Author Topic: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining  (Read 21938 times)

Offline Warren Platts

Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« on: 04/06/2017 02:28 PM »
This story is all over the news this morning: apparently a 98 page report written by Noah Poponak, an aerospace and materials analyst at Goldman, that has a favorable take on the prospects of asteroid mining:

Quote
“While the psychological barrier to mining asteroids is high, the actual financial and technological barriers are far lower. Prospecting probes can likely be built for tens of millions of dollars each and Caltech has suggested an asteroid-grabbing spacecraft could cost $2.6bn,” the report says.

$2.6 billion (£2 billion) sounds like a lot, but it is only about one-third the amount that has been invested in Uber, putting the price well within reach of today’s VC funds. It is also a comparable to the setup cost for a regular earthbound mine. (This MIT paper estimates a new rare earth metal mine can cost up to $1 billion, from scratch.)

There is just one problem: That same asteroid would instantly tank the entire platinum market: “Successful asteroid mining would likely crater the global price of platinum, with a single 500-meter-wide asteroid containing nearly 175X the global output, according to MIT’s Mission 2016.”

Nonetheless, Goldman is bullish. “We expect that systems could be built for less than that given trends in the cost of manufacturing spacecraft and improvements in technology. Given the capex of mining operations on Earth, we think that financing a space mission is not outside the realm of possibility.”

https://business-insider-uk-yahoopartner.tumblr.com/post/159260933765/goldman-sachs-space-mining-for-platinum-is-more

No mention of lunar mining. I would be VERY interested in reading the original 98 page report, if anyone can find it.

Here is a year old video produced by Mr. Popanak:




« Last Edit: 04/06/2017 02:30 PM by Warren Platts »
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Offline clongton

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #1 on: 04/06/2017 02:37 PM »
There is just one problem: That same asteroid would instantly tank the entire platinum market: “Successful asteroid mining would likely crater the global price of platinum, with a single 500-meter-wide asteroid containing nearly 175X the global output, according to MIT’s Mission 2016.”

Assuming they found a 500 meter-wide asteroid composed almost entirely of platinum. The odds of that are really slim at best.
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Offline Warren Platts

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #2 on: 04/06/2017 03:03 PM »
There is just one problem: That same asteroid would instantly tank the entire platinum market: “Successful asteroid mining would likely crater the global price of platinum, with a single 500-meter-wide asteroid containing nearly 175X the global output, according to MIT’s Mission 2016.”

Assuming they found a 500 meter-wide asteroid composed almost entirely of platinum. The odds of that are really slim at best.

A 500 meter sphere of platinum would mass 1.4 billion tonnes. Since global production of Pt is about 130 mT, that's 10,000,000X the global output.

175 X 130 =  22,750 mT of Pt. Assuming a density of 8,000 kg/m^3 then that implies a Pt concentration of about 43 ppm, which is definitely on the high side (normal concentrations are on the order of a ppm), but not out of the realm of possibility perhaps.

But even so, such an asteroid would crash the market. 130 tonnes of Pt is about 6% of the total global production of gold. Thus, if you wanted to make a killing in space mining, gold would be the target IMHO. YMMV.
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Offline Tuts36

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #3 on: 04/06/2017 03:17 PM »
Quote
But even so, such an asteroid would crash the market. 130 tonnes of Pt is about 6% of the total global production of gold. Thus, if you wanted to make a killing in space mining, gold would be the target IMHO. YMMV.

Depends.  The current players in platinum production would definitely not want to crash the market.  I wouldn't hold my breath looking for them to branch into asteroid mining unless they are forced into it to stay relevant.

However, a non-mining corporation that would benefit from large quantities of bargain-basement platinum might be willing to invest in this, if new space manages to lower launch costs far enough to make the gamble enticing.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #4 on: 04/06/2017 03:33 PM »
Tomorrow's announcement, Discovery Channel's new reality TV show, "Gold Rush - Space".

Offline Tuts36

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #5 on: 04/06/2017 03:42 PM »
Tomorrow's announcement, Discovery Channel's new reality TV show, "Gold Rush - Space".

I would watch that!

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #6 on: 04/06/2017 03:48 PM »
Quote
But even so, such an asteroid would crash the market. 130 tonnes of Pt is about 6% of the total global production of gold. Thus, if you wanted to make a killing in space mining, gold would be the target IMHO. YMMV.

Depends.  The current players in platinum production would definitely not want to crash the market.  I wouldn't hold my breath looking for them to branch into asteroid mining unless they are forced into it to stay relevant.

However, a non-mining corporation that would benefit from large quantities of bargain-basement platinum might be willing to invest in this, if new space manages to lower launch costs far enough to make the gamble enticing.

What they could do is use predatory pricing to crash the price of Pt on Earth, and put all producers completely out of business. Once that was done, they would have monopoly pricing power, and could then set the price forever at just below the marginal cost of the most productive platinum mine on Earth.

I've been trying to get a quantitative handle on the Pt demand curve. In 2014 there was a big strike that took about 20% of the 6 mo. supply out of the market, and there was a correlated price rise of about 10%. So if they wanted to crash the price by half, they'd have to quadruple the world's supply. Assuming they could capture the entire market at this point, it would be worth $15K/kg x 4 x 130,000 kg = $7.8B/year. Is that enough to run a major space program? Maybe. But it's hard to see how you're going to generate the world's first trillionaire with that revenue level. For comparison Exxon pulls in about $200B/year (down by half from a few years ago).
« Last Edit: 04/06/2017 03:49 PM by Warren Platts »
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Offline RonM

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #7 on: 04/06/2017 03:55 PM »
Once the asteroid is in orbit, the platinum still needs to be extracted. That's not going to be an easy task and would be expensive. Impact on the market should be the same as discovering a new mine. Once production ramps up the commodity price could go down. Whoever is doing the asteroid processing can limit production to prevent a market crash.

Offline Tuts36

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #8 on: 04/06/2017 03:56 PM »
Quote
But even so, such an asteroid would crash the market. 130 tonnes of Pt is about 6% of the total global production of gold. Thus, if you wanted to make a killing in space mining, gold would be the target IMHO. YMMV.

Depends.  The current players in platinum production would definitely not want to crash the market.  I wouldn't hold my breath looking for them to branch into asteroid mining unless they are forced into it to stay relevant.

However, a non-mining corporation that would benefit from large quantities of bargain-basement platinum might be willing to invest in this, if new space manages to lower launch costs far enough to make the gamble enticing.

What they could do is use predatory pricing to crash the price of Pt on Earth, and put all producers completely out of business. Once that was done, they would have monopoly pricing power, and could then set the price forever at just below the marginal cost of the most productive platinum mine on Earth.

I've been trying to get a quantitative handle on the Pt demand curve. In 2014 there was a big strike that took about 20% of the 6 mo. supply out of the market, and there was a correlated price rise of about 10%. So if they wanted to crash the price by half, they'd have to quadruple the world's supply. Assuming they could capture the entire market at this point, it would be worth $15K/kg x 4 x 130,000 kg = $7.8B/year. Is that enough to run a major space program? Maybe. But it's hard to see how you're going to generate the world's first trillionaire with that revenue level. For comparison Exxon pulls in about $200B/year (down by half from a few years ago).

The first effort to capture a Pt heavy asteroid for mining purposes would get heavy press coverage, and it would all happen in slow motion.  That's the point where everyone else would scramble to do the same before your monopoly scenario could play out.  Would they be able to move quickly enough?  I don't know, but it'd be entertaining to find out  ::)

Offline MikeAtkinson

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #9 on: 04/06/2017 03:59 PM »
The trick will be to turn greater platinum production into a better product (worth 10x as much) and then leverage that better product in a service (worth 100x as much).

This is what SpaceX are trying to do with their LEO and vLEO constellations, start with a relatively small advantage in launch, use that to enable better/cheaper LEO satellites, then use those to provide communications services worth much, much more. [would not be surprise if SpaceX offered end user services as well bringing in even more revenue).

Given how useful the platinum group metals are, there are numerous potential avenues to exploit in this way.

What they could do is use predatory pricing to crash the price of Pt on Earth, and put all producers completely out of business. Once that was done, they would have monopoly pricing power, and could then set the price forever at just below the marginal cost of the most productive platinum mine on Earth.

If they did this, then they may be able to leverage their monopoly in platinum into becoming a major chemical manufacturer, which might then be leveraged into finished products using those chemicals. [as just one example]

Offline Archibald

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #10 on: 04/06/2017 04:32 PM »
If goldman Sachs show interest in asteroid mining, then it might be a sign the market is ready to provide a crapload of benefits (to their pocket)

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-american-bubble-machine-20100405

Offline Lar

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #11 on: 04/06/2017 04:45 PM »
Unless you have space fighters to shoot down rival asteroid miners... (let's not go there)  you can't get monopoly pricing for long. I can see a space based mining cartel forming ala OPEC (MAYBE, but I doubt it) but not a single producer holding pricing power.

I just like that people are starting to think through "what if launch prices DID come down, what if Jeff and Elon aren't just crazy billionaires ranting.... but crazy billionaires that are going to make prices come down... what then? How can we benefit?"
« Last Edit: 04/06/2017 04:45 PM by Lar »
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #12 on: 04/06/2017 05:26 PM »
Goldman Sachs, my favorite people... :-X
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #13 on: 04/06/2017 05:41 PM »
but crazy billionaires that are going to make prices come down... what then? How can we benefit?"
And by "we" understand that's Goldman Sachs.

Not necessarily their customers.  :(
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Offline Lar

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #14 on: 04/06/2017 05:42 PM »
OK that's two posts in a row hating on GS. Point taken I think?

How many other mainstream outfits would need to say similar things before conventional wisdom shifts?
« Last Edit: 04/06/2017 05:43 PM by Lar »
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Offline incoming

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #15 on: 04/06/2017 05:48 PM »

What they could do is use predatory pricing to crash the price of Pt on Earth, and put all producers completely out of business. Once that was done, they would have monopoly pricing power, and could then set the price forever at just below the marginal cost of the most productive platinum mine on Earth.


A quick internet search puts the average cost of platinum production on the order of $1200-1600/oz.  Ultimately, that's the number to beat for space-based platinum mining, assuming the point is to bring it back to Earth (hopefully one day we'll need a constant supply of platinum in space along with other raw materials). So the real question is, can a company profitably return platinum to Earth at a rate low enough to keep from crashing the market but high enough to have sufficient economies of scale to beat the terrestrial production cost.

