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posted by martyb on Sunday December 08 2019, @11:09PM   Printer-friendly

Luxembourg expands its space resources vision

Étienne Schneider, deputy prime minister of Luxembourg, frequently tells the story of how he got interested in building a space resources industry in the country. His efforts to diversify the country's economy several years ago led to a meeting with Pete Worden, at the time the director of NASA's Ames Research Center and a proponent of many far-reaching space concepts. During an Oct. 22 panel discussion at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Washington, he recalled Worden advocating for commercial space: "Why shouldn't you go for space mining activities?"

"When he explained all this to me, I thought two things," Schneider said. "First of all, what did the guy smoke before coming into the office? And second, how do I get him out of here?"

He eventually bought into Worden's vision, starting a space resources initiative that attracted companies to the country while enacting a space resources law like that in the United States. By the beginning of 2019, though, it looked like it might all be a bad trip. The two major startups in that industry, Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources, had been acquired by other companies with no interest in space resources. Worse, the Planetary Resources deal wiped out an investment of 12 million euros Luxembourg made in the startup.

Schneider is undaunted by those setbacks as he continues work to make Luxembourg a hotbed of entrepreneurial space, a scope that has expanded beyond, but has not abandoned, space resources. During the IAC, the country's year-old space agency signed an agreement with NASA to explore potential cooperation, building on an agreement Luxembourg signed with the U.S. Commerce Department in May. Just before the conference, Luxembourg announced it would partner with the European Space Agency on a space resources center in the country.

The article includes an interview with Schneider.

Previously: Luxembourg Announces Investment in Asteroid Mining

Related:


Original Submission

Related Stories

Luxembourg Announces Investment in Asteroid Mining 16 comments

Luxembourg has announced that it will invest in the fledgling asteroid mining industry:

The government of Luxembourg announced Wednesday that the country will be investing in the as-yet-unrealized industry of asteroid mining. The tiny European country will be funding research into the extraction of minerals from objects in space, working on legal and regulatory frameworks to govern such activities and, potentially, directly investing in companies active in the field. The nation's ministry of the economy says in a statement that the measures are meant "to position Luxembourg as a European hub in the exploration and use of space resources."

It's a futuristic move, but not a wholly startling one. Luxembourg is already home to SES, a satellite operator, and has previously moved to boost its international high-tech profile.

[...] Luxembourg hopes to address [the legality of space mining] too, with a formal legal framework of its own — possibly constructed with international input — to ensure that those who harvest minerals can be confident that they'll own what they bring home. "The aim is to stimulate economic growth on Earth and offer new horizons in space exploration," Luxembourg's ministry of the economy writes.

TechCrunch reports:

This announcement comes shortly after the United States took a huge step forward in making commercial space mining legal. President Obama signed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLCA) in November, which stated that U.S. companies are entitled to maintain property rights of resources they've obtained from outer space. [...] CSLCA explicitly outlined private sector rights which were only implicitly stated in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which is the prevailing international law on these matters. Now that CSLCA has been passed in the U.S., it reduces regulatory risk for domestic companies investing millions of dollars into the technology required to properly mine space resources. With today's announcement Luxembourg is on its way to become the second country to lay the groundwork required to make space mining a reality.


Original Submission

NASA Asteroid Mission -- Metals "Worth" Ten Thousand Quadrillion Dollars 70 comments

NASA wants to uncover the mystery behind the asteroid “16 Psyche.” that may contain a priceless treasure trove of minerals. “We’ve been to all the different planets, we’ve been to other asteroids. But we’ve never visited a body that has been made of entirely metal,” said Carol Polanskey, project scientist for the Psyche mission. Now NASA, led by researchers at Arizona State University, plans to send an unmanned spacecraft to orbit 16 Psyche – an asteroid roughly the size of Massachusetts, made of iron and other precious metals. The mission’s leader estimates that the iron alone on today’s market would be worth $10,000 quadrillion.

Previously: NASA Selects Two Missions to Visit Asteroids


Original Submission

Asteroid Mining Could Begin in 10-20 Years 47 comments

One expert... in the field of asteroid mining, has predicted that asteroid mining could begin in 10-20 years:

"Asteroid mining on a regular basis, such as terrestrial mining takes place today, with an established industry and an ecosystem of supporting services businesses for the mining companies, could start anywhere from 20 to 50 years is my personal opinion. But any industry must start somewhere, and I think we will see the first asteroid being mined 10 to 20 years from now, at which point the surrounding ecosystem will begin to grow," [J.L.] Galache said.

However, in order to successfully start asteroid mining, a few obstacles must first be overcome. One of these is insufficient knowledge about certain types of asteroids. Although our understanding of asteroids as a whole is advanced enough, gaining a better understanding of the nature of various types of near-Earth objects could be a critical factor in terms of success. Galache underlined that mining techniques will have to be tailored to specific types of asteroids. "For example, you will not send the same equipment to mine an iron-nickel asteroid as you would a carbonaceous asteroid, and you will not send the same equipment to mine a fine regolith-covered asteroid as a rubble pile. I do believe we have figured out what all the unknowns are and it is just a matter of finding answers and solutions to those unknowns," he noted.

NASA's Psyche mission will visit 16 Psyche, the most massive metallic M-type asteroid in the asteroid belt.


Original Submission

"Mission Success" for Arkyd-6 Asteroid Prospecting Demonstration Spacecraft 9 comments

Planetary Resources declares 'mission success' for Arkyd-6

The technology demonstration spacecraft Arkyd-6, built by Planetary Resources to test technologies for future asteroid prospecting, has completed all of its mission requirements, the company said April 24, 2018.

Launched on Jan. 12, 2018, atop an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle with 30 other satellites, the 22-pound (10-kilogram) Arkyd-6 was designed as a technology demonstrator for future missions to explore and categorize asteroids for eventual resource mining.

[...] The company said the spacecraft successfully deployed its solar panels, demonstrated using its attitude control, distributed computing systems, communications systems, and its Mid-Wavelength Infrared (MWIR) imager.

Planetary Resources said the MWIR is the first commercial imager of its kind in space. It is capable of detecting water and other resources on Earth, but the company hopes to use the technology to locate water and minerals on asteroids for potential mining.

The company plans to launch Arkyd-301 spacecraft to near-Earth asteroids starting in 2020. The article includes an animation of what an Algerian refinery looks like using the MWIR imager.

Previously: Planetary Resources' Arkyd-6 Ready for Launch


Original Submission

Chinese Researchers Propose Asteroid Mining Plan, Including a Heat Shield 16 comments

China's Plan to Seize a Near-Earth Asteroid Sounds Surprisingly Feasible

For centuries, humans have extracted minerals from the Earth with reckless abandon, but it's only a matter of time before our desire for gold, platinum, iron, tungsten, and other useful ores will exceed our planet's ability to provide them. But what if we could look beyond Earth for the raw materials we need to power the engines of industry? We'll spare you the disingenuous prattle about how this sounds like a sci-fi movie, because the fact of the matter is asteroid mining is right over the horizon, and a group of Chinese scientists is already trying to figure out how to snag a near-Earth asteroid out of space to harvest all its goodies on Earth.

"Sounds like science-fiction, but I believe it can be realized," Li Mingtao, Ph.D., a researcher at the National Space Science Center under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, tells Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua. Li and his colleagues introduced their plan at a competition in Shenzhen in which participants proposed innovative future technologies.

