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posted by martyb on Tuesday August 31, @03:51AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the last-of-the-big-spenders dept.

NASA just cut a 10-cent check to kick-start moon mining tech:

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson presented Justin Cyrus, CEO of Colorado-based space startup Lunar Outpost, with the first payment ever issued to a company as part of a space resource contract announced Aug. 23 here at the 36th annual Space Symposium. The check, which was just 10 cents, or 10 percent of Lunar Outpost's $1 bid, and will go towards the company's efforts to collect lunar dust, or regolith, for the agency.

"We had contractual terms with them when they produce their first element. We would give them 10% of their contract award. I am happy to present a check for 10% of their bid. Justin, here's a check for 10 cents," Nelson said.

[...] "This sets a legal and procedural framework that will be utilized for generations and decades to come for companies like ours and many others to go out and collect resources from the lunar surface from other planetary bodies and make them basically useful for humanity," Cyrus said.

[...] Now, as part of this contract, the company will "collect a small amount of moon dust, verify the collection and transfer the ownership of that lunar regolith," Nelson said.


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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, @05:26AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, @05:26AM (#1172690)

    and what billionare is funding this boondoggle?

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Tuesday August 31, @07:28AM (1 child)

      by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Tuesday August 31, @07:28AM (#1172726)

      Whichever billionaire it is, you can be sure one way or the other it's the taxpayer who foots the bill - mostly because billionaires don't pay their taxes.

      Mind you, I'd rather they funded space exploration with their ill-gotten money than yachts and supercars, given the choice.

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, @05:34AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, @05:34AM (#1172694)

    NASA is getting ripped off.

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Tuesday August 31, @07:11AM (2 children)

      by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Tuesday August 31, @07:11AM (#1172719)

      Not necessarily. At $4.3M per gram, Nasa just bought themselves 23 nanogram of lunar regolith. If the Lunar Outpost manages to do it cheaper, they'll deliver some more presumably.

      I don't see how NASA gets ripped off here. Ripped APART in favor of private concerns, yes. But not ripped off.

      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday August 31, @01:23PM (1 child)

        by Freeman (732) on Tuesday August 31, @01:23PM (#1172798) Journal

        Isn't NASA's goal to get ripped off? Please stuff this barrel more full of pork, then we can ship it, to space!

        --
        Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, @03:29PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, @03:29PM (#1172855)

          That's Congress' goal. NASA are just along for the ride.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, @05:45AM (14 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, @05:45AM (#1172697)

    The report explains that, combined with reusable upper stages and landers, a space-based supply of propellant has long been seen as the key that could enable cost-efficient access to much of the inner solar system. Moreover, the recent confirmation of lunar polar volatiles provides an access point to a supply line of in-space propellant. Refueling can "linearize" the rocket equation, the study suggests.

    The real goal isn't, and shouldn't be to bring stuff back to Earth. The goal should be to mine stuff to use Out There. It's a big universe; some of us would like to see it.

    • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Tuesday August 31, @07:21AM (12 children)

      by deimtee (3272) on Tuesday August 31, @07:21AM (#1172725) Journal

      While I don't disagree, space operations are going to be dependent on supplies from Earth for a long time. Even if it's just vitamin pills and high-tech chips they still need to be paid for.
      Really, the off-worlders just need to get profitable, the economy in space will take care of using as much local produce as possible. As it grows, more things will be economical to make/grow in space, making them more independent.

      --
      No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
      • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Tuesday August 31, @08:07AM (11 children)

        by mhajicek (51) on Tuesday August 31, @08:07AM (#1172740)

        Supply ships need to come back down to be reusable. May as well load them with a few tons of platinum or whatever.

        --
        The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
        • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Tuesday August 31, @08:13AM (5 children)

          by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Tuesday August 31, @08:13AM (#1172744) Homepage
          What were you using for that final delta-V?
          --
          I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
          • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Tuesday August 31, @08:46AM (4 children)

            by deimtee (3272) on Tuesday August 31, @08:46AM (#1172760) Journal

            If you are returning tonnes of platinum, you already have a pretty extensive mining and refining operation. Quite likely you are also making off-world rocket fuel.

