Author Topic: A glimpse into the future of space mining  (Read 6649 times)

Offline DarkenedOne

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A glimpse into the future of space mining
« on: 09/28/2011 03:38 AM »
I was watching a brief news cast the other day talking about ultra deep sea oil drilling.  By ultra deep we are talking about wells going down as deep as 3700 meters.  The news caster made a comment that it was like drilling on Mars.  This comment got me thinking that maybe this is where it starts for space mining. 

The news caster probably recognized the uncanny resemblance to the way these companies operate on the sea floor to the way we currently operate on Mars. 

Both environments are technically accessible to humans, but in both situations using humans is difficult, expensive, and dangerous.  At least on Mars it is technically possible for a human to operate with a suit.  In the deep sea there is no suit that would stop the human body being crushed by the weight of the ocean.  Humans can only go that deep in subs and use robotic arms for manipulation.

Tele-operated robotics have been the preferred method.  They are the combination of the robotic body with the human mind with the strengths of both and the weaknesses of neither. 

While current space exploration is currently limited to small rovers working independently, the operations of the deep sea oil industry illustrate what the future will likely look like.  The deep sea industry currently uses a wide diversity of ROVs of all sizes some of which are specialized for certain tasks.  This small army of ROVs work together to build and maintain infrastructure underwater.  Pieces of infrastructure are brought by ship and lowered to the ocean floor where ROVs fit them, weld them, cut them, inspect them, and maintain them. 

As far as doing complex ROV operations in space the latency in the Earth moon system would be annoying, but acceptable, but as you go out further it starts to become a real pain.  In addition if you are going to send a bunch of robots to conduct an operation along with pieces for infrastructure it makes sense to take them all in one big shipment rather than with dozens of individual rockets.  These problems are solved in the deep sea industry with control ships that transport the robots around, control them, repair them, and send down parts for their operations.

The mining industry works on the lowest hanging fruit principle.  Sources requiring the least amount of technology and resources are extracted first, these sources are eventually depleted and the industry is forced to move to more difficult sources.  Our efforts to drill the ocean's bottoms is an indication of this phenomenon.  One day space will be seen as the next logical source of resources. 

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #1 on: 09/28/2011 03:18 PM »
Quote
The mining industry works on the lowest hanging fruit principle...

In this case, the lowest hanging fruit seems more to be the water ice at the lunar craters.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Warren Platts

Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #2 on: 09/28/2011 04:23 PM »
Quote
The mining industry works on the lowest hanging fruit principle...

In this case, the lowest hanging fruit seems more to be the water ice at the lunar craters.

Once you get there, operating on the Moon would be a lot easier than working on the bottom of the ocean IMO. The hard part is just getting there.
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline Epis

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #3 on: 09/28/2011 04:58 PM »
I think moon mining is first requirement for building large space ships, and all orbital infrastructure, because of low moon gravity , 0 atmosphere, and at the end building future interplanetary earth-mars, or artificial gravity LEO hotels, stations, asteroid mining equipment. Most of future heavy weight equipment and propellant will be much more economical to mine at moon and deliver to LEO than doing it on earth and firing at orbit. Moon is first target for industrial colonization.
 I envision at moon big underground shipyards to build something in size of tanker ships like 10000-100000 ton  space ships, that would be then launched possibly by maglev accelerator track, because lets be real that kind of magnitude constructions cant be built on earth and launched !!! one of obstacles is energy requirement for such giant structure orbital insertion, and assembling things in space from small peaces isn't an option.

First moon mining mission could be propellant mining station, that would mine water, and resources to build fuel tanks (engines, and other equipment will come from earth). so mining station will deliver first  really cheap propellant for LEO, to refill what ever craft that is out there, including mission to mars, and other destination tech.
at the end without moon industrialization there won't be any human space colonization possible.

Offline Hop_David

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #4 on: 09/28/2011 06:05 PM »
I was watching a brief news cast the other day talking about ultra deep sea oil drilling.  By ultra deep we are talking about wells going down as deep as 3700 meters.  The news caster made a comment that it was like drilling on Mars.  This comment got me thinking that maybe this is where it starts for space mining. 

The news caster probably recognized the uncanny resemblance to the way these companies operate on the sea floor to the way we currently operate on Mars. 

Both environments are technically accessible to humans, but in both situations using humans is difficult, expensive, and dangerous.  At least on Mars it is technically possible for a human to operate with a suit.  In the deep sea there is no suit that would stop the human body being crushed by the weight of the ocean.  Humans can only go that deep in subs and use robotic arms for manipulation.