Their plan, which involves a constellation of satellites in an orbit around the sun that would search for asteroids, wrap a massive bag around an asteroid, and ferry it back to Earth, has significant engineering obstacles. Even once they get a spacecraft to intercept an asteroid and envelop it in some kind of strong material, they'll still have to get it here. That's where a giant, unfolding heat shield comes in, to keep the asteroid from burning up upon reentry. It may sound crazy, but it's just one of many equally ambitious ideas floating around in the asteroid mining field. And as far as asteroid mining schemes go, it sounds pretty reasonable.

So far, Li and his team have been working with the Qian Xuesen Laboratory of Space Technology, under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, to identify a suitable target, reports Xinhua. This will likely be a near-Earth asteroid about 30 feet in diameter. Even a small asteroid would be hard to wrangle, but it could still potentially contain billions of dollars worth of precious metals.

I'm envisioning two ways of getting asteroid chunks down to Earth without burning them up: either a controlled landing of a small portion (tens or hundreds of tons) of minerals using a BFR or other reusable rocket, or diverting a heat-shielded asteroid (or small chunk of one) into Earth orbit and then controlling its descent. Possibly into a desert instead of an ocean.

Related: Luxembourg Announces Investment in Asteroid Mining
NASA Asteroid Mission -- Metals "Worth" Ten Thousand Quadrillion Dollars
Asteroid Mining Could Begin in 10-20 Years
"Mission Success" for Arkyd-6 Asteroid Prospecting Demonstration Spacecraft (Planetary Resources has since run dry on funding)


Original Submission

The U.S. Geological Survey is Beginning to Take a Serious Look at Asteroid Mining 22 comments

The US Geological Survey Is Getting Serious About Space Resources and Mining

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is starting to earnestly evaluate space resources for future mining. Since its establishment in the 1870s, the USGS has focused pretty much solely on Earth. But now it's also investigating what benefits may or may not exist in tapping extraterrestrial water, minerals and metals.

[...] This past June, several USGS experts took part in a Space Resources Roundtable held at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. "The space-resources community will benefit greatly from working together with the USGS to assess the location and value of minerals, energy and water on the moon, Mars and asteroids," said Angel Abbud-Madrid, director of the Center for Space Resources at the Colorado School of Mines. [...] It's also worth noting that the new director of the USGS, Jim Reilly, is a geoscientist and former NASA astronaut. During his 13-year NASA career, Reilly flew on three space shuttle missions, conducted five spacewalks and racked up a total of more than 856 hours in orbit.

[...] [Laszlo Kestay, a research geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona,] pointed to the USGS' participation in space-resource workshops. In addition, there's the 2017 "Feasibility Study for the Quantitative Assessment of Mineral Resources in Asteroids" led by Kestay, which found that the water and metal resources of near-Earth asteroids are sufficient to support humanity should it become a fully spacefaring species. "At this point, we have done enough work to feel confident that the methods the USGS uses to assess mineral, energy and water resources on Earth can be used to assess space resources with minimal modification," Kestay said. "We have also done enough preliminary work to identify some areas where humanity's lack of knowledge will result in exceedingly large uncertainties in assessments undertaken today."

Also at Forbes.

Related: Luxembourg Announces Investment in Asteroid Mining
Asteroid Mining Could Begin in 10-20 Years
Chinese Researchers Propose Asteroid Mining Plan, Including a Heat Shield


Original Submission

Robotic Asteroid Mining Spacecraft Wins a Grant From NASA 3 comments

Submitted via IRC for RandomFactor

Robotic asteroid mining spacecraft wins a grant from NASA - Universe Today

Back in April, NASA once again put out the call for proposals for the next generation of robotic explorers and missions. As part of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program, this consisted of researchers, scientists, and entrepreneurs coming together to submit early studies of new concepts that could one-day help advance NASA's space exploration goals.

One concept that was selected for Phase III of development was a breakthrough mission and flight system called Mini Bee. This small, robotic mining craft was designed by the Trans Astronautica (TransAstra) Corporation to assist with deep-space missions. It is hoped that by leveraging this flight system architecture, the Mini-bee will enable the full-scale industrialization of space as well as human settlement.

The Mini-bee concept is essentially a technology-demonstrator for a family of flight system architectures known as Asteroid Provided In-situ Supplies (Apis). These systems range in size from the experimental Mini Bee (which weighs 250 kg or 550 lbs) to the larger Honey Bee and Queen Bee – which would be capable of capturing asteroids measuring 10 and 40 m (33 and 130 ft) in diameter, respectively.

The Mini Bee utilizes a series of innovative technologies, which includes optical mining method of resource harvesting (aka. laser mining), a spacecraft architecture that relies on sunlight to enable faster spacecraft, and an asteroid containment system similar to the one that was proposed for NASA's now-scrapped Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM).

Further Reading: NASA, TransAstra Corporation

Previous: https://www.universetoday.com/142543/saltwater-similar-to-the-earths-oceans-has-been-seen-on-europa-another-good-reason-why-we-really-need-to-visit-this-place


Original Submission

Luxembourg To Be First European Country To Legalise Cannabis 20 comments

Luxembourg has called on its EU neighbours to relax their drug laws as its health minister confirmed plans to become the first European country to legalise cannabis production and consumption.

“This drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work,” Etienne Schneider told Politico. “Forbidding everything made it just more interesting to young people … I’m hoping all of us will get a more open-minded attitude toward drugs.”

Residents over the age of 18 are expected to be able to buy the drug for recreational use legally within two years. The state will regulate production and distribution through a cannabis agency.

Draft legislation is expected to be unveiled later this year providing further detail on the types of cannabis that will be on sale and the level of tax that will be imposed.

Schneider said the legislation was likely to include a ban on non-residents buying cannabis in order to dissuade drug-tourism. Home-growing is also likely to be prohibited.

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  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 09 2019, @01:42AM (58 children)

    by c0lo (156) on Monday December 09 2019, @01:42AM (#929885) Journal

    Tell me a resource that one can't obtain at lower prices on Earth (and so we'd better go on asteroid mining for it) and maybe I'll believe it's not an actual bad trip.
    Smells more like a con to me, on the basis of:

    Worse, the Planetary Resources deal wiped out an investment of 12 million euros Luxembourg made in the startup.

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by PartTimeZombie on Monday December 09 2019, @02:34AM (1 child)

      by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Monday December 09 2019, @02:34AM (#929899)

      It's Luxembourg, so hiding rich people's money from the tax man is what they do.

      I would imagine they have better ways of doing that than through NASA or the ESA though.

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by DeathMonkey on Monday December 09 2019, @06:22PM

        by DeathMonkey (1380) on Monday December 09 2019, @06:22PM (#930153) Journal

        An offworld tax haven has got to be somebody's Holy Grail, though!

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday December 09 2019, @02:35AM (12 children)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday December 09 2019, @02:35AM (#929900) Journal

      If a company can somehow collect tons of pure gold, titanium, or other expensive minerals from asteroids, it would be well worth it to bring a load back to Earth.

      If most of an asteroid's velocity can be reduced by Earth's atmosphere using a heat shield, it might be possible to land them on Earth (slam it into an unpopulated area, desert, pre-existing crater, etc).

      One of the justifications for asteroid mining has been in situ resource utilization. Starship might kill that idea in the short term by making payloads cheap, and focus more attention on returning materials to Earth (it will supposedly be able to return up to 50 tons, and 50 tons of gold is over $2 billion).