That raises an interesting thought on the demand side of the equation.  Platinum and Gold exist in similar quantities and concentrations terrestrially, and platinum is about 20% more expensive to produce than gold.  Yet over 10 times as much gold is produced annually than platinum. (One might speculate that the cost of platinum production might even come down to match gold if the production rate was higher.) 

Looking to future demand, one of the largest consumers of platinum is the auto industry for cat beds, how likely is a shift in the coming decades away from internal combustion powered autos, vs. growing demand in the developing world for internal combustion powered autos? 

Understanding the demand side of the equation could go a long way to determining the threshold amount for "crashing" the market.     

Online TrevorMonty

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #16 on: 04/06/2017 05:58 PM »
If Warren theory about gold deposits in polar craters is correct, it could be viable along with propellant production from lunar ice. At $40m ton it could be worth while especially as water for fuel to transport gold to LEO would as be extracted at same time.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #17 on: 04/06/2017 06:39 PM »

A quick internet search puts the average cost of platinum production on the order of $1200-1600/oz.  Ultimately, that's the number to beat for space-based platinum mining, assuming the point is to bring it back to Earth
So that's a minimum of $19200/ lb. Well lowering the launch costs below that should definitely be possible.
Building a mining and return system (especially one that does not literally burn up every time) is more difficult.
Quote from: incoming
Looking to future demand, one of the largest consumers of platinum is the auto industry for cat beds, how likely is a shift in the coming decades away from internal combustion powered autos, vs. growing demand in the developing world for internal combustion powered autos? 

Understanding the demand side of the equation could go a long way to determining the threshold amount for "crashing" the market.   
Indeed.

Just a wild notion but in the long run maybe a large Lithium deposit will prove more profitable?
There's also the ability to harvest sunlight relatively easily for on orbit smelting and concentration.
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Offline floss

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #18 on: 04/06/2017 08:03 PM »
Platinium is far from the most valuable material that can be mined in space Iridium is worth far more to terrestrial civilisation because you can use iridium to create artificial photosynthesis and remove atmospheric  CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into fuel .

How would anyone like a panel on their roof that makes fuel that they can put in their car or heat their house for free ?

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #19 on: 04/06/2017 08:13 PM »
Understanding the demand side of the equation could go a long way to determining the threshold amount for "crashing" the market.

Yes, the demand curve will be key. I did some fooling around with the (linear) demand curve seemingly implied by the 2014 Pt strike (where a 20% reduction in supply caused an apparent 10% spike in prices), and I get a formula of:

P = -0.115384615 * Q + 45,000

where P is the price in $/kg, and Q is total annual production in kilograms per year. (For present prices I'm assuming $30K/kg and 130,000 kg of produced Pt.)

I got some interesting results: once production causes the price to decline below $22.5K/kg (25% less than current prices), total revenue starts going down. So the optimal price point is $22.5K/kg, with a total production of 195 mT, and total revenue of $4.4B, compared to total revenues today of approximately $3.9B.

Thus, to do the predatory pricing strategy, assuming a 50% price reduction would do the trick, they would have to double the total production, and their revenues at that point would still be $3.9B.

As for the benefit to society, at the optimal point, the consumer surplus per year would be about $1.2B (that is, money freed up that can be spent on other things). If they kept the price at $15K/kg (50% of today's price), then the consumer surplus would be nearly $3B/year.



"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 Warren Platts

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #20 on: 04/06/2017 08:21 PM »
Platinium is far from the most valuable material that can be mined in space Iridium is worth far more to terrestrial civilisation because you can use iridium to create artificial photosynthesis and remove atmospheric  CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into fuel .

How would anyone like a panel on their roof that makes fuel that they can put in their car or heat their house for free ?

{citation needed}
"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 RotoSequence

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #21 on: 04/06/2017 08:39 PM »
Well, if this chart is accurate, there's plenty of other resource opportunities in space mining. The distribution of elements in the universe is full of surprises.

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #22 on: 04/06/2017 09:12 PM »
Actually, there is reason to believe the costs of production could be radically lower. The cost of "mining" the asteroid is really mainly the cost of moving the object to Earth orbit. Once there, since it's mostly metal, slabs of the asteroid could be fed directly into an electric arc blast furnace. This is A LOT easier than trying to beneficiate ore.

The thing is, the "slag" that would result is basically nature's own Inconel steel, which is the best steel known to mankind. You could then use this to manufacture satellites and other structures for use in space. The deadweight value of these items would be equal to the cost it would take to launch the same mass from Earth's surface. Basically, the value of the steel would be the per kg launch costs.

Thus enough steel to build a structure with twice the mass of the ISS (~500 mT), and if launch costs are $10K/kg, then the value added would be worth ~$10B right there. If Pt is at 100 ppm concentration (which is extremely high), after producing 1,000 tonnes of steel, you'd have a paltry 0.1 tonnes of Pt.

Flipping that around, if you produced the optimal amount of Pt (~200 mT sold for $4.5B), the excess steel would be 2 million tonnes--enough to build 4,000 ISS's. At 10K/kg, that's worth $20 trillion; that is equal to the US GDP.

Bottom Line: it's quite clear that platinum is wagging the dog when it comes to mining iron asteroids.
« Last Edit: 04/06/2017 09:13 PM by Warren Platts »
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Offline allhumanbeings07

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #23 on: 04/07/2017 12:16 AM »
Platinium is far from the most valuable material that can be mined in space Iridium is worth far more to terrestrial civilisation because you can use iridium to create artificial photosynthesis and remove atmospheric  CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into fuel .

How would anyone like a panel on their roof that makes fuel that they can put in their car or heat their house for free ?

{citation needed}

Well, we have solar panels and electric cars already, no asteroids required
I love Star Trek more than anyone, but we don't (and shouldn't) spend tens of billions of dollars on space programs for fun

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #24 on: 04/07/2017 01:10 AM »
Understanding the demand side of the equation could go a long way to determining the threshold amount for "crashing" the market.

Yes, the demand curve will be key. I did some fooling around with the (linear) demand curve seemingly implied by the 2014 Pt strike (where a 20% reduction in supply caused an apparent 10% spike in prices), and I get a formula of:

P = -0.115384615 * Q + 45,000

where P is the price in $/kg, and Q is total annual production in kilograms per year. (For present prices I'm assuming $30K/kg and 130,000 kg of produced Pt.)

I got some interesting results: once production causes the price to decline below $22.5K/kg (25% less than current prices), total revenue starts going down. So the optimal price point is $22.5K/kg, with a total production of 195 mT, and total revenue of $4.4B, compared to total revenues today of approximately $3.9B.

Thus, to do the predatory pricing strategy, assuming a 50% price reduction would do the trick, they would have to double the total production, and their revenues at that point would still be $3.9B.

As for the benefit to society, at the optimal point, the consumer surplus per year would be about $1.2B (that is, money freed up that can be spent on other things). If they kept the price at $15K/kg (50% of today's price), then the consumer surplus would be nearly $3B/year.


I like your analysis. Really drives home the point that the market even for all of the platinum group metals is pretty small. Smaller than Intelsat and SES's revenue combined, even assuming you saturate the market. Even so, it's a big enough market to be interesting if you can somehow get the costs low enough. But it's not going to dramatically expand the space economy.
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Offline savuporo

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #25 on: 04/07/2017 03:20 AM »
Demand for $1 per gram of platinum doesn't look like that, at all
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Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #26 on: 04/07/2017 09:05 AM »
Heat shields for ore can be very different than those of people. It does not matter if the shield melts providing it does not burn off. Vacuum can be used as an insulator.

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #27 on: 04/07/2017 04:59 PM »
Demand for $1 per gram of platinum doesn't look like that, at all.

OK, fine. Let's assume brand new uses of platinum can be found if the price drops low enough. If the entire 500 m asteroid was processed in a year, that's comparable to the annual earthly production of silver, which is currently about $586/kg, so the price of Pt at that point is going to be comparable. I suspect that since Pt is harder to worker with (due to it's much higher melting point), it would be worth a little less than silver. So let's just call it $0.50 per gram when production get's to 22,750 mT/yr (the 175X the current production mentioned in the article).

So that gives us our three points from which to calculate a curve:

(Q, P)
(104, 33)
(130, 30)
(22750, 0.5)

I found this calculator for constructing a curve of the form y = (ax + c)/(x - b) that has the general shape you're looking for. It matches the 3 points to within tiny fractions of a percent.

http://www.had2know.com/academics/rational-function-regression-calculator.html

On this curve, revenue always keeps increasing no matter how much you produce, but you run into heavy diminishing returns. Processing the entire asteroid (i.e., increasing production by a factor of 175) increases revenue to $11B--an increase by a factor of less than 3. Another doubling of production to 50,000 mT/year only brings in a total of $15B/year.

Now, $11B is certainly a lot of money to you or me, but it's about 0.05% of the US economy. There's no way the next trillionaire is going to come from a platinum titan.

On the other hand, after you're done processing your 22,750 mT of Pt, you've now got $20 trillion worth of Inconel steel waste you've got to throw away....  :-X

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Offline savuporo

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #28 on: 04/07/2017 07:03 PM »
I found this calculator for constructing a curve of the form y = (ax + c)/(x - b) that has the general shape you're looking for. It matches the 3 points to within tiny fractions of a percent.

http://www.had2know.com/academics/rational-function-regression-calculator.html

WolframAlpha does that pretty well too, btw
http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=logarithmic+fit+%7B104,+33%7D,+%7B130,+30%7D,+%7B22750,+0.5%7D

Or if you want widget: http://www.wolframalpha.com/widgets/view.jsp?id=a96a9e81ac4bbb54f8002bb61b8d3472
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Offline DanielW

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #29 on: 04/07/2017 07:31 PM »
I think predictions of asteroid mining crashing markets are a bit premature. Once you capture that amazing shiny rock, you still need to process it and transport it. None of that is going to be free or fast.

If prices do indeed fall significantly that open the possibility of using what were exotic materials for more mundane things. The final market could be larger.