Tele-operated robotics have been the preferred method.  They are the combination of the robotic body with the human mind with the strengths of both and the weaknesses of neither. 

While current space exploration is currently limited to small rovers working independently, the operations of the deep sea oil industry illustrate what the future will likely look like.  The deep sea industry currently uses a wide diversity of ROVs of all sizes some of which are specialized for certain tasks.  This small army of ROVs work together to build and maintain infrastructure underwater.  Pieces of infrastructure are brought by ship and lowered to the ocean floor where ROVs fit them, weld them, cut them, inspect them, and maintain them.

Deep sea resources aren't the only application driving improvements in telerobotics. Any dangerous and/or hard to reach workplace could use such devices. Besides British Petroleum, Rio Tinto is developing telerobots. Obviously there are military applications for good telerobots. Disarming bombs, for example.

I'm expecting state of art for motion capture to climb. It's already used by the movie industry. Mike Meyers using motion capture to operate the virtual puppet known as Shrek, for example. Motion capture is moving into video gaming: Wii and Kinect are early players. With a robust consumer market, this technology could improve dramatically while enjoying falling cost due to sale of many units amortizing development cost.

As far as doing complex ROV operations in space the latency in the Earth moon system would be annoying, but acceptable, but as you go out further it starts to become a real pain.

Indeed. There are technologies to mitigate slow reaction time. Big Dog displays balance and Google Cars display collision avoidance. But many routine tasks can require several consecutive actions. For example say a nut falls off a bolt, I turn and look side to side until the fallen nut catches my eye. I bend over. I pick up the nut. I put it back on the bolt. Doing something like this with a 3 second reaction time would probably take a minute. But with a ten to thirty minute reaction time? Could easily take a day.

In addition, moon offers better bandwidth. (Able telerobots need good bandwidth). Since signal strength falls with inverse square of distance, good bandwidth is easier for closer places. LRO achieved 100 Mbps.

Offline jee_c2

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #5 on: 09/28/2011 06:54 PM »
In addition, moon offers better bandwidth. (Able telerobots need good bandwidth). Since signal strength falls with inverse square of distance, good bandwidth is easier for closer places. LRO achieved 100 Mbps.
DIrected (paralell) radiation (like e.g. laser light) as transmitter media for the control and feedback, is not decreasing like that, but time delay (signal travels with c at fastest) is a more restricting condition for the distance.

Offline Moe Grills

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #6 on: 09/28/2011 07:20 PM »
Quote
The mining industry works on the lowest hanging fruit principle...

In this case, the lowest hanging fruit seems more to be the water ice at the lunar craters.

Once you get there, operating on the Moon would be a lot easier than working on the bottom of the ocean IMO. The hard part is just getting there.

Agreed!
But just for the sake of argument, let's say a SEA LAUNCH Zenit is used to send a 5 metric ton Lunar lander to the Moon.
  I calculate that roughly 55-60 percent of that lander would be hypergolic propellant needed to land softly on the moon.
 So that leaves about 2 metric tons of hardware sitting on the Moon,
of which (perhaps) one metric ton of that is Lunar mining machinery.
 
That one metric ton of Lunar mining machinery would have to be
a PROVERBIAL "Swiss Army Knife" of remotely-operated mobile machinery.
 
 It would have to serve in a variety of roles, including; a remotely-operated mini bulldozer, bobcat, front-end loader, backhoe, and have onboard equipment to process, refine & separate valuable material
on the Lunar surface.
  Could such a versatile but compact machine be designed and built? Hmmmmmm. ???

 Oh! And if a company wants to make money on the Lunar material
recovered, processed and refined, it has to do SOMETHING with that material.
No company likes to operate for too long swimming in red ink.
« Last Edit: 09/28/2011 07:21 PM by Moe Grills »

Offline DarkenedOne

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #7 on: 09/29/2011 12:59 AM »
Quote
The mining industry works on the lowest hanging fruit principle...

In this case, the lowest hanging fruit seems more to be the water ice at the lunar craters.

Once you get there, operating on the Moon would be a lot easier than working on the bottom of the ocean IMO. The hard part is just getting there.

I agree that as an environment the deep sea is probably harder to work in than on the moon or on Mars. 

The difficulty for the moon and Mars in the supply constraints.  It is rather cheap to send supplies and equipment into the deep sea.  It is not cheap to send supplies and equipment to the moon or Mars.

