Author Topic: A glimpse into the future of space mining  (Read 8050 times)

Offline 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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~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline aero

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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.

Offline 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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