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #30 on: 04/08/2017 08:49 AM »
I found this calculator for constructing a curve of the form y = (ax + c)/(x - b) that has the general shape you're looking for. It matches the 3 points to within tiny fractions of a percent.

http://www.had2know.com/academics/rational-function-regression-calculator.html

WolframAlpha does that pretty well too, btw
http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=logarithmic+fit+%7B104,+33%7D,+%7B130,+30%7D,+%7B22750,+0.5%7D

Or if you want widget: http://www.wolframalpha.com/widgets/view.jsp?id=a96a9e81ac4bbb54f8002bb61b8d3472

Interesting, but the logarithmic plot doesn't capture the features we want very well. First of all, it goes to zero soon after 22,750 mT (24,618 mT to be exact), so it doesn't truly capture the idea that new uses will enter the game at cheap prices. (An artifact of any demand curve that goes to zero revenue levels is, apparently, there will be an optimal price point: 9,000 mT @ $2.57/gram $5.92 in this example generating $23B$53B/year.)

Also, it's not very accurate at the left end, if I entered the formula correctly: =-5.8854*LOGLN(0.0000406214*V12)

The three points for the log graph are reproduced as {104, 13.97}, {130, 13.40}, {22750, 0.2}
{104, 32.17}, {130, 30.86}, {22750, 0.46} compared to
{104, 33.00002}, {130, 30.00002}, {22750, 0.50004} for the rational function regression.
« Last Edit: 04/09/2017 02:27 PM by Warren Platts »
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Offline Oli

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #31 on: 04/08/2017 04:38 PM »

I've been searching for "MIT’s Mission 2016", which the article refers to.

I only found this site, which itself refers to websites which themselves refer to 2012 studies by planetary resources and NASA on the asteroid retrieval mission (among others).

http://web.mit.edu/12.000/www/m2016/finalwebsite/solutions/asteroids.html

A lot of hot air if you ask me.

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #32 on: 04/09/2017 06:46 PM »
A lot of hot air if you ask me.

It is. Also, one must question the wisdom of a 98 page report on space mining (I still can't locate a copy--if anyone can, please post it here) that does not compare and contrast lunar mining with asteroid mining. It's not at all clear which activity would have the comparative advantage in the "short run" at least.

However, the presence of a 500 m metallic asteroid in Earth orbit (I'd put in one of the Trojan Lagrange points in order to minimize orbital debris issues) remains an intriguing concept from a scifi viewpoint if nothing else.

The thing is, the Pt contained within the asteroid is small potatoes. The main thing is you've got 524 million tonnes (assuming a 500 m sphere, density 8,000 kg/m^3) of good nickel ore. It is an exaggeration to say an iron meteorite is "Nature's Inconel"--since Inconel is mostly made of nickel, not iron, whereas iron is the dominant constituent of an iron meteorite. Thus, if the prospectors did their job properly, they would try to find an asteroid with a high nickel content, which can get up to 25%. At current prices, that' would  be worth $1.3 trillion. Of course there's still the problem of dumping: 131 million tonnes of Ni exceeds the current production of 2 million tonnes by a factor of 65. Less bad than the 175X that the Pt would entail, but would have a big effect.

That leaves the iron. Scrap steel goes for around 10 cents a kilogram. Meanwhile, total steel production is like 1.6 billion tonnes, compared to the mass of the asteroid of 524 million tonnes. That's going to have a big effect on the market, but at least it won't swamp it by multiple factors. Assuming you could get $0.10/kg, (I figure the Ni would be worth at least that), total value would be $52.4 billion. NOW, we're finally talking some turkey--albeit, still not quite in the Exxon ballpark. The benefit to society would be huge as well, as it would crash the price of Inconel, and make it an everyday material, causing a huge consumer surplus for that product.

« Last Edit: 04/09/2017 06:48 PM by Warren Platts »
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Offline Paul451

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #33 on: 04/10/2017 03:39 AM »
I think predictions of asteroid mining crashing markets are a bit premature. Once you capture that amazing shiny rock, you still need to process it and transport it. None of that is going to be free or fast.

The issue isn't that mining PGMs from asteroids is cheap, it's whether the total annual demand for extra platinum is sufficient to pay for the minimum cost of mining the asteroid.

At some rate of production, you are causing the market price to drop below your production costs. Resulting in zero profit. If you do nothing, you also make zero profit. Somewhere in between is the maximum profit, at a specific rate of production.

If the global market is too small, that maximum profit is below the ROI necessary to attract enough investment to pay for the initial development & infrastructure costs.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 03:40 AM by Paul451 »

Offline incoming

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #34 on: 04/11/2017 08:47 PM »
Actually, there is reason to believe the costs of production could be radically lower. The cost of "mining" the asteroid is really mainly the cost of moving the object to Earth orbit. Once there, since it's mostly metal, slabs of the asteroid could be fed directly into an electric arc blast furnace. This is A LOT easier than trying to beneficiate ore.

The thing is, the "slag" that would result is basically nature's own Inconel steel, which is the best steel known to mankind. You could then use this to manufacture satellites and other structures for use in space. The deadweight value of these items would be equal to the cost it would take to launch the same mass from Earth's surface. Basically, the value of the steel would be the per kg launch costs.

Thus enough steel to build a structure with twice the mass of the ISS (~500 mT), and if launch costs are $10K/kg, then the value added would be worth ~$10B right there. If Pt is at 100 ppm concentration (which is extremely high), after producing 1,000 tonnes of steel, you'd have a paltry 0.1 tonnes of Pt.

Flipping that around, if you produced the optimal amount of Pt (~200 mT sold for $4.5B), the excess steel would be 2 million tonnes--enough to build 4,000 ISS's. At 10K/kg, that's worth $20 trillion; that is equal to the US GDP.

Bottom Line: it's quite clear that platinum is wagging the dog when it comes to mining iron asteroids.

I think there's another point embedded here that always seems to materialize whenever I look at these types of analyses - space resources can absolutely be viable economically...as long as you are planning to use them in space.  I've just never seen a compelling business case where bringing large amounts of space resources down to Earth makes much sense without large "and then a miracle happens" speculative leaps.

Which is interesting, because harvesting space resources is often cited as a rationale for increased activity in space (most often, in support of a moon base).  See the circular logic?   

Offline savuporo

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #35 on: 04/12/2017 05:52 AM »
.. I've just never seen a compelling business case where bringing large amounts of space resources down to Earth makes much sense ... 

PGMs have have only a few geographical locations on earth with substantial viable resources. What if access to some of those is suddenly destabilized ?
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Offline Paul451

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #36 on: 04/12/2017 08:16 AM »
I think there's another point embedded here that always seems to materialize whenever I look at these types of analyses - space resources can absolutely be viable economically...as long as you are planning to use them in space.  I've just never seen a compelling business case where bringing large amounts of space resources down to Earth makes much sense without large "and then a miracle happens" speculative leaps.

While I generally agree, and I prefer to focus on volatiles for use in space, PGMs are valuable enough that they are on the cusp of viable.

Which is interesting, because harvesting space resources is often cited as a rationale for increased activity in space (most often, in support of a moon base).  See the circular logic?

It's not circular. If you have an industry that extracts resources for use in space (such as fuel), you lower the price for other activities (such as PGM mining). If you have a market for asteroid-mined PGMs, then you have the basic infrastructure necessary to extract other resources for use in space. It doesn't matter which comes first, it one is viable, it makes the other more viable. Once regular mining is established, the "waste" from one process becomes cheap enough that you might as well bring it back to Earth (such as nickel), even though it would never have justified the creation of the necessary infrastructure on its own. Likewise, bulk materials left over from other processing may end up cheap enough that they can substitute for bulk material (aluminium tanks, shielding, trusses, etc) that would otherwise be brought from Earth.

It's about self-reinforcing development. Not a circle, but a spiral.

Offline mikelepage

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #37 on: 04/12/2017 09:02 AM »
Doesn't the idea that extra Platinum will crash the market assume that there won't be new uses for Platinum once the price drops?

I've heard Aluminium used as a analogy for something that was once expensive and rare.

Platinum, Palladium, Iridium are all metals that would be really useful in wider applications if they were less expensive and less rare.

Offline Paul451

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #38 on: 04/12/2017 10:46 AM »
Doesn't the idea that extra Platinum will crash the market assume that there won't be new uses for Platinum once the price drops?
I've heard Aluminium used as a analogy for something that was once expensive and rare.
Platinum, Palladium, Iridium are all metals that would be really useful in wider applications if they were less expensive and less rare.

Sure, but it takes time. And you don't know, in advance, what the market demand and demand/price curve will look like. Which means you can't play with mine production rates vs infrastructure and operations costs, to see if your business case closes.

Offline incoming

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #39 on: 04/12/2017 01:25 PM »
I think there's another point embedded here that always seems to materialize whenever I look at these types of analyses - space resources can absolutely be viable economically...as long as you are planning to use them in space.  I've just never seen a compelling business case where bringing large amounts of space resources down to Earth makes much sense without large "and then a miracle happens" speculative leaps.

While I generally agree, and I prefer to focus on volatiles for use in space, PGMs are valuable enough that they are on the cusp of viable.

Which is interesting, because harvesting space resources is often cited as a rationale for increased activity in space (most often, in support of a moon base).  See the circular logic?

It's not circular. If you have an industry that extracts resources for use in space (such as fuel), you lower the price for other activities (such as PGM mining). If you have a market for asteroid-mined PGMs, then you have the basic infrastructure necessary to extract other resources for use in space. It doesn't matter which comes first, it one is viable, it makes the other more viable. Once regular mining is established, the "waste" from one process becomes cheap enough that you might as well bring it back to Earth (such as nickel), even though it would never have justified the creation of the necessary infrastructure on its own. Likewise, bulk materials left over from other processing may end up cheap enough that they can substitute for bulk material (aluminium tanks, shielding, trusses, etc) that would otherwise be brought from Earth.

It's about self-reinforcing development. Not a circle, but a spiral.

I agree that once you are out there going for volatiles it's perhaps marginally less to go for metals as well, and vice-versa.  I do not agree that it's ever trivial to bring back large amounts of very heavy, dense material to Earth.  The ISS program is an example, albeit an imperfect one.  But from time to time cargo downmass can be just as big of an issue for them as cargo upmass.  Granted returning raw material that isn't sensitive to g-loads and far less sensitive to other natural and induced environmental factors isn't the same as returning lab samples or hardware for repair. But it still requires a lot of delta V that you have to produce somehow, and unless we're willing to pick a country to rain asteroids down on and then go collect our bounty it has to be done gracefully. And when people on this thread are talking about doing that for hundreds of thousands of tons of metal, that is not at all trivial. 