Offline DarkenedOne

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #8 on: 09/29/2011 01:04 AM »
Agreed!
But just for the sake of argument, let's say a SEA LAUNCH Zenit is used to send a 5 metric ton Lunar lander to the Moon.
  I calculate that roughly 55-60 percent of that lander would be hypergolic propellant needed to land softly on the moon.
 So that leaves about 2 metric tons of hardware sitting on the Moon,
of which (perhaps) one metric ton of that is Lunar mining machinery.
 
That one metric ton of Lunar mining machinery would have to be
a PROVERBIAL "Swiss Army Knife" of remotely-operated mobile machinery.
 
 It would have to serve in a variety of roles, including; a remotely-operated mini bulldozer, bobcat, front-end loader, backhoe, and have onboard equipment to process, refine & separate valuable material
on the Lunar surface.
  Could such a versatile but compact machine be designed and built? Hmmmmmm. ???

 Oh! And if a company wants to make money on the Lunar material
recovered, processed and refined, it has to do SOMETHING with that material.
No company likes to operate for too long swimming in red ink.


Well first of all one of the largest object to make it to the moon on an unmanned mission was the Luna 23, which was launched by the Proton rocket, and has a mass of 5600 kg sitting on the lunar surface.  Thus I would use 5600 kg as the baseline. 

Also I do not see why you would be limited to just one launch.  You could send many systems up in the same way.

Offline Tass

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #9 on: 09/29/2011 05:52 AM »
In addition, moon offers better bandwidth. (Able telerobots need good bandwidth). Since signal strength falls with inverse square of distance, good bandwidth is easier for closer places. LRO achieved 100 Mbps.
DIrected (paralell) radiation (like e.g. laser light) as transmitter media for the control and feedback, is not decreasing like that, but time delay (signal travels with c at fastest) is a more restricting condition for the distance.

In the far field it is, any laser spreads due to diffraction. Of course with a big enough laser far field may be interstellar distances.

Offline michaelwy

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #10 on: 09/29/2011 11:16 PM »
The way I see it, the thing that keeps us from exploring space or mining the moon and asteroids is the cost of launch from earth. It is so expensive to send anything anywhere that it just wouldn't pay to get raw materials from space. Perhaps if it was something that didn't exist on earth.

We need something like a space elevator, or some revolutionary propulsion system.  Then industry in space would really take off.
« Last Edit: 09/29/2011 11:18 PM by michaelwy »

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #11 on: 09/30/2011 02:02 PM »
Quote
We need something like a space elevator, or some revolutionary propulsion system.

All we have is chemical rocketry.  It's not too expensive to use.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Rhyshaelkan

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #12 on: 10/01/2011 01:45 AM »
It is so expensive to send anything anywhere that it just wouldn't pay to get raw materials from space. Perhaps if it was something that didn't exist on earth.

And the Earth does not need more raw resources. However we want things in space to duplicate human life in space. Instead of launching everything from Earth at great cost. Figure out what is necessary to start the gears of industry grinding, out there.

Fuel. It seems one of the most important and least troublesome steps to start the Gears grinding. While it takes great power and time to electrolyze water into hydrolox fuel. It will open up everything from LEO on outwards. Least troublesome, as the range of power it takes to extract water from regolith is quite less than to purify metals from regolith. Power for such would have to be imported. High quality/kg PVPs or solar/nuclear thermal stirling engines seem most appropriate.

Power. Gotta put the horse before the cart. We want to build more power equipment on the Moon. Pick your flavor, solar thermal stirling engines or crude PVPs(crude as we do not have the facilities or ingredients to make high quality ones). While uranium is available on the Moon for nuclear thermal, it will probably take much more effort to extract and refine than what is necessary for solar thermal. Power for the refining and manufacturing of more power production equipment will probably have to be imported as yet. Let alone the harvesting/beneficiation equipment. The furnaces for refining. The milling/forming equipment. Not to forget, assembly of said equipment.

Industry! We might already have our first milling/forming machines due to the necessity to produce power. Now we also use those machines to produce more machines. Using tools to refine our tools to make more items. True bootstrapping. Creating the resources web to produce manufactured goods.

Maintenance and humans. 'Bots can perform maintenance and 'bots can even perform maintenance on 'bots. As with Spudis and Lavoie's paper. I think it should be quite flexible when humans enter the picture. I do not think they are necessary in the first stages, however I think the whole point of space industry is to make mankind a true space fairing race. I also think humans much more adaptive for some assembly situations than any 'bot could ever be. I will stop rambling for now  :D
I am not a professional. Just a rational amateur dreaming of mankind exploiting the universe.

Offline DarkenedOne

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #13 on: 10/01/2011 01:39 PM »
Quote
We need something like a space elevator, or some revolutionary propulsion system.