      There has to be prospecting of asteroids before someone can find giant lumps of gold. Prospecting will cost at least millions even with Starship, likely take years, and doesn't necessarily offer any return on the investment. If a company was to partner with NASA on an asteroid mission to reduce costs, it might not be able to keep the results secret, so say hello to asteroid poaching. And even if valuable resources are found, it will take even more money to build a spacecraft capable of mining and returning to Earth. Maybe the industry should be nationalized. Let Luxembourg or some other country foot the bill.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 09 2019, @02:59AM

        by c0lo (156) on Monday December 09 2019, @02:59AM (#929911) Journal

        Let Luxembourg or some other country foot the bill.

        What's not to love about capitalism?
        "Other people's money"**, except with CEOs instead of govt bureaucrats. (large grin)

        ---

        ** or, in business parlance: "socialize costs".

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Monday December 09 2019, @03:32AM (3 children)

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Monday December 09 2019, @03:32AM (#929923) Journal

        Is extraterrestrial asteroid mining ever going to be cheaper than digging a little deeper than five miles into the asteroid we live on to see what's inside? At least there's a helluva furnace down there we could use. Why go millions of miles into empty space to catch a grain of sand when you only need to go at most 4000 miles into nice dense, already molten mineral rich rock?

        --
        La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday December 09 2019, @04:25AM (2 children)

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday December 09 2019, @04:25AM (#929936) Journal

          The gold you're looking for is probably not in the upper mantle. Molten gold in the core is kind of hot, and mixed up with a lot of not-molten-gold. How do you get it out, repeated petaton nuclear blasts? Maybe get a Death Star involved and collect the pieces.

          Bean counters will decide if asteroid mining makes sense. The cost of doing anything in space is about to drop by orders of magnitude, so that will be helpful.

          --
          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 09 2019, @05:17AM

            by c0lo (156) on Monday December 09 2019, @05:17AM (#929957) Journal

            The cost of doing anything in space is about to drop by orders of magnitude

            Don't hold your breath, tho'.
            Equally, it's not wise to breathe hot air; and even less to breathe hype instead of air.

            --
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
          • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Monday December 09 2019, @06:41AM

            by fustakrakich (6150) on Monday December 09 2019, @06:41AM (#929973) Journal

            The gold you're looking for is probably not in the upper mantle.

            We might not have to go that far at all. It doesn't have to be molten. All that crust and mantle are still swirling around, so on the way down you might bump into a vein or two. On top of that, you clear out some nice huge underground caverns.

            Bean counters will decide if asteroid mining makes sense.

            It is their point of view I'm taking. Going underground seems cheaper than hunting asteroids.

            --
            La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
      • (Score: 2) by Pslytely Psycho on Monday December 09 2019, @03:42AM (6 children)

        by Pslytely Psycho (1218) on Monday December 09 2019, @03:42AM (#929925)

        Having never heard of a possible gold asteroid, I googled it and found:

        https://www.foxnews.com/science/nasa-headed-towards-giant-golden-asteroid-that-could-make-everyone-on-earth-a-billionaire [foxnews.com] (and obviously make gold completely worthless so we could all have gold toilets)

        Wow, but, let's look at what NASA actually says since the only source listed is The Sun..real reputable source there.

        https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/asteroids-comets-and-meteors/asteroids/16-psyche/in-depth/ [nasa.gov]

        OK, it's real and there is a mission planned to visit it! And they think it's possibly a planetary core made up of.....uh,....wait a minute....iron and nickle? Not one word about gold?

        Leave it to NASA to take all the fun out of it..../s

        --
        Alex Jones lawyer inspires new TV series: CSI Moron Division.
        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday December 09 2019, @04:15AM (4 children)

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday December 09 2019, @04:15AM (#929933) Journal

          I never said anything about a gold asteroid, but since you brought up Psyche:

          https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/mission-rare-metal-asteroid-could-spark-space-mining-boom-ncna1027971 [nbcnews.com]

          Angel Abbud-Madrid, director of the Center for Space Resources at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, said he’s eager to see what the close-up look at Psyche will reveal about metal asteroids, which are relatively rare in the solar system.

          “We know very little about them,” Abbud-Madrid said. “We’ve only seen these asteroids in telescopes, so these are very unique objects.”

          Observations from telescopes suggest that Psyche is mostly made of nickel and iron, but Abbud-Madrid said a visiting spacecraft could also find that the space rock is abundant in metals that are even more valuable — such as gold and platinum.

          [...] But experts caution that even if Psyche holds lots of precious metal and it can be brought back to Earth — a feat that would require technology and infrastructure that don’t yet exist — the monetary value could be much lower.

          “Psyche is a huge asteroid, and if it’s all highly concentrated metal, then yes, that’s an exorbitant amount,” Abbud-Madrid said. “But obviously if you bring back such a large amount, the market value will go down.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_mining [wikipedia.org]

          Official estimates indicate that total world gold production since the beginning of civilization has been around 6,109,928,000 troy ounces (190,040.0 t)

          Starship could theoretically return up to 50 tons (50,000 kg) of gold to Earth (mining spacecraft could collect it, travel to LEO, and have it picked up by a Starship). It would take a lot of trips to collapse the gold market. But if it ends up costing $100 million to mine $2 billion worth of gold, it might be worth it for a long time. Quadrillion dollar estimates for asteroids make for fun headlines.

          The largest gold nuggets in Earth's crust seem to have been in the 50-100 kg range. Gold inside the Earth's core is likely lost forever. Maybe protoplanetary asteroids have larger chunks that can be accessed. Maybe not. That's why the prospecting spacecraft is important. Who will fund that?

          --
          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 09 2019, @04:28AM

            by c0lo (156) on Monday December 09 2019, @04:28AM (#929937) Journal

            Coming back to the Fox linky [foxnews.com] (published first by The Sun [thesun.co.uk] - no, not that Sun).

            Two space mining companies – backed by big name celebs – are gearing up for a gold rush after asteroid ownership was made legal in 2015.

            Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources each have their eyes on the 2011 UW158 asteroid which is twice the size of the Tower of London and worth up to $5.7 trillion.

            Ummm... come again? You mean, those two mentioned in TFS?
            Coincidence? I don't think so.

            --
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
          • (Score: 2) by Pslytely Psycho on Monday December 09 2019, @06:52PM (2 children)

            by Pslytely Psycho (1218) on Monday December 09 2019, @06:52PM (#930162)

            No, not directly. The part of your comment that got me interested in what we may have discovered about metal asteroids was:

            "If a company can somehow collect tons of pure gold, titanium, or other expensive minerals from asteroids, it would be well worth it to bring a load back to Earth."

            Basically I had never heard of any other metals than iron and nickle being found in a metallic asteroid. I read a lot about space exploration and science, but obviously not everything. So asteroids have been one of the things I have read little recent information on.

            I probably should of said: Having never heard of gold being found as part of the makeup of an asteroid. instead of: Never having heard of a gold asteroid.

            I never meant to infer that you said gold asteroid. I apologize for not being more specific, as your comments always seem to be well researched. I assure you I never meant to put words in your mouth.

            However Fox News did make such a statement, and only linked to the front page of the Sun rather than the article claimed to be the source. And there is no way I'm searching that website for anything. CBS which I didn't bother with a link, as it nearly duplicated NASA except for saying "possible rare and valuable minerals." It linked to the NASA article that did not state anything beyond the typical iron and nickle mix. Which was the point of my comment.

            You just got me interested in possibilities I had not explored. A good thing.

            --
            Alex Jones lawyer inspires new TV series: CSI Moron Division.
            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday December 09 2019, @07:22PM (1 child)

              by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday December 09 2019, @07:22PM (#930179) Journal

              https://phys.org/news/2011-09-gold.html [phys.org]

              The theory is that the current gold we have in the crust came from asteroid impacts after Earth had cooled.