Finally - I'm not sure how your argument refutes my point that resource extraction is not a compelling rationale for exploration of  space, at least given the current economics surrounding PGMs.  It's certainly an enabling technology for exploration, and there may come a day when, if we're out there anyway for a different reason or set of reasons, it starts to make sense to bring stuff back. But I think that day is a long time and several technological generations in the future, and I stand by my point that any argument that we should explore space in order to bring back resources is illogical given the current and foreseeable term economics.  I would love to be convinced otherwise, but not if it requires "the willing suspension of disbelief."

   

Offline as58

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #40 on: 04/12/2017 07:15 PM »
I don't know if it's from the Goldman Sachs paper or just written for the Business Insider article, but that comparison of $2.6B (IMO optimistic) cost estimate for a 500-ton asteroid capture and $1B set-up cost of a new mine on Earth isn't exactly apples-to-apples.

Offline Paul451

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #41 on: 04/12/2017 11:27 PM »
[edit: 2/3rds of this is probably strictly off-topic. But the post is hopefully long enough to confuse the mods.]

I agree that once you are out there going for volatiles it's perhaps marginally less to go for metals as well, and vice-versa. I do not agree that it's ever trivial to bring back large amounts of very heavy, dense material to Earth.

Not trivial, it just has to be profitable. Do that, and the process should ratchet, each step justifying investment in infrastructure and capacity that lowers the price of the next step.

Re: ISS. The material being bought back is prepared scientific samples. It needs to be protected, in some cases even refrigerated. It necessitates a re-entry capsule.

If there is large scale mining of high-value items, such as PGMs -- if that business case ever closes -- then subsequent efforts to lower costs may be to shape the metal into a direct re-entry capable shape and coat it with slag from the mining as a heat-shield. (The PGMs "lithobrake", but at a reasonable terminal velocity to allow simple recovery of the metal.) Once that capacity exists, then the same method may also work on larger amounts of lower value metal like nickel.

Not having a parachute or other gentle recovery doesn't mean "asteroid impact", it's not binary. Recovery systems on capsules only cover the final few hundred km/h, the bulk of braking comes from the re-entry shape. A bubble of metal covered with an ablative heat-shield can reduce that terminal velocity to any arbitrary level. Trades will come from impact speed (risks plus recovery costs) vs processing costs to produce and coat the bubble.

And when people on this thread are talking about doing that for hundreds of thousands of tons of metal, that is not at all trivial.

Iron is cheap. So obviously it will be a long time before metallic iron from space is cheaper than mining and processing iron ore on Earth.

IMO, decades before it would ever compete with prices on Earth, there'll be earlier steps where it's cheaper to use asteroidal iron (and aluminium, etc) in "export replacement" for in-space uses. The point where it is cheaper than Earth-mining will spin-off from the existing in-situ use. (Ie, at some point, someone might be able to argue, "Cost of expanding production to meet projections of next 30yrs in-space use is $X billion, giving a unit price of $n/tonne. However, the cost of tripling the production rate is much less than $3X billion, giving a unit price much less than $n/tonne, that not only undercuts our rivals for in-space markets, increasing both revenues and profit margin per unit, but it even brings us within range of Earth prices...")

Finally - I'm not sure how your argument refutes my point that resource extraction is not a compelling rationale for exploration of space, at least given the current economics surrounding PGMs.  It's certainly an enabling technology for exploration, and there may come a day when, if we're out there anyway for a different reason or set of reasons, it starts to make sense to bring stuff back.

It's the self-reinforcing aspect.

We clearly want to explore space. We spend a small fortune on it each year. Yet the cost of access and operations puts hard limits on what we can do. Demonstrated by the fact that multi-billion dollar space-rated (hence dumb, slow, limited) robotic systems are cheaper than sending an underpaid grad student with a trowel. Anything that significantly lowers the cost of accessing space will increase the number of people who can do the things they want. Anything that significantly lowers the cost of operating humans in space will increase the number of people who can do things they want personally, on site.

And once you get to that level, it's obvious that people will do foolish and wasteful things, like tourism or even colonies, expanding the demand for volatiles (fuel, air, water), shielding, habitats, even food. That creates potential business cases for new industries, creating yet more activity...

Flipping it around. If lowering the price of access to space brings the cost of PGMs within range of Earth prices, at production rates that don't crash the price too hard, then the infrastructure that is created to do so can be used for other things. (By "infrastructure", I'm including transport systems to/from the asteroid & Earth.) And the mining operation itself becomes a market for other materials (such as fuel), which may help close the business case for volatile mining. Creating routine reusable transport to/from Earth means that you lower the price for many other activities in space (even if mostly unmanned). And lowering the price of fuel (hence the price of delta-v), lowers the cost of even manned activities in space. Which increases the market for other materials and products in space, which....

It doesn't matter what the entry point is, once we're in, we're in.



My personal opinion is that the case for PGMs doesn't close yet, even if New-Space lowers the launch prices. Cheap in-situ fuel must come first. The neat thing about that is that I strongly believe the ices trapped at the lunar poles will be extremely scientifically valuable. So confirming the existence and studying the nature of that polar ice is of existing scientific value, without any regard for future commercial markets. You don't need to commercially justify a survey of lunar polar ice, it's just a scientific mission. (Likewise studying remnant comets in the inner solar system, to see if they are "dry" or just an insulating layer of carbon-materials over mixed ices. Any answer is scientifically valuable, and one specific answer might be commercially valuable in the future.)

But if someone actually can make money from mining PGMs, it simply makes volatile mining more viable, giving the volatile-miner a guaranteed anchor client. So I'm hardly going to be disappointed if PGM-advocates are right.



[Aside: Some people argue that if you lower the price of launch, you undermine the market for in-space fuel. However, IMO, by lowering the price of launch significantly, you expand the range of activities in space enough to increase the overall demand for in-situ fuel (and air/water). Look at SpaceX's Mars plans. Even ITS doesn't work if they had to bring their return fuel with them. A fully fuelled ITS-BFS in LEO is just capable of landing on the Moon and returning to Earth on a single tank; but it's vastly more capable if it lands on the Moon, refuels, then returns to Earth. It's even more capable if an ITS-tanker operating on the Moon is ferrying fuel to L1.]

[edit: some typos and ambiguous grammar]
« Last Edit: 04/25/2017 03:20 AM by Paul451 »

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #42 on: 04/24/2017 01:28 PM »
Interesting related article from Bloomberg:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-23/space-the-final-frontier-seen-for-earth-s-crude-oil-giants

Quote
water accumulated in space would become valuable as it could be used for rocket fuel for interstellar voyages. The substance is too heavy and costly to transport from Earth.  ;D

Re: lithobraking, I think Jon Goff once proposed constructing hollow platinum spheres that might be able to survive reentry. Actually, since the sphere would be made in a pure vacuum, if it was thin enough, and big enough, it would have neutral buoyancy in air.  The diameter d of such a sphere with a thickness t can be given by:

d = 6 * t * Pt_density/Air_density

Thus, if I did it right, 195 mT in one sphere, if it was 0.64 mm thick walls, would have a diameter of 67.24 meters and have neutral bouyancy, assuming the atmospheric pressure didn't crush it.
« Last Edit: 04/24/2017 01:29 PM by Warren Platts »
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Offline envy887

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #43 on: 04/24/2017 01:34 PM »
Interesting related article from Bloomberg:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-23/space-the-final-frontier-seen-for-earth-s-crude-oil-giants

Quote
water accumulated in space would become valuable as it could be used for rocket fuel for interstellar voyages. The substance is too heavy and costly to transport from Earth.  ;D

Re: lithobraking, I think Jon Goff once proposed constructing hollow platinum spheres that might be able to survive reentry. Actually, since the sphere would be made in a pure vacuum, if it was thin enough, and big enough, it would have neutral buoyancy in air.  The diameter d of such a sphere with a thickness t can be given by:

d = 6 * t * Pt_density/Air_density

Thus, if I did it right, 195 mT in one sphere, if it was 0.64 mm thick walls, would have a diameter of 67.24 meters and have neutral bouyancy, assuming the atmospheric pressure didn't crush it.

Evacuated spheres light enough to float in air will always buckle under atmospheric pressure on Earth, for any known material.

However, extremely thin sheets or foils might both survive reentry and land mostly intact at a very low terminal velocity due to an extremely high ratio of surface area per unit mass.

Offline Paul451

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #44 on: 04/25/2017 09:07 AM »
d = 6 * t * Pt_density/Air_density
Thus, if I did it right, 195 mT in one sphere, if it was 0.64 mm thick walls, would have a diameter of 67.24 meters and have neutral bouyancy, assuming the atmospheric pressure didn't crush it.

You used sea-level air density, which exerts 10 tonnes/m³ of pressure. 0.64mm of any substance won't sustain 10t/m³ without crushing.

However, re: lithobraking. You don't need to have any kind of gentle descent. As long as it is subsonic by the time it hits the chosen landing zone, the metal will be easily recoverable. You'll be aiming for a desert, of course, but recovery is simple.

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #45 on: 04/25/2017 01:13 PM »
I found a pressure vessel calculator. 0.64 mm would work for a vacuum chamber about 4 feet in diameter, but as you increase the diameter, the thickness of the wall must also increase. To get the average density to equal air, the diameter must also increase, so there's never a point where a metal ball can float in air, I am convinced.

As discussed previously, a 500 meter iron asteroid would have a trillion dollars worth of Ni at current prices. (100 million tonnes at $10/kg). Current mining production is about 2 million tonnes per year, so one asteroid would be a 50 year supply. (There are about 130 million tonnes of nickel in known, unmined reserves.) So if we could figure out a cheap way to get such masses down to Earth's surface, there is definitely some money to be made.

As for lithobraking, why would a desert be preferable to say, an ocean, or lake, or maybe even a big glacier?
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Offline RonM

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #46 on: 04/25/2017 01:42 PM »
As for lithobraking, why would a desert be preferable to say, an ocean, or lake, or maybe even a big glacier?

Easier to find and recover the material.

Online TrevorMonty

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #47 on: 04/25/2017 07:59 PM »
For high value metals like gold and platinum, they could be returned to earth in reusable 2nd stage. Assuming moon or asteriod water extraction is already in place, the metals can be delivered to LEO on water/fuel tanker as secondary payload. A 1t gold would take up very little space in 2nd stage but could add a few $M to mission profit for normally unprofitable return leg.