All we have is chemical rocketry.  It's not too expensive to use.

You can go pretty much anywhere on the globe for a few thousand.  Right now the cheapest flight into LEO is around $50 million.  Seems chemical rocketry is expensive to me.

Offline DarkenedOne

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #14 on: 10/01/2011 01:44 PM »
The way I see it, the thing that keeps us from exploring space or mining the moon and asteroids is the cost of launch from earth. It is so expensive to send anything anywhere that it just wouldn't pay to get raw materials from space. Perhaps if it was something that didn't exist on earth.

We need something like a space elevator, or some revolutionary propulsion system.  Then industry in space would really take off.

Well not necessarily.  While lowering transport costs would definitely help, there is also a huge amount of potential in ISRU and robotics to reduce the amount of material needed to be transported.  Fuel especially takes a huge fraction of any space operation. 

Online aero

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #15 on: 10/01/2011 04:00 PM »
How much did the Appllo program cost and how much mass (moon rocks) did it return. That gives the high estimate of cost per oz. of lunar treasure. Surely we can do it for less $ now. Assuming that our desired material was already refined and laying on the surface of the moon in convenient 10 lb. bricks, what is the cost to get them back to Earth? And assuming that we knew where the raw material was located, what is the cost of setting up a robotic (is that cheaper than manned?) Miner-Refiner machine to make the 10 lb. bricks on the moon?

edit: After Googling, I get $8.3 M /oz for the Apollo moon rocks. ($100 billion (current dollars) for 841.6 lbs of rock) If we can reduce that by 4 orders of magnitude we are in the ballpark of competing with Earth based precious metals. The price point I get is roughly $10,000,000 for 1000 lbs. of refined precious metals.

Can we do four orders of magnitude better than Apollo if our mission is to return precious metals? I speculate that in order to attract investmetn, we need to target 5 orders of magnitude improvement over Apollo. That is, about $100/oz cost of the precious metals. Note that there is a large market in precious metals so this would not depress the market until such time as thousands of tons were being returned.
« Last Edit: 10/01/2011 04:48 PM by aero »
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Offline Epis

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #16 on: 10/02/2011 09:17 AM »
If spaceX will succeed with fully reusable Falcon9 rocket that could drop LEO cargo transport price down to <100-150$ kg then some first real moon exploration/mining permanent space base projects could begin. specially if after building reusable F9 they will make H9 heavy also reusable with >50 ton LEO payload some heavy mining machine equipment could then be transported to moon for first mining operations (that would be water that will be mined first, for life support and propellant then will fallow everything else for to build larger moon base infrastructure and also main market will be LEO space station building, which will be more cheap if built by moon mined metals, and supplied by moon propellant.
first step is of course need for cheap reusable heavy lift LEO transport >50 tons that could fly more than 1 time a weak.

basically if reusable falcon 9 will succeed it will fast takeover all non government rocket transport market. and with lowering transportation cost, lot of new private corporations space builders will emerge expanding space transportation market really fast, after 10 years demand will rise to such levels that there will be market for more high tech launch systems with larger infrastructure, like mountain slope reusable maglev electrical/chemical propulsion combos that could reduce energy consumption by 2/3 compared to F9 rocket so cost of Leo Kg will be 2x cheaper, because  now fuel cost will be significant part of transport cost, so most fuel efficient LEO transport will be the cheapest one. on the other side in LEO some orbital Skyhook could be also developed by the time to even further lower LEO transport cost.

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #17 on: 10/02/2011 02:06 PM »
With the above said, maybe it will be possible to get the Miner/refiner to the moon and to make the 10 lb. bricks of precious metals. Not a given but for this post assume it is so.

Then, what is the best way to bring the precious metal back to the market on Earth? We know from the Appolo 13 experience that high speed Earth atmospheric entry is possible. We also know that the precious metal will need to be guarded from "claim jumpers" every step of the way from space to the Earth based refinery that makes and takes the final product to the bullion market. FAA will rule out any randomness in drop times; that rules out any significant error in drop location.

How large a cargo will a single drop contain? Maybe one armored car's worth, maximum, so what is the cargo limit on an armored car? What is a minimum economically feasible payload mass? I know not!
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Offline Warren Platts

Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #18 on: 10/02/2011 04:08 PM »
With the above said, maybe it will be possible to get the Miner/refiner to the moon and to make the 10 lb. bricks of precious metals. Not a given but for this post assume it is so.