              So it's reasonable that there are asteroids out there that did not hit anything, have been hanging around unmolested for 4.5 billion years, and contain these metals.

              Amounts of gold, platinum, etc. in a giant metal asteroid like Psyche are speculative. But it's so massive that even a small % could dominate gold supplies. And it appears to have formed under the same conditions as Earth's core (gold and iron sinking to the center), only the whole thing is "the center", mostly solid and much easier to access than Earth's core.

              The bad headlines related to asteroid mining are not going away. Fox likes them, Express likes them. Then you have this fancy website [asterank.com] that has put dollar values on thousands of asteroids. Ryugu is valued at over $82 billion, many are simply listed as >$100 trillion.

              --
              [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
              • (Score: 2) by Pslytely Psycho on Tuesday December 10 2019, @01:51AM

                by Pslytely Psycho (1218) on Tuesday December 10 2019, @01:51AM (#930412)

                Damn that is a fancy looking website. So much work for speculation.

                I wish you were wrong about bad headlines, but that is another topic altogether....
                A fascinating topic I will now have to read up on as my knowledge is apparently very out of date.
                Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

                A very good day to you!

                --
                Alex Jones lawyer inspires new TV series: CSI Moron Division.
        • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 09 2019, @04:19AM

          by c0lo (156) on Monday December 09 2019, @04:19AM (#929934) Journal

          Leave it to NASA to take all the fun out of it Fox....

          FTFY
          Maybe it's just me but, considering Fox is such a lame excuse for a joke, I can't blame NASA for doing it

          --
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Monday December 09 2019, @02:43AM (25 children)

      by Immerman (3985) on Monday December 09 2019, @02:43AM (#929903)

      Once the technology is worked out?

      Platinum, gold, pretty much all the rare heavy elements by the megaton. They're rare on Earth because they all settled into the core long before the lighter elements cooled and solidified on the surface. Current theory is that metallic asteroids are the cooled remnants of the metallic cores of other proto-worlds that were smashed up by collisions - which means cubic kilometers of all the heavy elements that are hard to find here, ripe for the taking.

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 09 2019, @03:02AM

        by c0lo (156) on Monday December 09 2019, @03:02AM (#929913) Journal

        once the if a cheap enough technology is worked out?

        Platinum, gold, pretty much all the rare heavy elements by the megaton

        When the production gets to megaton, it will be cheaper.
        You figured out why De Beers [wikipedia.org] exist yet?

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 1, Disagree) by fustakrakich on Monday December 09 2019, @03:46AM (23 children)

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Monday December 09 2019, @03:46AM (#929927) Journal

        which means cubic kilometers of all the heavy elements that are hard to find here, ripe for the taking.

        I'll bet you a dollar that it would be cheaper to pump molten metals from the planet's core than it is to go prospecting millions of of miles into outer space for a few tons of uncertainty. Presently, both have an equal chance, but at least the core is a sure thing. Break the drill up there on the asteroid, who's gonna fix it?

        --
        La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday December 09 2019, @04:36AM

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday December 09 2019, @04:36AM (#929940) Journal

          Team Asteroid: We can approach and "land" on asteroids.

          Team Core: We'll reach 1% of the depth to the outer core some day.

          --
          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday December 09 2019, @04:47AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 09 2019, @04:47AM (#929943) Journal

          I'll bet you a dollar that it would be cheaper to pump molten metals from the planet's core than it is to go prospecting millions of of miles into outer space for a few tons of uncertainty.

          I direct my dollar of winnings to go to SN and its operation. Sorry, that assertion is ridiculous even by current space industry standards. At least in space, you can redirect an asteroid to impact Earth, and then dig those tons of uncertainty out of the crater.

          But pumping stuff out of Earth's core? It's not going to be unobtanium drills made by the finest unicorns that'll do it. No, it's going to be crazy ass exotic on a planetary scale. Maybe build gray goo nanotech that takes the Earth apart. Maybe a Earth-wide sonic network rips pieces of the core loose and pull it to the surface through thousands of miles of overburden. Greg Bear shit. [wikipedia.org]

        • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Monday December 09 2019, @05:58AM (20 children)

          by Immerman (3985) on Monday December 09 2019, @05:58AM (#929963)

          I'd take that bet in a heartbeat. Space is an incredibly benign environment in comparison - as warm or cold as you want it to be with the help of nothing more than a big mylar umbrella, no gravity to wrestle against, and the distances are largely irrelevant unless you're in a hurry. We've already landed on them before, the hard part will be learning to mine in vacuum and micro-gravity, or alternately figuring out how to dump asteroids into Earth's gravity well without starting a war.

          The Earth's core on the other hand is is about 5000km away straight down, through temperatures climbing from 1000C to 5000C. For comparison the deepest hole we've ever dug was all of 7 miles deep, and is estimated to have gotten only a third of the way through the eggshell-thin crust.

          It'll be expensive getting stuff into orbit - but assuming SpaceX manages to deliver on Starship they will be bringing the costs down from $1,300/lb to $10/lb within the next decade or two.

          • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Monday December 09 2019, @06:56AM (14 children)

            by fustakrakich (6150) on Monday December 09 2019, @06:56AM (#929975) Journal

            $10/lb, that I hope to see, but in two decades? The technology is still so primitive. What kind of propulsion would work at that price?

            For comparison the deepest hole we've ever dug was all of 7 miles deep

            That's why I recommend we start working on that issue. We don't have to go all the way to the core. The crust can't be that barren. And tapping into all that free heat has its own benefits.

            --
            La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
            • (Score: 3, Informative) by Immerman on Monday December 09 2019, @08:58AM (12 children)

              by Immerman (3985) on Monday December 09 2019, @08:58AM (#929989)

              Methalox engines. Starship/Superheavy is supposed to initially have a 100Mg=220,000lb payload to LEO, using less than $1M in fuel, with an estimated $2M total launch cost once reusability goals are met. That's $10/lb right there.

              The crust is barren. Think of Earth like a mud pit filled with heavy metals, that's kept warm and slowly moving for several billion years. Almost everything heavy settles to the bottom of the pit, and a froth of the lightest stuff forms on the top. That's the crust,a paltry few dozen miles of silicon and oxygen (~7.34%) with a bit of aluminum(8%), iron(5%),calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium mixed in (~24.3% total) The last 1.4% is also mostly relatively common elements - copper is around 0.01%, nickle and zinc are only present in trace amounts. The rare elements don't even register.

              Compare to the core, which is thought to be mostly iron, with as much as 10% nickle, and enough gold to cover the Earth's surface more than a foot deep. All at twice the boiling (not melting) point of steel if not for the insane pressures - just at the bottom of the mantle, ~1000 miles down, it's already at 1.4 million atmospheres, and you're still dealing with an element mix believed to be very similar to the surface, though getting slightly more iron rich.

              • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday December 09 2019, @11:06AM

                by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday December 09 2019, @11:06AM (#930001) Journal

                For fusty: $10/lb is not even the bottom. 100 metric tons is the minimum it is planned to lift, 150 metric tons is the optimistic target. So it could end up being as low as $6/lb.

                Add a decade or a few and we could talk about larger Starship-like rockets with slightly improved $/kg or nuclear thermal rockets.

                --
                [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
              • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Monday December 09 2019, @04:00PM

                by Immerman (3985) on Monday December 09 2019, @04:00PM (#930089)

                Oops, misplaced decimal - the Earth's crust is 73.4% silicon and oxygen

              • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 09 2019, @10:32PM (9 children)

                by c0lo (156) on Monday December 09 2019, @10:32PM (#930293) Journal

                Methalox engines.