Even if water isn't being return to LEO a OTV still needs to return so a extra few $M on this leg from   1t gold would help profit margin.


Offline JH

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #48 on: 04/27/2017 01:23 AM »
Wasn't Planetary Resources looking into foaming metals for return? The idea being that by drastically decreasing areal density, you could just aim the material at some open land and then pick up the (flattened) pieces.

Offline dodo

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #49 on: 05/04/2017 06:21 AM »
Small out-of-the-box, ignorant contribution: just let the material crash-burn into a deserted area. Repeated application of this would enrich the area for traditional mining.

P.S.: That said, with the obvious consideration for the value of goods already in orbit and usable up there.
« Last Edit: 05/04/2017 06:35 AM by dodo »

Offline saliva_sweet

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #50 on: 05/10/2017 08:01 PM »
What kind of temperature would a chunk of metal reach if allowed to reenter on its own? PGMs don't burn I think. They could boil away, but would have to get pretty hot to do so.

Offline whitelancer64

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #51 on: 05/10/2017 08:27 PM »
What kind of temperature would a chunk of metal reach if allowed to reenter on its own? PGMs don't burn I think. They could boil away, but would have to get pretty hot to do so.

It wouldn't melt, but some portion of it would ablate away. Best to have it shaped into a sphere-cone shape and coated in a heatshield material to minimize any losses.
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Offline envy887

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #52 on: 05/16/2017 02:31 PM »
What kind of temperature would a chunk of metal reach if allowed to reenter on its own? PGMs don't burn I think. They could boil away, but would have to get pretty hot to do so.

It wouldn't vaporize on reentry, but it might when it hits the ground at Mach 10.

Offline IRobot

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #53 on: 05/16/2017 02:46 PM »
Why not making a "dumb" container with some parachutes activated by pressure?
The container does not have to be pressurized, so it could be made in modules, launched folded and assembled in space, to save volume. Parachutes would be just a box attached to one of the panels/struts.

Offline as58

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #54 on: 05/26/2017 10:48 AM »
I guess this fits in with the theme of this thread: https://www.buzzfeed.com/jimwaterson/this-ukip-candidate-wants-the-uk-to-invest-in-asteroid

Quote
A UKIP candidate has pledged to invest more than £1 billion in the asteroid mining industry if he wins a seat, as he believes that Brexit provides a major opportunity for Britain to lead the world in sending nanoprobes to outer space to mine platinum.

Aidan Powlesland, who is standing for parliament in the rural seat of South Suffolk, told BuzzFeed News he wants to set aside £100 million for "an interstellar colony ship design" and £30 million for an "interstellar nano-probe fleet design" designed to attract the attention of Russian investor Yuri Milner, and will provide a £1 billion prize to any private company that can mine the asteroid belt by 2026.

Offline Norm38

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #55 on: 05/26/2017 06:48 PM »
Doesn't the idea that extra Platinum will crash the market assume that there won't be new uses for Platinum once the price drops?

I've heard Aluminium used as a analogy for something that was once expensive and rare.

Platinum, Palladium, Iridium are all metals that would be really useful in wider applications if they were less expensive and less rare.

The top of the Washington Monument is aluminum because at the time it was the most expensive metal on earth.  Now it's so cheap people don't bother to recycle it.  Yet plenty of profit is still made.
The rare metals have so many amazing engineering uses, but the engineers don't get to entertain any of them because of the cost.  Go ahead and crash the market, so us engineers can innovate and develop thousands of new uses.

Keeping platinum expensive and rare makes as much sense as keeping aluminum expensive and rare, and only using it for trinkets.
In an alternate reality, there are no airplanes, no rockets, and everyone wears aluminum wedding rings.

Note:  The Washington monument was completed in 1888 and at that time, barely a single modern use of aluminum was known to man.
« Last Edit: 05/26/2017 06:52 PM by Norm38 »

Offline JasonAW3

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #56 on: 05/26/2017 07:29 PM »
Returning metals from 16 Psyche needn't be quite as elaborate as many seem to think.

      After mining, assuming a healthy mix of silicates and non-volatile gasses, one simply does a preliminary bit of refining, separating much of the silicates from the metals, as well as separating and storing the various gasses.

      After separating the gasses, using the non-volatile gases from the more volatile ones; use those gases in a low gravity melt pot with the silicates to foam the silicates and coat the ingots of semi-refined metals with the foamed silicates, formed into a rudimentary lifting body.

      Using a portion of the volatile gasses from the initial refining, as well as some disposable guidance units including rocket motors 3d printed from local, available materials, and using a linear accelerator, again, 3d printed from local materials, send the ingots, roughly about 10 tonnes each, towards Earth.

      The guidance packages would then fly the ingots into an aerobraking set of orbits around the Earth to slow the ingots down enough for a controlled reentry.  Once in the atmosphere, the guidance package would use the on board rocket motors to guide the ingots to a desert area, where they could make a controlled slideout or air stalled crash.  (How the final landing is accomplished isn't that important as the delivered payload isn't really crash sensitive)

       As 3/4 of the silicate foam would likely have ablated during the aerobraking and reentry, recovery and removal of the ingots should be fairly simple.

      The above assumes of course, that more traditional smelting and refinery techniques would be used on Earth.   The task becomes much more simplified assuming that the ingots are simply aerobraked into orbit for zero g recovery and refining.  (I'm more a fan of a Lunar L-5 smelting site, rather than in LEO).

     Overall; this set up assumes minimal onsite Human interaction with the systems, if any at all.  In theory, the entire operation could be automated.  It would, however, be a good idea to have someone on site for repairs and modifications as needed.  Likely a team of between 4 to 6 people, with overlapping skill sets.  Accidents can and likely will happen, and unfortunately, most likely, they'd usually be quite fatal.

      Even assuming single 10 tonne ingots could be launched at a rate of one an hour, it would take many months, if not years, before the prices of metals, both common and rare earth, would be significantly affected.  This again, assumes that the metals are transported Earth side, rather than simply used in space.

      If the latter happened, the effects it would have on the markets on Earth would be minimal, if any.
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Offline savuporo

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #57 on: 05/26/2017 08:37 PM »

Evacuated spheres light enough to float in air will always buckle under atmospheric pressure on Earth, for any known material.

Is there a middle ground though? If you are advanced enough to make a hollow sphere in space, then you can probably make other shapes as well like wings,  and can probably find some gaseous internal pressurant too, like oxygen. Give it enough internal pressure not to crumple.

I'm thinking something like JP Aerospace airship to orbit, only in reverse. Humongous slightly negative byuoyancy flying wing made out of platinum, coming from orbit. Would that work, physics wise?

If nothing else, I'll need to write a sci-fi story around that..
« Last Edit: 05/26/2017 08:38 PM by savuporo »
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #58 on: 05/26/2017 11:23 PM »

Evacuated spheres light enough to float in air will always buckle under atmospheric pressure on Earth, for any known material.

Is there a middle ground though? If you are advanced enough to make a hollow sphere in space, then you can probably make other shapes as well like wings,  and can probably find some gaseous internal pressurant too, like oxygen. Give it enough internal pressure not to crumple.

I'm thinking something like JP Aerospace airship to orbit, only in reverse. Humongous slightly negative byuoyancy flying wing made out of platinum, coming from orbit. Would that work, physics wise?

If you want something that works physics-wise, don't use JP Aerospace as your inspiration.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #59 on: 05/26/2017 11:28 PM »

Evacuated spheres light enough to float in air will always buckle under atmospheric pressure on Earth, for any known material.

Is there a middle ground though? If you are advanced enough to make a hollow sphere in space, then you can probably make other shapes as well like wings,  and can probably find some gaseous internal pressurant too, like oxygen. Give it enough internal pressure not to crumple.

I'm thinking something like JP Aerospace airship to orbit, only in reverse. Humongous slightly negative byuoyancy flying wing made out of platinum, coming from orbit. Would that work, physics wise?

The important thing to remember is that when you're in orbit, you have a huge amount of kinetic energy relative to the surface.  To land your blob of platinum, that energy has to go somewhere.  Where is it going to go?

There's a reason that most meteors that enter the Earth's atmosphere explode before reaching the surface.

Offline savuporo

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #60 on: 05/27/2017 12:13 AM »
There's a reason that most meteors that enter the Earth's atmosphere explode before reaching the surface.

Plenty of spacecraft pieces, specifically spherical tanks coming down from can survive relatively intact, so you could specifically design for it. I actually looked if anyone had proposals for landing Shuttle ETs relatively intact and came across US4832288 and other wacky hypersonic drag device proposals, mostly inflatable.
But for mined material starting in space, it doesn't need to be inflatable. If you can make thin sheet materials, then making a big stacked toroid blunted cone or tension cone would be feasible as well.
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Offline Stan-1967

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #61 on: 05/27/2017 01:36 AM »
I think it is also worth investigating methods to bring high value raw material to the earths surface that are more brutish, yet possible more economical & within existing technological capability.

Here is my proposal:
1. Baseline mass return is around 1000ton or less, which is in the ballpark of the Asteroid redirect mission profile.

2. Space mining will focus on precious metal initially.  Returning low value metals like nickel & iron just may never be worth it, & they are probably worth more to use in space for building structures.    This example will use platinum.

3.  I think in space refining will need to separate the Pt from the bulk of the asteroid material.  This is where the majority of operational cost will be.

4. Once separated & refined, it will be melted & formed into a slug/projectile. Some Ni/Fe may be utilized as sacrificial material on the blunt end, & as a casing for the Pt that will undergo entry heating as it encounters earths atmosphere. 

5.  A 1000 ton slug of Pt would be around 4.46 meter in diameter, if it was made spherical.  Ideally I would make it cylindrical, with a Ni-Fe blunted nose.  The value of the Pt metal is around $31 Billion USD ( around 7-8 years of annual planetary consumption of Pt )

6.  Precision crash land it somewhere in the arctic ocean, where ocean depth is around 1000m, but basically within the capability for robotic retrieval equipment.