Then, what is the best way to bring the precious metal back to the market on Earth? We know from the Appolo 13 experience that high speed Earth atmospheric entry is possible. We also know that the precious metal will need to be guarded from "claim jumpers" every step of the way from space to the Earth based refinery that makes and takes the final product to the bullion market. FAA will rule out any randomness in drop times; that rules out any significant error in drop location.

How large a cargo will a single drop contain? Maybe one armored car's worth, maximum, so what is the cargo limit on an armored car? What is a minimum economically feasible payload mass? I know not!

The price of gold and platinum these days is about $60,000/kg, so that's $60M/mT. To make it worth it, you'd need a lot. World gold production is approximately 2000 mT/year; but since we're probably in the peak gold stage, the market could probably absorb about 200 mT/year without depressing prices too much. So you're looking at gross revenues of around $10B/year. Not bad, and possibly worth it, but not as much as you might think. I think Skylon would have a 10 or 15 mT downmass capability. Also, the standard bars these days are the so-called London Good Delivery bars: about 400 tr oz ea, 0.995 minimum purity. Might be hard to get it that pure on the Moon. (Possibly, you could convince people to buy them and then keep them stored on the Moon.)
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline Moe Grills

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #19 on: 10/02/2011 09:38 PM »
Agreed!
But just for the sake of argument, let's say a SEA LAUNCH Zenit is used to send a 5 metric ton Lunar lander to the Moon.
  I calculate that roughly 55-60 percent of that lander would be hypergolic propellant needed to land softly on the moon.
 So that leaves about 2 metric tons of hardware sitting on the Moon,
of which (perhaps) one metric ton of that is Lunar mining machinery.
 
That one metric ton of Lunar mining machinery would have to be
a PROVERBIAL "Swiss Army Knife" of remotely-operated mobile machinery.
 
 It would have to serve in a variety of roles, including; a remotely-operated mini bulldozer, bobcat, front-end loader, backhoe, and have onboard equipment to process, refine & separate valuable material
on the Lunar surface.
  Could such a versatile but compact machine be designed and built? Hmmmmmm. ???

 Oh! And if a company wants to make money on the Lunar material
recovered, processed and refined, it has to do SOMETHING with that material.
No company likes to operate for too long swimming in red ink.


Well first of all one of the largest object to make it to the moon on an unmanned mission was the Luna 23, which was launched by the Proton rocket, and has a mass of 5600 kg sitting on the lunar surface.  Thus I would use 5600 kg as the baseline. 

Also I do not see why you would be limited to just one launch.  You could send many systems up in the same way.


Many launches?
That's more money that has to be thrown in to the enterprise.

You have to start off SMALL with any business; especially involving some new big idea or plan.

I can show you HUNDREDS of websites (archived or not) where
big/ambitious/unproven enterprises bit the dust before any machine tool
or factory cut any metal for such dreams.
NOBODY would invest or lend money for such projects.

Thus I stand with my one launch prototype.
It's the prototype that would show whether the idea is sound in reality,
or simply looks good on paper.

Online aero

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #20 on: 10/02/2011 09:46 PM »
If $10B /yr. is really in the picture then someone (SpaceX) might want to look closely at the trade-offs. That is a huge amount of money compared to any single current space project, it even matchs the Apollo program.

Using the Skylon to de-orbit the payload solves a lot of problems. That leaves the problem of getting the payload from the moon to LEO. And the problem of Mining/refining the precious metal bricks in the first place. The  $10B /yr. (estimated) would go a long way toward solving those problems.

Regarding purity of the product, I speculate that lunar facilities would refine it to a cost/benefit level of purity and the product would be "polished" by an Earth based refinery. An Earth based refinery may not be needed but I speculate that it will: 1- to guarantee the purity and 2 - to introduce the product to the existing market.
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Offline beb

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #21 on: 10/02/2011 10:09 PM »
Lunar Mining is one thing but I wonder how one is possible mine an asteroid? Historically mining has involved breaking solid rock into loose pieces, picking up those loose pieces and putting them into a crusher to male smaller pieces but putting them into some kind of smelter/ extractor. Every step of the process relies on gravity. Either to hold the loose rubble in place, or to differentiate ore from slag. In orbit with no gravity to speak of I don't see how this can be managed.

And that's without considering the costs involved.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #22 on: 10/02/2011 10:44 PM »
Gold mining in space…? Can’t eat it, can’t drink it, can’t breathe it… So what good is it?

Robert
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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #23 on: 10/03/2011 01:02 AM »
Gold mining in space…? Can’t eat it, can’t drink it, can’t breathe it… So what good is it?

