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Fingers Crossed - this would be So Cool...

From Bad Astronomy (Phil Plait's generally good blog)

Breaking: Private company does indeed plan to mine asteroids… and I think they can do it

Planetary Resources, Inc. is not your average startup: its mission is to investigate and eventually mine asteroids in space!

Last week, the company issued a somewhat cryptic announcement saying they “will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP”. I predicted this meant they wanted to mine asteroids, and yes, I will toot my own horn: I was right. They’re holding a press conference Tuesday morning to officially announce they’re going asteroid hunting.

The company had a pretty fierce amount of credibility right off the bat, with several ex-NASA engineers, an astronaut, and planetary scientists involved, as well as the backing of not one but several billionaires, including a few from Google… not to mention James Cameron. The co-founders of Planetary Resources are Peter Diamandis — he created the highly-successful X-Prize Foundation, to give cash awards to incremental accomplishments that will help achieve technological breakthroughs, including those for space travel — and Eric Anderson, X-Prize board member and Chairman of the Board of the Space Spaceflight Federation.

These are very, very heavy hitters. Clearly, they’re not screwing around.

So what’s the deal?


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 25th, 2012 02:04 am (UTC)
I actually like their chances. What they say makes sense to this Navy Engineer-type.

And those nay-sayers. Honestly. To paraphrase Heinlein, "People like that would have told Columbus to stay at home."

I look forward to the day we can leave those groundhogs behind, if we live that long.
Apr. 25th, 2012 05:37 pm (UTC)
Nooo, not at all. But we do point out that not only is the moon closer, but you have gravity available for separation furnaces. No need to burn fuel returning all the worthless silicates as well as the precious metals.
Apr. 25th, 2012 10:15 pm (UTC)
And you can do both after all - bring the rock to Luna, do your smelting etc there, and then ship some down to Earth and use the rest to build more factory, living space etc. Why waste energy bringing metal up from Earth that you don't have to?

Also I can see people getting a tad Nervous about multiple large chunks of rock in near Earth orbit, while there's a lot more room for error if you want to drop it on the moon for disassembly. Nobody's repealed Murphy's Law last I heard.

Edited at 2012-04-25 10:15 pm (UTC)
Apr. 26th, 2012 01:21 am (UTC)
"Worthless" silicates?

Hmm, so our electronics, chemical, optical and infrastructure industries can languish and decay while the precious metals "industry" goes on?

You, sir, have a one-track mind that's a complete one-eighty from the people trying to do this - all you can see is the early profit, apparently.

Harriman Disapproves.
Apr. 26th, 2012 02:13 am (UTC)
*rolls eyes*

Silicates worthless as in they are so commonplace and readily available in Terra Firma that dragging them from space would be pointless -- the supply is no way even remotely limited down here. Whereas titanium is far rarer, and nickel is becoming scarce as we find no new veins of the material. When the nickel runs out, you'll be able to go to space and drag nickel iron asteroids back and charge whatever you want for them.

Bringing back ordinary rock, however, when the Earth is covered in rock, won't find you any buyers for said rock. And into the bankruptcy court you and your rockets go. And all the OTHER neat stuff that follows the gold rush -- routine transport and space colonies and better lift tech -- die in their cribs because the first company didn't strike the gold.

Until someone screams there's gold in them there hills, people don't give an Alf fart about the hills. Or those of us who build the vehicles that go into the hills. (You really should examine people's profiles before you make snap judgements about them.)
Apr. 26th, 2012 03:16 am (UTC)
Let me guess, that last sentence means you're shockwave77598, forgot to log in, and thus posted anonymously? :)

For the record, I've got this site set up to pass anonymous posts by me first for all the obvious reasons, so it's faster if you use your own account when you have one. Or, for that matter, when you identify yourself in the post whether you have one or not.

Edited at 2012-04-26 03:17 am (UTC)
Apr. 25th, 2012 05:36 pm (UTC)
I think that mining the moon is far simpler, cheaper, and will give better results. It's closer, so you use less fuel there and back. You also don't tie up a tug for as long; time is money when the vehicles cost a billion or so.
Apr. 25th, 2012 06:39 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't tie up a tug. It's just a rock. Nudge it into the right orbit, let it go and go off after the next rock. Orbital mechanics will land the rock where you want it, someone snags it on the other end and nudges it into a parking orbit for processing. There's a fairly long delay while the pipeline gets primed, but once the first rock arrives they'll keep arriving as long as the tug's out there snagging more.
Apr. 25th, 2012 10:20 pm (UTC)
And do it around Luna, not Earth if you can. Falling Down on New Jersey is very funny as a filk, not so much in real life...
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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