                Estimate the energy required to safely land a megaton of stuff from the asteroid belt on Earth. See how much methalox you'll have to burn. Don't forget the energy cost of bringing that methalox in the asteroid belt too.

                Should be back-of-a-napkin computation using high school knowledge.

                --
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
                • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday December 10 2019, @12:00AM (8 children)

                  by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday December 10 2019, @12:00AM (#930357)

                  Well, you wouldn't move it all at once. And why would you bring methalox to the asteroid belt? One of the big reasons for choosing it is that you can easily synthesize it anywhere there's water and carbon, which means pretty much everywhere in the solar system.

                  As for the cost - delta-V between LEO and the asteroid belt is lower than between Earth's surface and LEO, so if Starship brings launch costs to LEO down to $10/kg, then you're probably looking at considerably less than that to transport stuff from the asteroid belt to LEO using the same technology. And Starship is supposed to be able to return half it's launch payload back to the surface from orbit, so call it $20/kg to land materials - assuming nobody is launching anything to orbit on the same round-trip flight. Really that's horribly wasteful though - all you really need for returning raw materials is some thermal shielding and a simple guidance system, not something capable of getting back to orbit.

                  But lets be conservative and call it $30/kg transportation costs from the asteroid belt to Earth's surface. Meanwhile gold is currently selling for ~$40,000/kg - even if it eventually lost 99% of its value in the face of a huge glut of asteroid riches, it'd still be selling for more than 10x the transportation costs. Plenty cost effective, no matter what the energy budget is.

                  And of course, rockets are a terribly inefficient way to move things through space - we use them largely because none of the more efficient ways we've come up work well in an atmosphere. But rail guns, centrifugal slings, etc. all work great in a vacuum, and would let us drastically reduce transportation costs between LEO and the Belt. Heck, it'd be handy for reentry too, if you didn't want to worry about heat shielding . Just use your orbital catapult to launch the payload backwards fast enough come to a stop relative to Earth, and you only have to shed the tiny amount of energy gained from falling a couple hundred miles. Heck, cast your metal into an airfoil shape and you could probably glide it to a nice gentle crash-landing exactly where you wanted it with just some minimal control surfaces.

                  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday December 10 2019, @12:12AM (7 children)

                    by c0lo (156) on Tuesday December 10 2019, @12:12AM (#930361) Journal

                    Will you try to get Joule costs rather than $ cost?
                    'Cause, you know, physics is somehow more immutable than the economy.

                    --
                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
                    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday December 10 2019, @01:08AM (6 children)

                      by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday December 10 2019, @01:08AM (#930396)

                      Okay... lets just look at the specific orbital energy

                      Orbital specific energy for an elliptical orbit is e = -G(m1+m2)/2r
                      Where G is the gravitaitonal constant 6.7e−11 m3⋅kg−1⋅s−2
                      m1 is the mass of the primary (the sun) = 2.0e30kg
                      m2 is negligible compared to that, and r is the semi-major axis of the orbit.

                      Earth's orbit = -446MJ/kg
                      16 Psyche orbit = -153 MJ/kg
                      difference = 293MJ/kg

                      So, to get 1kg of cargo from Earth's orbit to 16 Psyche, or back again, matching speed with the planet(oid)s at either end, takes the energy equivalent of about 2.3 gallons of gasoline (127MJ/gal U.S.)

                      Moving around the solar system doesn't actually take an outrageous amount of energy if you're not in a hurry. Getting off Earth's surface does, because you're throwing away a massive amount of energy just to keep from falling out of the sky. And the rocket equation makes things ugly fast. But once you're in orbit there's actually a lot of ways to avoid the rocket equation, assuming you're planning to move enough cargo to be worth building the infrastructure.

                      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday December 10 2019, @02:58AM (5 children)

                        by c0lo (156) on Tuesday December 10 2019, @02:58AM (#930440) Journal

                        So, to get 1kg of cargo from Earth's orbit to 16 Psyche, or back again, matching speed with the planet(oid)s at either end, takes the energy equivalent of about 2.3 gallons of gasoline (127MJ/gal U.S.)

                        Twice of that energy is close to minimal energy expenditure - unless you don't care if your stuff gets delivered some centuries later, that is.

                        "Soft landing" is a mandatory requisite, yes. I'll assume there will be magic level science to brake the LEO->Earth without any energy expenditure (aerobraking like 1000K over hell temperature), you'll have:
                        1. getting the fuel for a 2-ways trip in orbit - and, gosh, the rocket-equation-like considerations eat you alive there
                        2. make your decision how expedited you want the asteroid/Earth delivery - cheaper will certainly add years to the delivery term

                        Also, don't forget the Ox side that you need for that gasoline - assuming carbon based fuel, the Ox side is about twice the mass of your carbon in that gasoline if you burn it in oxygen, maybe more if you decide to use other oxidizers (I don't know, some perchlorates in which the chlorine doesn't contribute too much at the energy budget's bottom line but still have mass).
                        So your "gasoline mass equiv" gets you to about (12kg/gasoline + 24kg oxidizer) per kg of "wanted payload" to be shifted back and forth over various distances (the "2.3 gallons of gasoline" have a mass of about 6kg).

                        --
                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
                        • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday December 10 2019, @04:06AM (4 children)

                          by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday December 10 2019, @04:06AM (#930454)

                          >Twice of that energy is close to minimal energy expenditure - unless you don't care if your stuff gets delivered some centuries later, that is.

                          Nope. You're probably thinking of using the Interplanetary Transport Network, which takes advantage of circuitous gravitational slingshots to make the journey while spending almost zero energy (it scavenges orbital energy from the planets it slingshots) That path can indeed take a *very* long time, but might be worth considering if you wanted to move truly massive amounts of material at once for relatively low cost. Though without any nearby planets I'm not sure the Belt actually has a gravitational "on ramp" to get started.

                          If you're actually willing to spend the energy I listed, then you'd take a Hohmann transfer orbit, the minimum-energy direct route. One burst of acceleration to leave your first orbit on an elliptical path that just reaches the other, and another burst once you get their to circularize your orbit at the new distance. Takes half an orbit to pull off, so a year or two year between Earth and the Belt. You'd want a faster journey if you were moving radiation-sensitive cargo like people, but metal doesn't care, it's been sitting in this environment for billions of years, a couple more won't hurt it. You could go faster if you wanted to, but if you're depending on rockets you'd probably need a good reason, because twice the fuel won't get you moving anywhere close to twice as fast. You can also only make the journey when Earth is in the right alignment - so probably a few months window out of every couple years.

                          > Also, don't forget the Ox side that you need for that gasoline
                          Heck, if you're burning the gasoline in a rocket you're going to need a LOT more thanks to the rocket equation. You asked how much energy was needed - I only mentioned gasoline as a "real world" reference point. If you wanted to actually use anywhere close to that little energy you'd need a maglev "railgun" launcher, a massive centrifuge, a laser-pushing station... something that would avoid the need for reaction mass on the vehicle to avoid the rocket equation.

                          That's why I initially mentioned estimated Starship costs - they've already worried about the rocket equation and figured out what they think they can get the costs down to, rocket maintenance and all. The energy delivered to the payload is a small fraction of that.

                          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday December 10 2019, @05:40AM (3 children)

                            by c0lo (156) on Tuesday December 10 2019, @05:40AM (#930469) Journal

                            You're probably thinking of using the Interplanetary Transport Network...
                            If you're actually willing to spend the energy I listed, then you'd take a Hohmann transfer orbit...

                            That's what I meant, sorry for not spelling it explicitly.