Robert

Gold has its uses but the main reason for mining it is for profit. As for my posts, the speculation is that maybe the profit would justify the expenses. That only works if we know a location where it is plentiful and can be extracted. Regarding the moon, do we have any idea where the lodes of precious metals are located or will we need an army of prospectors to find them? The only thing I know for sure is that the moon is virgin territory.
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #24 on: 10/03/2011 12:01 PM »
Gold mining in space…? Can’t eat it, can’t drink it, can’t breathe it… So what good is it?

Robert

Gold has its uses but the main reason for mining it is for profit. As for my posts, the speculation is that maybe the profit would justify the expenses. That only works if we know a location where it is plentiful and can be extracted. Regarding the moon, do we have any idea where the lodes of precious metals are located or will we need an army of prospectors to find them? The only thing I know for sure is that the moon is virgin territory.
Hey aero,
You might call it speculation, but it still falls under “science fiction”, since there is no infrastructure in place to find it, extract it or return it. There is no business model for it and no need for it on Earth. Currency left the gold standard decades ago and the only value is emotional. Bringing more of it only reduces its value. With famine here on Earth we still need the same resources you would need to live on the Moon. Challenges are still safe and plentiful food, clean drinking water and unpolluted air. We have enough greed and profiteers here on Wall Street who create nothing of “real value”.  Solve these problems and you will surely profit …“Can’t eat it, can’t drink it, can’t breathe it”…

Regards
Robert
http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm
« Last Edit: 10/03/2011 12:47 PM by Rocket Science »
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Offline Tass

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #25 on: 10/03/2011 01:52 PM »
If spaceX will succeed with fully reusable Falcon9 rocket that could drop LEO cargo transport price down to <100-150$ kg then some first real moon exploration/mining permanent space base projects could begin. specially if after building reusable F9 they will make H9 heavy also reusable with >50 ton LEO payload some heavy mining machine equipment could then be transported to moon for first mining operations (that would be water that will be mined first, for life support and propellant then will fallow everything else for to build larger moon base infrastructure and also main market will be LEO space station building, which will be more cheap if built by moon mined metals, and supplied by moon propellant.
first step is of course need for cheap reusable heavy lift LEO transport >50 tons that could fly more than 1 time a weak.

basically if reusable falcon 9 will succeed it will fast takeover all non government rocket transport market. and with lowering transportation cost, lot of new private corporations space builders will emerge expanding space transportation market really fast, after 10 years demand will rise to such levels that there will be market for more high tech launch systems with larger infrastructure, like mountain slope reusable maglev electrical/chemical propulsion combos that could reduce energy consumption by 2/3 compared to F9 rocket so cost of Leo Kg will be 2x cheaper, because  now fuel cost will be significant part of transport cost, so most fuel efficient LEO transport will be the cheapest one. on the other side in LEO some orbital Skyhook could be also developed by the time to even further lower LEO transport cost.


If prices get that low then it opens up the massive market of space based solar power. Global electricity market is much bigger than global precious metal market.

Offline Bill White

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #26 on: 10/03/2011 02:18 PM »
Closing a business case using current commodity prices for rare metals will be very difficult (or perhaps impossible). Also remember that bringing more supply online will lower commodity prices, making it even more difficult to close that business case.

Ain't no such thing as a trillion dollar platinum asteroid. If someone were to aerobrake a trillion dollars worth of PGM into Earth orbit, and commence mining, the price of PGM would plummet and that asteroid wouldn't be worth a trillion dollars anymore.

Anyway, schemes to artificially inflate the price of extra-terrestrial metals could be one route to jump start space mining. I tout the idea of minting coins from space mined metals and selling that metal at 10x or 100x the commodity price per ounce.

Also, there is a potential macro-economic effect. If a "trillion dollars worth of PGM" flooded the market, prices per ounce would plummet however the overall economy would receive a massive stimulus. Cheap catalytic metals would enhance everyone's standard of living.

How might a space program monetize that society wide macroscopic benefit in order to buy rockets and spacesuits and mining equipment?

The solution I tout is to use brand value. Explain to the public the macroscopic economic benefits from space mining (and the aspirational objective of becoming a space faring species) and ask the public to support those consumer brands that in turn support space exploration.

Or, we can ask the US Congress to pay for it.

« Last Edit: 10/03/2011 02:19 PM by Bill White »
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Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #27 on: 10/03/2011 02:53 PM »
All we have is chemical rocketry.  It's not too expensive to use.

You can go pretty much anywhere on the globe for a few thousand.  Right now the cheapest flight into LEO is around $50 million.  Seems chemical rocketry is expensive to me.

Yep.  It is expensive.  But it's not too expensive to use, as is being demonstrated already by those with the money for the ticket.  My advice?  Work harder, not smarter.