            Personal opinion is that supply "ships" won't be either re-usable or ships. Something like starship (or its descendants) will be needed to get things into space and there are huge benefits to making those ships reusable. Moving around once you get to orbit can be done with a small cheap rocket and low thrust over a longer time. Supply packages will be just throwaway containers. (or re-fueled to take the platinum back.)

            Later on I would hope for solar-powered ion drive tugs to get things into low earth orbit - you don't really care how long that takes - and a small booster rocket to drop them the last bit into aerobraking at the right time to land where you want. The same tugs could pickup your supplies and boost them back to home on lagrange [youtube.com].

            --
            No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by FatPhil on Tuesday August 31, @10:42AM (3 children)

              by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Tuesday August 31, @10:42AM (#1172774) Homepage
              The answer "it'll be bootstrapped elsewhere" is beginning to get a bit repetitive.
              --
              I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, @10:01AM (2 children)

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, @10:01AM (#1173207)

                How about, "Because the economy is complicated" or "It steam engines when it's steam engine time"
                Right now we at James Watt pissing about and improving steam engines. Railroads develop where there are customers. Customers develop where ther are railways.
                The whole shebang develops together, asking for a specific 'product' that makes space development economical is juvenile.

                • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Thursday September 02, @07:09AM (1 child)

                  by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Thursday September 02, @07:09AM (#1173594) Homepage
                  Complete bollocks. Presently we're at about 10^-9 of the capabilities/capacities neccessary for the task claimed (possibly 10^-12, but what's a factor of a thousand beteen friends). Watt was at 10% of the capabilities/capacities we are now. There's simply no comparison between the small shuffle forward we've made in that field and the unimaginable leap necessary in the space transportation field.
                  --
                  I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 04, @11:44AM

                    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 04, @11:44AM (#1174429)

                    Interesting. It looks like there are about 50,000 locomotives worldwide. Ol' James must have had quite the train set to have 5000 all on his own.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, @06:25PM (4 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, @06:25PM (#1172909)

          I believe the only reason reusable supply ships is even possible is because they come back empty and need barely more then fumes left in the tank to safely slow down to a safe landing velocity. If it's filled with tons of "whatever" it'll also need tons of fuel to bring it down in one piece and the whole balancing act goes out the window.

          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mhajicek on Tuesday August 31, @07:57PM (3 children)

            by mhajicek (51) on Tuesday August 31, @07:57PM (#1172943)

            I've read that Starship has a payload return capacity of 50 tons.

            --
            The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Wednesday September 01, @03:03PM (2 children)

              by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday September 01, @03:03PM (#1173266) Journal

              I've read the same number.

              That's subject to change, just like the tons to LEO number (100, 150, more?). But it may be possible to send another Starship to refuel a heavy load in orbit just so it can be landed. The cost of that refuel being as low as $2 million.

              --
              [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 2, Informative) by khallow on Tuesday August 31, @02:23PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 31, @02:23PM (#1172834) Journal

      The real goal isn't, and shouldn't be to bring stuff back to Earth.

      True, but remember that they're looking for a means to return samples from the Moon to the highest concentration of researchers in the Solar System. Until you can move enough of that capability into space, Earth-side research is the only game in town.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, @08:44AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, @08:44AM (#1172759)

    Nothing but more government waste and frivolous pork spending!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, @02:29PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 31, @02:29PM (#1172836)

    He claims his $2 bid was based on different contract specifics. He's going to sue for $3.25 and hold up lunar mining in courts for another couple of years.

  • (Score: 2) by progo on Tuesday August 31, @07:17PM

    by progo (6356) on Tuesday August 31, @07:17PM (#1172925) Homepage

    They should have paid with a dime in a glass case.
    https://disney.fandom.com/wiki/Number_One_Dime [fandom.com]

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