                            Heck, if you're burning the gasoline in a rocket you're going to need a LOT more thanks to the rocket equation. You asked how much energy was needed - I only mentioned gasoline as a "real world" reference point.

                            (there were so many other things that were ignored. Rocket engine efficiency, the energy to mine the asteroid at destination, unfolding/assembling the "space sled" to load and send the stuff back - doesn't make sense to use the same "rocket airframe", etc)

                            Heck, let me spell the point I wanted to make, as clear as I can. So here I go:

                            "The asteroid mining at megaton scale can be theoretically done with today's usual technology (chem energy), but is so impractical that it is likely to happen only after the space propulsion turns nuclear in practical terms (as in "you'd need at least 3-orders-of-magnitude-higher-than-chem propulsion on the energy density [soylentnews.org] scale").
                            Until then, if you take 'asteroid mining in practical terms, starting tomorrow' seriously, it is likely you qualify in the category of intelligence that makes one prone to be parted with one's money."

                            --
                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
                            • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday December 10 2019, @06:14AM (2 children)

                              by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday December 10 2019, @06:14AM (#930475)

                              Okay, fair enough. Let me make a counterpoint:

                              Unless you're chasing Bezo's dream of moving all industry off Earth, there's no really much call for moving megatons of common materials around. Nor would you necessarily want to start shipping megatons of rare metals back to Earth - you'd devastate the market. But millions of megatons are there waiting to be brought back by anyone with the capacity, in whatever quantities they can manage. If it's possible to get 1 ton of rare metal back to Earth at a handsome profit (and at $40 million per tonne for gold, transportation at least won't be a serious cost concern), then somebody is going to do it. And once they prove it can be done, it'll be a gold rush to make California look like a day-old buffet line.

                              • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday December 10 2019, @07:00AM (1 child)

                                by c0lo (156) on Tuesday December 10 2019, @07:00AM (#930487) Journal

                                If it's possible to get 1 ton of rare metal back to Earth at a handsome profit (and at $40 million per tonne for gold, transportation at least won't be a serious cost concern), then somebody is going to do it.

                                Agreed. With the note that's a big if (and an unlikely one at the current tech level) - be it only for the reason that, to get them back, one needs to "go get it" in the first place and that's where the head-scratching starts.

                                --
                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
                                • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday December 10 2019, @02:22PM

                                  by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday December 10 2019, @02:22PM (#930567)

                                  I don't know about head-scratching. We've already figured out how to get there, and done so repeatedly. The expense is currently a bit high, but we've got two orders of magnitude of cost reduction on the horizon.

                                  There'll be some challenges initially developing the technology, but you're dealing with metal deposits that are far purer than anything found on Earth outside a scrapyard - the biggest challenges are probably going to be adapting mining and refining technology to work in space. And probably basic industrial technology as well as mining operations are scaled up beyond proof of concept - fortunately iron-casting is simple technology with very low requirements (sand, a binding agent for it, and a heat source that could easily be provided by a large parabolic reflector and/or fresnel lens array), and we even have prototype 3D iron printers already, (sand too) so it shouldn't be hard to start putting the waste-heap to work.

            • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Monday December 09 2019, @10:56AM

              by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday December 09 2019, @10:56AM (#929999) Journal

              SpaceX is on track to start launching customer (telecom) payloads using Starship around 2021-2022, not 2040.

              The fuel doesn't matter that much (hydrogen was considered early on). Some advantages of methane are that you can manufacture it on Mars and it burns more cleanly than kerosene, allowing easier reuse of the system without refurbishment.

              What does matter is full reusability and in-orbit refueling. Not throwing away part of your rocket every launch saves millions. In-orbit refueling allows you to get a full 100+ tons almost anywhere in the solar system instead of 5-10 tons, and cut trip time to places like Mars.

              The choice of steel instead of carbon fiber also reduces costs since it is not ablative and can be reused more. It's cheaper, easier to work with (allowing SpaceX to build outside), and could be repaired or disassembled by astronauts.

              --
              [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday December 09 2019, @07:30AM (4 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 09 2019, @07:30AM (#929979) Journal
            No matter how sexy SpaceX's rockets get, they can't get around the fact that they're mostly propellant. I doubt they'll get below $100 per pound, because that's the limit from propellant costs and a reasonable assumption about mass fraction to orbit - something that SpaceX won't get around in the next 20 years. $10 per pound is space tether territory and a limit imposed by the energy cost of putting something in orbit. You won't get past that without a radical drop in the cost of energy.
            • (Score: 3, Informative) by Immerman on Monday December 09 2019, @09:04AM (2 children)

              by Immerman (3985) on Monday December 09 2019, @09:04AM (#929991)

              Starship+Superheavy is supposed to *initially* haul 220,000lbs to LEO, with an estimated $1M in fuel, and $2M total launch costs with target reusability. One of the benefits of using natural gas rather than RP-1(ultra-refined kerosene), is that you don't need the expensive heavy refinement - relatively pure methane is cheap, and it's easy to make it much purer if needed.

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday December 09 2019, @02:50PM (1 child)

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 09 2019, @02:50PM (#930066) Journal
                I've heard that claim. I'll believe it when I see it. Good point about natural gas.
                • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Monday December 09 2019, @03:43PM

                  by Immerman (3985) on Monday December 09 2019, @03:43PM (#930078)

                  Yeah, we'll see about the rest of the launch costs, but the cost of fuel is probably a pretty safe bet. And given SpaceX's track record thus far it's probably a question of when, not if, the other costs can be brought down.

            • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Monday December 09 2019, @11:21AM

              by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday December 09 2019, @11:21AM (#930003) Journal

              https://www.space.com/spacex-starship-flight-passenger-cost-elon-musk.html [space.com]

              $2 million launch cost
              $900,000 of that cost is propellant
              100,000 kilograms launched at minimum to LEO, 150,000 kilograms has been the target

              So the cost can be closer to $6/lb.

              SpaceX may decide to get into terrestrial manufacturing of liquid methane and oxygen to lower its fuel costs. If they do manage to make it on-site, then they don't need to have it trucked in from somewhere else (a potential hazard [wcvb.com]). The factory could be powered by Tesla solar equipment. This does not necessarily make economic sense anytime soon, but it's a potential path to a $1.5 million or lower launch cost.

              --
              [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Monday December 09 2019, @03:40AM (2 children)

      Nah, man, you're falling for their con. They don't care about the minerals, they want the land. I mean, shit, it wouldn't even take all that big of an asteroid to double the size of Luxembourg.

      --
      My rights don't end where your fear begins.
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 09 2019, @04:10AM

        by c0lo (156) on Monday December 09 2019, @04:10AM (#929931) Journal

        Meh, lunatics have more land. With a better location.

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 09 2019, @06:13AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 09 2019, @06:13AM (#929970)

        They should go to war with Belgium and reclaim the province.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday December 09 2019, @04:21AM (10 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 09 2019, @04:21AM (#929935) Journal

      Tell me a resource that one can't obtain at lower prices on Earth

      What's your time coordinate? If you're talking now, even the pixie dust and unicorns are cheaper on Earth. 100 years from now? Could be very different.

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 09 2019, @04:37AM (9 children)

        by c0lo (156) on Monday December 09 2019, @04:37AM (#929941) Journal

        What's your time coordinate?

        You want it in Stardate units or is AD good enough for you? (grin)

        100 years from now? Could be very different.

        Well, let us reach that moment** and we'll engage in market speculation at that time.
        Anything earlier is at least a gamble, more likely a con.

        ---

        ** I wouldn't even dare to table a number of years.
        I'd rather use "when human space technology will be able to generate 100Ktons propulsion continuously for tens of years" as a precondition.