An object of this size entering the earths atmosphere at a 45 degree angle at 20 kps would likely survive entirely intact on the seafloor.  ( I entered the parameters in this interesting model )   You could also separate  the 1000 tons into multiple projectiles to customize the impact events to minimize material loss and environmental impact.
http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEffects/

So for $31 Billion USD sitting at a well defined location on the seafloor:
A.  Can technology be made to retrieve the metals for circulation into global Pt demand and still make money?
B.  Can a space mining company make and acceptable environmental impact arguments of conducting sub megaton impact events in an ocean vs. the impact of conventional mining?

Seems plausible to me.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #62 on: 05/27/2017 08:28 AM »
I think it is also worth investigating methods to bring high value raw material to the earths surface that are more brutish, yet possible more economical & within existing technological capability.

Here is my proposal:
1. Baseline mass return is around 1000ton or less, which is in the ballpark of the Asteroid redirect mission profile.

2. Space mining will focus on precious metal initially.  Returning low value metals like nickel & iron just may never be worth it, & they are probably worth more to use in space for building structures.    This example will use platinum.

3.  I think in space refining will need to separate the Pt from the bulk of the asteroid material.  This is where the majority of operational cost will be.

4. Once separated & refined, it will be melted & formed into a slug/projectile. Some Ni/Fe may be utilized as sacrificial material on the blunt end, & as a casing for the Pt that will undergo entry heating as it encounters earths atmosphere. 

5.  A 1000 ton slug of Pt would be around 4.46 meter in diameter, if it was made spherical.  Ideally I would make it cylindrical, with a Ni-Fe blunted nose.  The value of the Pt metal is around $31 Billion USD ( around 7-8 years of annual planetary consumption of Pt )

6.  Precision crash land it somewhere in the arctic ocean, where ocean depth is around 1000m, but basically within the capability for robotic retrieval equipment.

An object of this size entering the earths atmosphere at a 45 degree angle at 20 kps would likely survive entirely intact on the seafloor.  ( I entered the parameters in this interesting model )   You could also separate  the 1000 tons into multiple projectiles to customize the impact events to minimize material loss and environmental impact.
http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEffects/

So for $31 Billion USD sitting at a well defined location on the seafloor:
A.  Can technology be made to retrieve the metals for circulation into global Pt demand and still make money?
B.  Can a space mining company make and acceptable environmental impact arguments of conducting sub megaton impact events in an ocean vs. the impact of conventional mining?

Seems plausible to me.

You're completely glossing over the biggest cost here -- extracting 1,000 tons of platinum from an asteroid in the first place.

The class of asteroids richest in platinum have around 30 parts per million of platinum.  At the high end, they can go up to 63.8 parts per million:

http://www.nss.org/settlement/asteroids/RoleOfNearEarthAsteroidsInLongTermPlatinumSupply.pdf

Processing ore to extract such tiny concentrations requires a huge infrastructure.  It would be incredibly expensive to set up and operate a plant in space to do that.  Even on Earth, such plants require a lot of human labor to maintain, in addition to water, lubricants, and stocks of various chemicals.  Doing that in space would not only require housing and supplying all those people but also finding ways to overcoming the challenges of doing it all in microgravity and vacuum.

The costs would quite clearly be much higher than the costs of extracting the same amount of platinum from mines on Earth.  The somewhat higher concentrations of platinum in the ore would be more than offset by the enormous cost multiple of doing it all in space.

Someday, when we have millions of people already living in space, the costs of infrastructure off Earth will decline enough that it will become economically competitive to mine platinum from asteroids versus mines on the Earth's surface.  We are very far from that day.
« Last Edit: 05/27/2017 08:28 AM by ChrisWilson68 »

Offline Paul451

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #63 on: 05/27/2017 10:48 AM »
6.  Precision crash land it somewhere in the arctic ocean, where ocean depth is around 1000m, but basically within the capability for robotic retrieval equipment.

Why an ocean impact?

Offline floss

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #64 on: 05/27/2017 01:55 PM »

 www.sciencealert.com/a-new-type-of-artificial-photosynthesis-cleans-the-air-and-produces-energy#.WSmDe3F2xeg.link


There is very little Iridium near the surface of Earth  but stoney asteroids like the KT impactor have loads of Iridium in them .Iridium is the best catalyst yet found.

Cheers Floss

« Last Edit: 05/27/2017 02:43 PM by floss »

Offline Lar

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #65 on: 05/27/2017 02:09 PM »


 www.sciencealert.com/a-new-type-of-artificial-photosynthesis-cleans-the-air-and-produces-energy#.WSmDe3F2xeg.link

Please read all of it .

Cheers Floss



(mod)
How is this on topic? Just advocating that we read it doesn't cut it. YOU need to edit your post (not reply) to provide the tie in that explains clearly why  artificial photosynthesis is indeed on topic for an asteroid mining thread. Thanks.
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"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Stan-1967

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #66 on: 05/27/2017 02:14 PM »
6.  Precision crash land it somewhere in the arctic ocean, where ocean depth is around 1000m, but basically within the capability for robotic retrieval equipment.

Why an ocean impact?
When the projectile lands, there is still around 90% of the kinetic energy left, if it lands in water, that energy is primarily transferred to the liquid, if it impacts land, more energy transfer will go into the projectile, which will vaporize a significant portion of it.  The rest will melt & scatter.   So basically it preserves the valuable material better.

ChrisWilson68 is right that I glossed over the most difficult task, which would be to refine enough asteroid ore to get a purified slug of Pt massing hundreds of tons.  That is the challenge those who want to mine asteroids will face.   I think it only works out if you can refine the asteroid material in space, transporting low grade material to earth will be pointless.  My response was targeted at just the problem of getting material to earths surface.

Offline savuporo

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Offline Paul451

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #68 on: 05/28/2017 03:10 AM »
6.  Precision crash land it somewhere in the arctic ocean, where ocean depth is around 1000m, but basically within the capability for robotic retrieval equipment.
Why an ocean impact?
When the projectile lands, there is still around 90% of the kinetic energy left,

How do you come to that conclusion? That re-entry only reduces velocity by 6 percent?

Offline Stan-1967

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #69 on: 05/28/2017 05:25 AM »
6.  Precision crash land it somewhere in the arctic ocean, where ocean depth is around 1000m, but basically within the capability for robotic retrieval equipment.
Why an ocean impact?
When the projectile lands, there is still around 90% of the kinetic energy left,

How do you come to that conclusion? That re-entry only reduces velocity by 6 percent?

Actually my 90% remaining kinetic energy was based on using the model I linked to, however I erred in recalling figures for a larger impactor.  For the 4.46m diameter projectile, the model says the KE is dropped to 70% just prior to impact.  ( started with 1.96E14 Joules, & lost 5.95E13 joules in the atmosphere)
http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEffects/

Remember:  kinetic energy scales to the square of velocity, so a 6% drop in velocity does not equal a 6% drop in KE.

Again, the point of this was to show if you can guide your returning slug of refined asteroid metal, you don't need a fancy entry scheme.  Let it crash & recover it.  The bigger problem is refining it in-situ.

But suppose you are with Goldman Sachs, & you set out a business plan to capture 80-90% of global platinum demand.  You can meet this with one such event ( 4.5 meter sphere of Pt ) about once a decade.   How many cycles of mine/refine/return to earth do you need to undertake to get a decent ROI? 
« Last Edit: 05/28/2017 05:43 AM by Stan-1967 »

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #70 on: 05/28/2017 07:30 AM »
I would suggest that by the time it is economical to refine platinum from asteroids we'll have large scale, reusable craft flying frequently between the Earth's surface and space.  Think ITS flying weekly, at least.  At that point, returning the platinum to the surface of the Earth is a non-issue -- we'll just carry it down on the ITS-scale ships that are flying regularly anyway.  That will be cheaper than building some kind of heat shield around a giant slug of platinum then dredging it up from the bottom of a lake.

Offline Stan-1967

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #71 on: 05/28/2017 02:32 PM »
I would suggest that by the time it is economical to refine platinum from asteroids we'll have large scale, reusable craft flying frequently between the Earth's surface and space.  Think ITS flying weekly, at least.  At that point, returning the platinum to the surface of the Earth is a non-issue -- we'll just carry it down on the ITS-scale ships that are flying regularly anyway.  That will be cheaper than building some kind of heat shield around a giant slug of platinum then dredging it up from the bottom of a lake.

Are you suggesting that ITS scale ships will match the orbit of asteroid ore shipments, or all ore shipments will be have to be placed into an earth orbit for pickup by a ITS ship?  Sounds expensive in DV and propulsion hardware cycles.  There's a lot of hand waving in that scenario.

It's also dismissive & unfounded to automatically assign high technical hurdles to something unknown.   The "heat shield" could end up being incredibly simple if made of sacrificial nickel:iron.   Assuming high complexity reminds me of when SpaceX signaled their intention to land rockets downrange at sea.  Speculators were suggesting Musk should buy the SeaLaunch platform, or procure a decommissioned aircraft carrier, & other complicated bunk.  What happened?  He bought a cheap barge and welded some plate steel to the deck.
« Last Edit: 05/28/2017 05:48 PM by Stan-1967 »

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #72 on: 05/28/2017 10:29 PM »
I would suggest that by the time it is economical to refine platinum from asteroids we'll have large scale, reusable craft flying frequently between the Earth's surface and space.  Think ITS flying weekly, at least.  At that point, returning the platinum to the surface of the Earth is a non-issue -- we'll just carry it down on the ITS-scale ships that are flying regularly anyway.  That will be cheaper than building some kind of heat shield around a giant slug of platinum then dredging it up from the bottom of a lake.

Are you suggesting that ITS scale ships will match the orbit of asteroid ore shipments, or all ore shipments will be have to be placed into an earth orbit for pickup by a ITS ship?

No and no.

First of all, you're saying "ore" here, but the proposal I'm responding to is to refine the ore into a pure platinum and send it to Earth with a disposable heat shield made of asteroid material.

So, there has to be a serious ore processing plant creating the platinum.  That ore processing plant will need lots of people to work at it, and lots of chemicals shipped in.  In other words, a lot of logistics.  Those logistics will by by ITS-scale ships.  So, no orbit matching or anything like that.  The pure platinum is produced in the same place that has lots of ITS-scale ships going back and forth to it.  Simply carry the platinum there.

Sounds expensive in DV and propulsion hardware cycles.  There's a lot of hand waving in that scenario.

It's also dismissive & unfounded to automatically assign high technical hurdles to something unknown.