How large a cargo will a single drop contain? Maybe one armored car's worth, maximum, so what is the cargo limit on an armored car? What is a minimum economically feasible payload mass? I know not!

According to this crumpled envelope, which I like to drag out every so often, the shuttle could have returned a nice 20 ton package of gold to Earth from LEO and that at a decent profit with today's prices.  Which of course doesn't get into how that there package arrived in LEO.  Other than initial speculation after the first trip, the amount of gold wouldn't really affect global quantities all that much.

Historically mining has involved breaking solid rock into loose pieces, picking up those loose pieces and putting them into a crusher to male smaller pieces but putting them into some kind of smelter/ extractor. Every step of the process relies on gravity.

This is the part of reality that the NEO-logists would rather you not ask about.  The trail of particles would be interesting.

I had an interesting image of the asteroid belt being turned into a dust belt of small ground up particles.  Probably turn into a ring around the Sun.  If JWST could find such a dust belt surrounding a distant star, it could suggest an intelligent life form has mined their asteroid belt.  I don't know how common asteroid belts are, however.

Quote
If prices get that low then it opens up the massive market of space based solar power unicorns.

Fixed that.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Online aero

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #28 on: 10/03/2011 04:05 PM »
I'm not speculating about "Why do it?" beyond the profit motive, rather I'm asking, "Can it be done and if so, how?" The central issue then is, do any extractable precious metals exist on the moon? I don't know but I did find this article suggesting that their might be.

http://www.space.com/10458-ancient-crashes-blasted-precious-metals-earth-moon-mars.html

Perhaps we'll get another clue from the GRAIL spacecrafts sometime next year.
« Last Edit: 10/03/2011 04:06 PM by aero »
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Offline DarkenedOne

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #29 on: 10/03/2011 04:12 PM »
Hey aero,
You might call it speculation, but it still falls under “science fiction”, since there is no infrastructure in place to find it, extract it or return it. There is no business model for it and no need for it on Earth. Currency left the gold standard decades ago and the only value is emotional. Bringing more of it only reduces its value. With famine here on Earth we still need the same resources you would need to live on the Moon. Challenges are still safe and plentiful food, clean drinking water and unpolluted air. We have enough greed and profiteers here on Wall Street who create nothing of “real value”.  Solve these problems and you will surely profit …“Can’t eat it, can’t drink it, can’t breathe it”…

Regards
Robert
http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm

First of all, many of that you speak of are political and economic, not technical. 


Secondly, the greater abundance of resources that can be made available by space travel can go along way to improving conditions here.   

Think about it.  Think of all the problems created by mining and extracting resources.  Practically all the ones related to pollution can be eliminated if mining is done on another planet.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #30 on: 10/03/2011 04:36 PM »
Hey aero,
You might call it speculation, but it still falls under “science fiction”, since there is no infrastructure in place to find it, extract it or return it. There is no business model for it and no need for it on Earth. Currency left the gold standard decades ago and the only value is emotional. Bringing more of it only reduces its value. With famine here on Earth we still need the same resources you would need to live on the Moon. Challenges are still safe and plentiful food, clean drinking water and unpolluted air. We have enough greed and profiteers here on Wall Street who create nothing of “real value”.  Solve these problems and you will surely profit …“Can’t eat it, can’t drink it, can’t breathe it”…

Regards
Robert
http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm

First of all, many of that you speak of are political and economic, not technical. 


Secondly, the greater abundance of resources that can be made available by space travel can go along way to improving conditions here.   

Think about it.  Think of all the problems created by mining and extracting resources.  Practically all the ones related to pollution can be eliminated if mining is done on another planet.
1) Where is this infrastructure (technology)?
2) How? Please explain…
3) So its ok to destroy a “pristine” celestial body, have we not done enough damage here?
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

Offline DarkenedOne

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #31 on: 10/03/2011 06:03 PM »
Hey aero,
You might call it speculation, but it still falls under “science fiction”, since there is no infrastructure in place to find it, extract it or return it. There is no business model for it and no need for it on Earth. Currency left the gold standard decades ago and the only value is emotional. Bringing more of it only reduces its value. With famine here on Earth we still need the same resources you would need to live on the Moon. Challenges are still safe and plentiful food, clean drinking water and unpolluted air. We have enough greed and profiteers here on Wall Street who create nothing of “real value”.  Solve these problems and you will surely profit …“Can’t eat it, can’t drink it, can’t breathe it”…

Regards
Robert
http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm

First of all, many of that you speak of are political and economic, not technical. 