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday December 09 2019, @04:49AM (8 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 09 2019, @04:49AM (#929947) Journal
          Point is, you're extrapolating present capabilities and economics to the future. That's not going to work.
          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 09 2019, @05:01AM (7 children)

            by c0lo (156) on Monday December 09 2019, @05:01AM (#929955) Journal

            Point is, you're extrapolating present capabilities and economics to the future.

            On the contrary, I'm saying that it doesn't make sense to speculate about the consequences until we get to it (at least this is what I'm trying to).

            Because the way we get to that future may influence heavily the value of the "let's mine the asteroids".
            One thing is clear: a cost/benefit analysis is rational no matter how you define the "value" axis (monetary or energy units or "advancement of human race" or "number of underwater-woven baskets per second"). As of today, "mining asteroids" doesn't make sense.

            --
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday December 09 2019, @06:11AM (6 children)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 09 2019, @06:11AM (#929969) Journal

              On the contrary, I'm saying that it doesn't make sense to speculate about the consequences until we get to it (at least this is what I'm trying to).

              Why? We speculate about the future all the time: weather, insurance, raising kids, planning events and trips, good and bad possibilities, etc. And once we've speculated, we can then begin to determine how those consequences could affect us and possibly plan for or insure against those consequences. Or gamble like a grandma on a Vegas hot streak. The future happens, might as well be prepared for it.

              Here, early stage space mining really doesn't impact us directly on Earth. If those sexy dreams happen on a large scale, then you could end up with some interesting stuff like gold-plated plumbing. But you'll have plumbing anyway. What's more likely is that a large economy off of Earth, will help boost the Earth-side economy to some degree. So somewhat more jobs, wealth, etc than there would be otherwise. And maybe some cool stories and knowledge from all that space activity for those who care about such things.

              OTOH, for those trying to do such things or responsible for evaluating such things (or other dependent secondary activities), speculation is necessary. Here, a politician is proposing to spend a lot of public money on space industry and commerce (appears to be more than just mining). The Luxembourg public at the least has a responsibility to evaluate the likelihood those expenditures will be worth the cost. Thus, the need to speculate on the consequences of those expenditures and funded activity naturally occurs.

              • (Score: 3, Interesting) by c0lo on Monday December 09 2019, @09:16AM (4 children)

                by c0lo (156) on Monday December 09 2019, @09:16AM (#929994) Journal

                Why? We speculate about the future all the time:

                Plenty of people smoke cigarettes (me included), it doesn't make from smoking a rationally good choice.
                (In other words, I'm not accepting the "zillions can't be wrong" as a valid argument)

                And once we've speculated, we can then begin to determine how those consequences could affect us and possibly plan for or insure against those consequences

                While projecting makes sense for one or two technology advances ahead, further than that is like intellectual masturbation - pleasurable as it may be, it's likely a waste of time and/or brain power.
                Or a con game.

                Here, early stage space mining really doesn't impact us directly on Earth

                [citation needed]
                In the same sense, spending resources to curb or lower the carbon emissions doesn't impact us, and yet you are constantly crying about waste of resources better used in ... whatevs you think is worth more.

                If those sexy dreams happen on a large scale, then you could end up with some interesting stuff like gold-plated plumbing.

                Gold-plated plumbing brings no extra benefit to using not gold plated one.
                Solving the treatment of pig waste [wikipedia.org] in NC [theguardian.com] and 11 other states [scientificamerican.com] is just one example of things that are more important than gold-plated plumbing (be it for the reason that antibiotic loaded pig waste is a perfect ground to select bugs capable of eating a human alive).
                You know, the kind of problems on which the extra cost of inefficient asteroid mining will irrationaly drain from the funds available.

                OTOH, for those trying to do such things or responsible for evaluating such things (or other dependent secondary activities), speculation is necessary. Here, a politician is proposing to spend a lot of public money on space industry and commerce (appears to be more than just mining). The Luxembourg public at the least has a responsibility to evaluate the likelihood those expenditures will be worth the cost. Thus, the need to speculate on the consequences of those expenditures and funded activity naturally occurs.

                Feasibility studies aren't speculation. Yes, they include an element of projection, but I don't accept the term of speculation as appropriate for it.

                --
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday December 09 2019, @02:47PM

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 09 2019, @02:47PM (#930064) Journal

                  (In other words, I'm not accepting the "zillions can't be wrong" as a valid argument)

                  Ok. So what? We have a zillion working examples that even rudimentary planning for the future works better than not doing it.

                  And once we've speculated, we can then begin to determine how those consequences could affect us and possibly plan for or insure against those consequences

                  While projecting makes sense for one or two technology advances ahead, further than that is like intellectual masturbation - pleasurable as it may be, it's likely a waste of time and/or brain power.

                  Because?

                  Gold-plated plumbing brings no extra benefit to using not gold plated one.

                  Corrosion resistance for starters.

                  Solving the treatment of pig waste [wikipedia.org] in NC [theguardian.com] and 11 other states [scientificamerican.com] is just one example of things that are more important than gold-plated plumbing (be it for the reason that antibiotic loaded pig waste is a perfect ground to select bugs capable of eating a human alive).

                  That's quite true. Luxembourg hasn't solved the problem of pig waste in North Carolina. What's up with that? Well, ignoring also that pig waste is a solved problem and that it's not Luxembourg's job to do so, should one decide to solve it, that is.

                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday December 09 2019, @03:32PM

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 09 2019, @03:32PM (#930077) Journal
                  Besides, if you spent less time telling us how useless this speculation activity is, you might learn something.
                • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Monday December 09 2019, @04:09PM (1 child)

                  by Immerman (3985) on Monday December 09 2019, @04:09PM (#930092)

                  >Plenty of people smoke cigarettes (me included), it doesn't make from smoking a rationally good choice.

                  Do you also not save for retirement? I assume you didn't go to school - no value there unless you're speculating about the future. Heck, not much point in budgeting so that you'll be able to pay rent next month, why speculate on the future, right? There's no guarantee you'll even be alive by then.

                  Almost everyone speculates on the future all the time. The only real question is whether you include developing technology (and politics, etc) in you speculation, in which case you'll likely be wrong, or if you assume everything will keep on mostly like it has been, in which case you'll *definitely* be wrong.

                  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 09 2019, @10:23PM

                    by c0lo (156) on Monday December 09 2019, @10:23PM (#930289) Journal

                    Do you also not save for retirement? [etc]

                    'zillions do it' is not an rational argument to do something. Turns out that other rational decisions for doing or not doing something also exist.

                    The only real question is whether you include developing technology (and politics, etc) in you speculation

                    I have a bunch many other real questions actually exist. But if thinking that's the only real question makes you feel better, by all means, go ahead.

                    --
                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
              • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday December 09 2019, @11:24AM

                by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday December 09 2019, @11:24AM (#930004) Journal

                c0lo does not require gold-plated plumbing. He is preparing to be a future midsection participant in a human centipede.

                --
                [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 2) by Muad'Dave on Monday December 09 2019, @12:22PM (1 child)

      by Muad'Dave (1413) on Monday December 09 2019, @12:22PM (#930016)

      Helium-3 [wikipedia.org]

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 09 2019, @10:40PM

        by c0lo (156) on Monday December 09 2019, @10:40PM (#930296) Journal

        Bravo. A promising start.
        Don't stop there, tho'. Show that the asteroids contain more He3 than Earth and the cost of harvesting it and bringing it here is lower than obtaining it by other means on Earth (like neutron bombardment of lithium targets).

