteroid and strategically place down combo of solar panels and relayed communications and thruster arrays at various intervals. Land and anchor centrifical artificial gravity spaceship in selected crater of asteroid to give it a little extra protection from solar radiation. After landing start artificial gravity. Each supply mission could add to artificial gravity module in pairs via an occasional rotator. In pairs so as to not create a nasty wobble that could affect the ship. Occasional rotator could also be used in case of emergencies or for major repairs so they would have gravity. Then mine underneath and create more artificial gravity compartment from mined out areas. May need anchored down counter rotator on other side of asteroid by this point. Have concept that would be light weight have shielding from solar radiation be reusable spacious in its ability to be added to if needed. Be multifunctional for many uses. Not just for mining. It could be used just for a base on low gravity celestial objects from just under sub kilometer objects to small moons within the inner solar system. If asteroid found with enough ice it could even be retrofitted for farther reaches of our solar system. As that would be used as a way to generate substantial electricity and fuel for propellant.

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