Secondly, the greater abundance of resources that can be made available by space travel can go along way to improving conditions here.   

Think about it.  Think of all the problems created by mining and extracting resources.  Practically all the ones related to pollution can be eliminated if mining is done on another planet.
1) Where is this infrastructure (technology)?
2) How? Please explain…
3) So its ok to destroy a “pristine” celestial body, have we not done enough damage here?


1.  We will develop it as we have with all infrastructure and technology that exists today.

2.  Control over resources has always been one of if not the greatest driver for warfare. 

3.  Rocket Science I care about preserving and protecting lifeforms.  I do not care about protecting rock.  If mining operations could be conducted in a place where it cannot negatively affect life then that is best.

Your objections sound terribly misanthropic.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #32 on: 10/04/2011 01:25 AM »
The other thing about the gold standard is that in some ways you don't need it.  Let's say NASA could pull an Alaska:  Everybody in the country gets ten one ounce gold coins at the end of the year.  Shuttle brings 'em down in 20 ton chunks.  Children's share goes to the parents or guardians.  The way income is distributed these days, it would make a lotta people happy with that administration.  Realizing of course, that you don't need a gold standard to this; you sell gold like any other commodity on an open market.

As to the idea of a "pristine" celestial body.  To me a perchlorate ecosystem on Mars is a more "pristine" kind of thing than the Moon.  The Moon ends up being an industrial based economy based on mining.  If nuclear energy, or a continuous equatorial PV array is available, perhaps rocket manufacture.  Otherwise, if it is thought that the Moon is disfigured enough with the artifacts now on it, then staying on planet will be more a condemnation than a choice.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Robert Thompson

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #33 on: 10/05/2011 09:44 PM »
Bill White, I sent you a PM.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #34 on: 10/05/2011 09:52 PM »
Hey aero,
You might call it speculation, but it still falls under “science fiction”, since there is no infrastructure in place to find it, extract it or return it. There is no business model for it and no need for it on Earth. Currency left the gold standard decades ago and the only value is emotional. Bringing more of it only reduces its value. With famine here on Earth we still need the same resources you would need to live on the Moon. Challenges are still safe and plentiful food, clean drinking water and unpolluted air. We have enough greed and profiteers here on Wall Street who create nothing of “real value”.  Solve these problems and you will surely profit …“Can’t eat it, can’t drink it, can’t breathe it”…

Regards
Robert
http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm

First of all, many of that you speak of are political and economic, not technical. 


Secondly, the greater abundance of resources that can be made available by space travel can go along way to improving conditions here.   

Think about it.  Think of all the problems created by mining and extracting resources.  Practically all the ones related to pollution can be eliminated if mining is done on another planet.
1) Where is this infrastructure (technology)?
2) How? Please explain…
3) So its ok to destroy a “pristine” celestial body, have we not done enough damage here?


1.  We will develop it as we have with all infrastructure and technology that exists today.

2.  Control over resources has always been one of if not the greatest driver for warfare. 

3.  Rocket Science I care about preserving and protecting lifeforms.  I do not care about protecting rock.  If mining operations could be conducted in a place where it cannot negatively affect life then that is best.

Your objections sound terribly misanthropic.

Fancy word for realistic...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

Offline Patchouli

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Re: A glimpse into the future of space mining
« Reply #35 on: 10/05/2011 10:18 PM »
The other thing about the gold standard is that in some ways you don't need it.  Let's say NASA could pull an Alaska:  Everybody in the country gets ten one ounce gold coins at the end of the year.  Shuttle brings 'em down in 20 ton chunks.  Children's share goes to the parents or guardians.  The way income is distributed these days, it would make a lotta people happy with that administration.  Realizing of course, that you don't need a gold standard to this; you sell gold like any other commodity on an open market.

As to the idea of a "pristine" celestial body.  To me a perchlorate ecosystem on Mars is a more "pristine" kind of thing than the Moon.  The Moon ends up being an industrial based economy based on mining.  If nuclear energy, or a continuous equatorial PV array is available, perhaps rocket manufacture.  Otherwise, if it is thought that the Moon is disfigured enough with the artifacts now on it, then staying on planet will be more a condemnation than a choice.

I agree I can care less about the concept of a pristine celestial body esp with things as common as asteroids.
Really if one cares about the Earth then space mining should be very important to you.

Personally I'd rather see a lifeless rock get strip mined for the PGMs modern civilization requires then see all the tropical rain forests on Earth get ripped up in such mining operations.
« Last Edit: 10/05/2011 10:21 PM by Patchouli »

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