I have a different opinion than you.  There's no need to start accusing me of hand waving and being dismissive.  I don't believe there's justification for saying I'm automatically assigning a high technical hurdle.  Everything is unknown here to a greater or lesser degree.  We're all speculating.  Obviously, each of us believes our opinions are the better founded.  If we just start accusing each other of hand waving, where does that get us?

The "heat shield" could end up being incredibly simple if made of sacrificial nickel:iron.

And how do you get it to Earth?  You need some sort of propulsion.  And you also need some good guidance to make sure it hits at the right angle and goes come down in the middle of Paris, etc.

Assuming high complexity

I'm not assuming anything.  I'm offering speculation, just like you and everyone else on this thread.  It's irritating to have someone label speculation they disagree with as "assuming" while in the same message that person does plenty of speculation of his own.

reminds me of when SpaceX signaled their intention to land rockets downrange at sea.  Speculators were suggesting Musk should buy the SeaLaunch platform, or procure a decommissioned aircraft carrier, & other complicated bunk.  What happened?  He bought a cheap barge and welded some plate steel to the deck.

You think yours is the simpler, more obvious solution, and I think mine is the simpler, more obvious solution.  Trying to tie yours in to Musk does nothing to prove your point.

Offline Stan-1967

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #73 on: 05/29/2017 03:43 PM »
My post in response to the thread topic was directed at just one part of the problem of asteroid mining, that being the return of the metal product to the market paying for it.

I invoked technology in the near same class as the asteroid redirect mission, i.e a SEP powered space tug capable of precisely hauling a 1000 tons of material to the vicinity of Earth/moon lagrange points.  ( a pretty specific & precise target)    That does not invoke Musk, it is agnostic to Musk & anyone else.  It is also the technology invoked in Post #1 of this thread in the report from Goldman Sachs.

Waiting to mine asteroids until Musk/Bezos/ULA or whomever have fleets of ITS like ships crossing the inner solar system is invoking Musk & others, & it sets a "gate" as to the level of technology that needs to be in place to start mining asteroids.  You have projected a good part of your assumptions onto mine.

You may actually be right on this issue, neither of us knows for sure how it will play out, if it ever does.  That's fine with me.  Like you, I come here to read, digest, & consider opinions of other people, including you. (ChrisWilson68)
 
So let me finish this post with my assumptions, as I try to examine them:
1.  Goldman Sachs would not be commenting on Asteroid wealth if they did not have their greedy little hearts & minds churning on how to make some money.  I'm good with that!

2.  Goldman Sachs, or other VC groups will try to make asteroid mining happen when they believe technology enables it, & they can get a good return on the investment risk.

3.  The decision to mine asteroids will be agnostic to which technologies are used.   However, like any economic enterprise, it will naturally pick the lowest cost technology to accomplish the task and maximize the return.

Number 2 & 3 open up a plethora of topics &  avenues of discussion.  We both probably agree that how valuable metal is returned to earth is the smallest of the problems.  I'm more interested in how to extract & concentrate the metal, as well as ideas how to capture market share without crashing global prices.

Offline empyrical

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #74 on: 07/10/2017 10:51 PM »
I don't suppose anyone knows if this report is available anywhere? I'd love to read it!

Offline savuporo

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #75 on: 07/11/2017 12:12 AM »
...  I'm more interested in how to extract & concentrate the metal, as well as ideas how to capture market share without crashing global prices.

The global annual supply of PGMs is worth around ~$12 billion at current prices, for roughly 500 tons of refined material ( palladium + platinum being around 45% + 45% of it ).

Nearly 70% of the total supply goes to automotive catalysts, with jewelry grabbing a second good slice.

If you don't want to crash the prices fast, the order of magnitude of operations cannot be very much larger than the current net demand is. 

Mining development and construction projects on earth take a good 5 years to field, and the investments are in billions, but not in tens of billions range.

I think there are two possible models of development: aim to supply maybe 10-20% of the annual market, effectively creating another significant supply region besides South Africa and Russia, with the corresponding price drop. Still serving existing markets. It's tough to come up with feasible numbers for developing such a venture and seeing returns on a reasonable timescale.

Or, aim to increase the supply by some insane amount, like 5x current actual demand, crash prices and expect new demand and applications to emerge. They would have to be new, as there is simply no way jewelry and diesel engine catalysts will soak up that much even at drastically lower material prices.
Unless such a new application is identified/mapped out, nobody will invest in this venture due to massive capital investment at insanely high risk.

Which i think basically comes back to - should space PGMs mining ever be developed, it won't be purely market driven, it'll need significant upfront public investment for R&D and risk reduction of related technologies. Most likely this investment can come from countries that are either resource scarce or see it as strategic value. China, maybe.
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Offline RonM

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #76 on: 07/11/2017 02:39 AM »
The global annual supply of PGMs is worth around ~$12 billion at current prices, for roughly 500 tons of refined material ( palladium + platinum being around 45% + 45% of it ).

Nearly 70% of the total supply goes to automotive catalysts, with jewelry grabbing a second good slice.

The majority going to automotive catalysts is a potential problem for asteroid mining profitability. By the time asteroid mining is operational, most cars will be electric. With lower demand, the price will drop, making it harder to justify asteroid mining.

Offline Stan-1967

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #77 on: 07/11/2017 03:28 AM »
...  I'm more interested in how to extract & concentrate the metal, as well as ideas how to capture market share without crashing global prices.

edited & snipped...

I think there are two possible models of development: aim to supply maybe 10-20% of the annual market, effectively creating another significant supply region besides South Africa and Russia, with the corresponding price drop. Still serving existing markets. It's tough to come up with feasible numbers for developing such a venture and seeing returns on a reasonable timescale.

Or, aim to increase the supply by some insane amount, like 5x current actual demand, crash prices and expect new demand and applications to emerge. They would have to be new, as there is simply no way jewelry and diesel engine catalysts will soak up that much even at drastically lower material prices.
Unless such a new application is identified/mapped out, nobody will invest in this venture due to massive capital investment at insanely high risk.

Which i think basically comes back to - should space PGMs mining ever be developed, it won't be purely market driven, it'll need significant upfront public investment for R&D and risk reduction of related technologies. Most likely this investment can come from countries that are either resource scarce or see it as strategic value. China, maybe.

I have been thinking it may be possible to drive the market for asteroid supplied PGM's through legislative means.

Treat the matter as we currently treat blood diamonds, or conflict minerals ( gold, tin, titanium, tungsten).  Ammend the Frank-Dodd legislation to set deadlines for industries consuming PGM's to certify the supply chain.  This can be approached with environmental justification, as well as potentially being a de-facto political sanction against states we are in conflict with ( hot or cold conflict, i.e Russia ) 

Offline LMT

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #78 on: 09/24/2017 02:46 AM »
Or for improved efficiency one might mine and separate the PGMs and gold, and then load them as incidental cargo, all upon the same celestial body; e.g., Mars.

Ideally you'd want something like Omaha Crater's domes and hydroelectric power on the ground, plus the Omaha Trail's Mars Lift, propellant and rail launch in orbit, so as to increase efficiency even further, well past the point of winner-take-all market dominance. 

A strategic rare-metal reserve would be a reasonable outcome.

Our press release, from a presentation given in conference last week at UNSW Sydney, OEMF2017:

Winner-take-all: a case for rare-metal mining on Mars with MATT

« Last Edit: 09/24/2017 02:48 AM by LMT »

Online TrevorMonty

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #79 on: 09/24/2017 09:44 AM »
PGM extraction would be by product of iron and other metals extraction. Its not worth mining on its own. In case of asteriods the iron be used for in space construction.

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #80 on: 09/24/2017 12:43 PM »
PGM extraction would be by product of iron and other metals extraction. Its not worth mining on its own. In case of asteriods the iron be used for in space construction.

On Mars as on asteroids, iron and nickel could be used for construction, yes.  Invar is one potentially useful ISRU alloy: size-invariant, cryogenic and corrosion-resistant. 

Iron, nickel, PGMs and gold would be obtained on Mars from the very same ore that you've been talking about previously, just in context of free-flying asteroids.  And the separation could be done more easily on Mars.

You were keen on extraction of PGMs and gold from asteroids or the Moon.  So why not Mars?

Quote from: TrevorMonty
For high value metals like gold and platinum, they could be returned to earth in reusable 2nd stage.  ... the metals can be delivered to LEO on water/fuel tanker as secondary payload. A 1t gold would take up very little space in 2nd stage but could add a few $M to mission profit for normally unprofitable return leg.
« Last Edit: 09/24/2017 01:52 PM by LMT »

Online TrevorMonty

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #81 on: 09/24/2017 06:39 PM »
PGM as means of supplementing colony income make sense,  but I doubt it will ever be profitable on its own. The upfront costs for 2way transport system, which requires ISRU fuel and large mining infrastucture would cost $10-100B. At around $50M tonne its going take 100s of tonnes to break even.

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #82 on: 09/24/2017 09:13 PM »
The upfront costs for 2way transport system, which requires ISRU fuel and large mining infrastucture would cost $10-100B.

Is that $100B with Omaha Trail, or $10B with Omaha Crater, or...?   

Each component of the Omaha system would improve efficiency, and lower cost.

What are your assumptions there?

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #83 on: 09/25/2017 02:36 AM »
Asteriod mining still has less up front costs compared to Mars and Moon especially as transport doesn't need rocket powered landers which require production of  LH/LOX. Thermally heated water by sunlight is enough, lower ISP but DV requirements are lower. Water can extracted from same asteriod as metal.

In case of moon if polar ISRU extraction of water is commercially viable then adding gold extraction is not as expensive as starting from scratch.

It all comes down to transport costs which ISRU water extraction should lower by factor or 2.

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #84 on: 09/25/2017 03:30 AM »
Asteriod mining still has less up front costs... Thermally heated water by sunlight is enough...

In the main belt, sunlight is only about 10% of Earth's flux, or ~140 W/m2.  So what scale of solar-powered infrastructure would you have to deploy there, to extract water in bulk, purify it, store it, heat it, and use it as propellant for Earth-return?  It would be infrastructure at a rather significant scale, I'd think.  And that's apart from the zero-g infrastructure required to extract and separate commercially valuable metals.

And remember, some up-front costs for Mars infrastructure are being borne by other organizations, for reasons and goals of their own.  We don't add those costs to the mining bill.