        (Then, maybe you'll have some time to show why He3 is actually valuable and worth considering going through all that trouble to get it?)

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2) by cmdrklarg on Monday December 09 2019, @09:26PM

      by cmdrklarg (5048) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 09 2019, @09:26PM (#930253)

      Asteroid mining isn't meant for bringing stuff down. The idea is to use the mined stuff up there.

      I can see them bringing rare stuff back down, but stuff like iron and nickel? Build stuff in space.

      --
      Answer now is don't give in; aim for a new tomorrow.
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 09 2019, @04:29AM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 09 2019, @04:29AM (#929938)

    Best use for asteroid mining is to get raw materials that will be used at destinations that don't involve high delta-v.

    e.g. find a suitable asteroid, build a space station/colony near it. "On it" or attached to it works if the asteroid isn't big enough to generate too much gravity so that you can do your own fake gravity by spinning/swinging stuff without having lots of people getting. motion sickness.

    If you can manufacture very high value items in space ($$$$$$$/kg) and then send them down easily without countries thinking you're trying to attack them, then that makes sense.

    What space vehicle do we have that can bring a few tons of lower value stuff down intact at a low enough cost to be competitive?

    Sending thousands of tons of rock or barely refined raw materials down to Earth is stupid and can be a bit difficult to distinguish from an act of war/terrorism. Will "sorry a thruster failed" be accepted as an excuse if you accidentally hit a major city or a site of religious importance?

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday December 09 2019, @04:48AM (4 children)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday December 09 2019, @04:48AM (#929945) Journal

      Starship could return up to 50 tons for as low as $2 million ($40,000 per ton). That doesn't count prospecting, mining, and other costs, just moving loads from low-Earth orbit to the surface.

      Even if you assume a return cost of $1 million per ton, gold is around $47 million per ton. Mix gold, platinum, or other valuable minerals with some cheap iron, and it still might be worth it.

      Don't get me wrong, this is an unproven industry using a planned rocket, but the economics of returning material to Earth can make sense. Iron, water, and other cheaper stuff will be used in space instead of being brought to Earth.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 09 2019, @05:25AM (3 children)

        by c0lo (156) on Monday December 09 2019, @05:25AM (#929958) Journal

        Starship could return up to 50 tons for as low as $2 million ($40,000 per ton). That doesn't count prospecting, mining, and other costs, just moving loads from low-Earth orbit to the surface.

        Ah, the absolutely easiest problem is sorted then. I was afraid of it. (grin)

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 09 2019, @08:11AM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 09 2019, @08:11AM (#929982)

          Iron is only about USD90 per ton.

          Gold is about 60 million per ton but how much would it cost to extract gold from an asteroid and then transfer that all the way to Earth orbit (and then a Starship takes it down from there)?

          Wiki says:

          A small 10-meter S-type asteroid contains about 650,000 kg (1,433,000 lb) of metal with 50 kg (110 lb) in the form of rare metals like platinum and gold.

          So you'd have to go through about 20 small asteroids to get 1 ton of gold.

          It might make sense if other customers are paying to send other stuff up via Starship and then the Starship brings asteroid gold down, and the space colonies are taking the iron for materials and sending some of the gold etc to Earth (assuming they don't need that much gold).

          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 09 2019, @08:28AM

            by c0lo (156) on Monday December 09 2019, @08:28AM (#929984) Journal

            the space colonies are taking the iron for materials and sending some of the gold etc to Earth (assuming they don't need that much gold

            Iron is the most common metal in asteroids. What asteroid mining station will lack: air, food, possibly water and energy (in the asteroid belt, the solar energy is too weak for the amount needed by mining operation itself).

            --
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
          • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Monday December 09 2019, @05:10PM

            by Immerman (3985) on Monday December 09 2019, @05:10PM (#930116)

            Why would you assume we'd start mining with space debris? 10m isn't just small, it's *tiny* - there's hundreds of thousands of asteroids that are a small fraction of a mile across, tens of thousands that are a significant fraction of a mile across. thousands over 1 mile across, 100s that are over ten miles across, and several dozen that are a few hundred miles across.

            I suspect 16 Psyche, the largest M-type asteroid, will be a very early target as prospectors stake their claim on 1% of the entire mass of the asteroid belt in one place: 225km across. 2.4x10^19kg, 90% metal, for perhaps 1.6*10^12 metric tons of rare metals (about 8,500x the most optimistic estimates for the total amount of gold that has been mined on Earth). Plus it has 1.5% Earth surface gravity, which isn't enough to be much of an impediment, but really helps keep things from drifting away - with an escape velocity of 650kph launching is easy, but only on purpose.

            It remains to be seen how concentrated the rare metals are - if they're in concentrated deposits it could be very cost effective to dig them out. Even if they're diffused throughout the other metals isn't necessarily all that difficult - all you need is a big parabolic mylar umbrella and you can melt the metals right off the surface for processing. Control the heating carefully enough and you can even melt individual metals out of the lattice one at a time.

            And all that "waste" iron would be just begging to be put to use in more mining/refining equipment. Cast iron isn't the strongest material in the world, but it is incredibly easy to work with - and there's plenty of nickle to make steel as well. Or we can 3D print the stuff if we don't want to be bothered with making sand molds. (though 3D printing the molds would probably give you much stronger parts).

    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Monday December 09 2019, @05:38PM

      by Immerman (3985) on Monday December 09 2019, @05:38PM (#930132)

      >If you can manufacture very high value items in space ($$$$$$$/kg) and then send them down easily without countries thinking you're trying to attack them, then that makes sense.
      Early on it will likely be raw materials. 16 Psyche (The largest metallic asteroid at about 225km across) probably contains about 8,500x more rare metals than the total amount of gold mined throughout history. Along with about 12 billion times as much iron as is mined every year on Earth.

      >What space vehicle do we have that can bring a few tons of lower value stuff down intact at a low enough cost to be competitive?

      We don't need a vehicle to things down to Earth, at least not for sufficiently durable goods like metals. Just cast the metal into a good "reentry capsule" shape, coat it with some ablative heat shielding (even flour paste can be surprisingly effective), and maybe give it a parachute to provide some guidance and soften the final impact.

      If you're doing that really regularly, it *might* make sense to build "reentry sleds" that would give you better control, and then carry them back into orbit. Or perhaps a nice orbital "rail gun" capable of accelerating material in low orbit to a complete stop,so that it can fall the hundred or so miles to the surface with only a parachute.

    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday December 10 2019, @01:44AM

      by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday December 10 2019, @01:44AM (#930407)

      >Best use for asteroid mining is to get raw materials that will be used at destinations that don't involve high delta-v.

      As a space enthusiast I'm inclined to agree on principle. Well, except that delta-v isn't really that big a deal if you can avoid rocketry by using catapults, mass drivers, etc. Moving something between the asteroid belt and Earth's orbit only theoretically requires the energy equivalent of a couple gallons of gasoline per kg.

      In practice though - money makes the world go round, and space is likely to be a miserable place to live, especially at first. The only reason we're likely to go to space in a big way in the first place is if there's money to be made. We won't build a mine to get resources for a space colony - we'll build a space colony to provide support services to the mine. But that means we need to be mining something we can ship back to Earth at a profit, to pay for all the supplies and Earth-made equipment that will be needed.

      Fortunately, the two goals are fairly complementary - metallic asteroids are generally believed to hover around 80% iron, with enough rare metals mixed in to be well worth processing it all to extract the most valuable stuff - which is mostly useless in space anyway. And in the process you'll generate a huge amount of relatively pure iron "waste" with which to build a space colony.

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