In case of moon... adding gold extraction is not as expensive as starting from scratch.

The lunar surface has fewer HSEs than Earth's, and the martian surface, more.  That's why the Moon is a poor prospect, and Mars, a good one.

"A colossal impact enriched Mars’ mantle with noble metals"

It all comes down to transport costs which ISRU water extraction should lower by factor or 2.

On carbonaceous volatile-rich bodies like Deimos, one can extract methalox propellant as well.  Are you familiar with Zubrin's work in that area?  We noted his Pioneer Astronautics' CAVoR research in the Omaha Trail joint presentation at ISEC 2017

« Last Edit: 09/25/2017 03:59 AM by LMT »

Offline QuantumG

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #85 on: 09/25/2017 04:52 AM »
In the main belt, sunlight is only about 10% of Earth's flux, or ~140 W/m2.  So what scale of solar-powered infrastructure would you have to deploy there, to extract water in bulk, purify it, store it, heat it, and use it as propellant for Earth-return?  It would be infrastructure at a rather significant scale, I'd think.

One would hope you could build that infrastructure out there from local materials, and then it'd be an exponential expansion of capability.
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #86 on: 09/25/2017 09:30 AM »
And the separation could be done more easily on Mars.

Care to elaborate?

Online TrevorMonty

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #87 on: 09/25/2017 10:19 AM »
The DSI and PR are targetting NEA not belt asteriods. NEA orbits intersect earth's on regular basis, every few months or years they comeback around at which time water or metal is returned to cislunar space.

As for lunar gold there is theory that gold dust has accumulated in polar craters, dust is carried by electrostatic charge until drops out at poles. If correct it could be profitable byproduct of lunar water extraction especially at $40M tonne. Transport costs from poles to EML1 should be lot less than $40M if water extraction is ever going to be viable.

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #88 on: 09/25/2017 11:53 AM »
And the separation could be done more easily on Mars.

Care to elaborate?

See the OEMF2017 presentation for an intro.

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #89 on: 09/25/2017 12:05 PM »
The DSI and PR are targetting NEA not belt asteriods.

I know.  If you limit asteroid prospects to NEAs, it's slim pickings.  There is no known NEA equivalent to 16 Psyche, for example.

As for lunar gold there is theory that gold dust has accumulated in polar craters, dust is carried by electrostatic charge until drops out at poles. If correct it could be profitable byproduct...

That idea (ref?) doesn't square with the lunar survey results to date.  No commercial HSEs are present near the lunar surface, apparently.

Offline Paul451

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #90 on: 09/25/2017 03:38 PM »
And the separation could be done more easily on Mars.
Care to elaborate?
See the OEMF2017 presentation for an intro.

Nothing you've linked to justifies your assertion.

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #91 on: 09/25/2017 04:17 PM »
And the separation could be done more easily on Mars.
Care to elaborate?
See the OEMF2017 presentation for an intro.

Nothing you've linked to justifies your assertion.

Sure it does.  Manned operation under planetary gravity makes aqueous separation chemistry far easier.  See esp. the ISS ECLSS history.  Relevant, yes?

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #92 on: 09/25/2017 05:27 PM »
In the main belt, sunlight is only about 10% of Earth's flux, or ~140 W/m2.  So what scale of solar-powered infrastructure would you have to deploy there, to extract water in bulk, purify it, store it, heat it, and use it as propellant for Earth-return?  It would be infrastructure at a rather significant scale, I'd think.

One would hope you could build that infrastructure out there from local materials, and then it'd be an exponential expansion of capability.

Well, in that case you'd need a solar-panel factory to build solar panels for the solar-powered water factory.

And to run the solar-panel factory, you'd need solar power.

At 140 W/m2, what's the scale of solar panels for that factory?  That is, the scale of panels etc. that must be shipped from Earth.

Here again it's infrastructure at a rather significant scale, I'd think.

« Last Edit: 09/25/2017 05:34 PM by LMT »

Online TrevorMonty

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #93 on: 09/25/2017 05:48 PM »
And the separation could be done more easily on Mars.
Care to elaborate?
See the OEMF2017 presentation for an intro.

Nothing you've linked to justifies your assertion.

Sure it does.  Manned operation under planetary gravity makes aqueous separation chemistry far easier.  See esp. the ISS ECLSS history.  Relevant, yes?
Here link to Warrens lunar gold theory thread. Needs rover with right sensors to prove it one way or another.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=31377.0


Online TrevorMonty

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #94 on: 09/25/2017 06:07 PM »


The DSI and PR are targetting NEA not belt asteriods.

I know.  If you limit asteroid prospects to NEAs, it's slim pickings.  There is no known NEA equivalent to 16 Psyche, for example.

With over million NEAs, there is no need to go asteriod belt.

Extracting and processing metal from regolith is easier than from likes of Psyche.   Most ore processing starts by crush material then sorting, with regolith asteriods have done it for us.

Water extraction from same asteriod as metal is just as important. Without water there is no propulsion to return metal to market place.

Offline LMT

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #95 on: 09/25/2017 06:30 PM »
Quote from: TrevorMonty
Here link to Warrens lunar gold theory thread. Needs rover with right sensors to prove it one way or another.

Thanks, but his hypothesis really is inconsistent with the results of the actual lunar survey, which would have detected any such concentration near the surface.  No rover required; not for that.

The linked report is a fairly comprehensive overview from 2014.

Quote
"it is difficult to identify any single lunar resource that is likely to be sufficiently valuable to drive a lunar resource extraction industry which has near-term profit as an objective..."

Offline LMT

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Mining NEMO
« Reply #96 on: 09/25/2017 07:59 PM »


The DSI and PR are targetting NEA not belt asteriods.

I know.  If you limit asteroid prospects to NEAs, it's slim pickings.  There is no known NEA equivalent to 16 Psyche, for example.

With over million NEAs, there is no need to go asteriod belt.

Extracting and processing metal from regolith is easier than from likes of Psyche.   Most ore processing starts by crush material then sorting, with regolith asteriods have done it for us.

Water extraction from same asteriod as metal is just as important. Without water there is no propulsion to return metal to market place.

It would be nice to find an NEA with commercial ore.  Preferably one big enough to justify the trouble.

Meanwhile, since a NEO has perihelion within 1.3 AU, and Mars perihelion is 1.38 AU, I suggest we designate Mars as a "Near-Earth Mostly Object" (NEMO).

If we apply this "NEMO" designation to Mars, we can start thinking of Mars as a Near-Earther, and reset our space-mining expectations accordingly.

All in favor?   :P
« Last Edit: 09/25/2017 08:24 PM by Lar »

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #97 on: 09/25/2017 08:05 PM »

It would be nice to find an NEA with commercial ore.  Preferably one big enough to justify the trouble.

Meanwhile, since a NEO has perihelion within 1.3 AU, and Mars perihelion is 1.38 AU, I suggest we designate Mars as a "Near-Earth Mostly Object" (NEMO).

If we apply this "NEMO" designation to Mars, we can start thinking of Mars as a Near-Earther, and reset our space-mining expectations accordingly.

All in favor?   :P
(mod) Mars is not an asteroid. Please don't try to derail this thread.
(mod) The Moon is not an asteroid either. No more on lunar mining either, we have other threads for that.
« Last Edit: 09/25/2017 08:24 PM by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Paul451

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #98 on: 09/26/2017 08:44 AM »
And the separation could be done more easily on Mars.
Care to elaborate?
See the OEMF2017 presentation for an intro.
Nothing you've linked to justifies your assertion.
Sure it does.  Manned operation under planetary gravity makes aqueous separation chemistry far easier.

Any drum-centrifuge would do the same job.

However, as I said, the material you linked to didn't support your assertion, it simply made the same assertion. Additionally, while further discussion of lunar mining has been deemed verboten, I did note that the reference you linked to about that also didn't support your assertion that the moon lacks siderophilic elements, quite the contrary. And these are perfect examples of your tendency to link-dump material and simply state that it disproves the other party, without actually referencing the relevant sections or explaining how it supports your case (especially when it usually turns out that it doesn't.)

It's not the reader's job to dig through a 40 page article to try to find what you are referring to.

Offline LMT

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #99 on: 09/26/2017 12:25 PM »
Quote from: LMT
Manned operation under planetary gravity makes aqueous separation chemistry far easier.  See esp. the ISS ECLSS history.  Relevant, yes?

Quote from: Paul451
Any drum-centrifuge would do the same job.

It was the centrifuge that failed.

Again, relevant, yes?

Offline Lar

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #100 on: 09/26/2017 01:16 PM »
Again, relevant, yes?
Very marginally relevant, yes.

And Paul451 has a point. Dumping giant articles on people and saying "that refutes you" isn't helpful. You have an agenda, everyone knows it... it's right in your user ID. That's fine. But don't let your agenda color how you participate here. I could have PMed this but PMs don't do much good with certain classes of user.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
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Offline LMT

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #101 on: 09/26/2017 04:36 PM »
Again, relevant, yes?
Very marginally relevant, yes.

And Paul451 has a point. Dumping giant articles on people and saying "that refutes you" isn't helpful. You have an agenda, everyone knows it... it's right in your user ID. That's fine. But don't let your agenda color how you participate here. I could have PMed this but PMs don't do much good with certain classes of user.

Linking one's own short conference talk, with highlighted example, is a fair way to make an uncontroversial point.  Emphasis on uncontroversial.  One shouldn't belabor such things.


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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #102 on: 09/26/2017 04:57 PM »
No it isn't  Just extract the bit that makes the point, quote it, and then provide the link so people can follow up.

This is off topic. You should stop and let the mod have the last word because arguing isn't making you look good.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
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Online topsphere

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #103 on: 09/27/2017 08:32 PM »
I'm not sure in 6 pages of this thread whether the report in question has actually been posted. I've been sitting on it for a while but only just got round to reading. It's a relatively OK synthesis of trends and developments in the space industry (and good that Goldman are interested in space), although an in-depth business case of asteroid mining it is not.

See attachment below.

Cheers.

Offline savuporo

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Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #104 on: 10/26/2017 07:19 AM »
I've come across this before, but a nice infographic to keep around here too

http://www.businessinsider.com/periodic-table-of-endangered-elements-2015-8
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Goldman Sachs Report on Asteroid Mining
« Reply #105 on: 10/27/2017 12:16 AM »
Interesting that they are predicting a severe silver shortage...
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