Author Topic: Deep Space "mine"?  (Read 29368 times)

Online sanman

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #40 on: 01/22/2013 11:05 PM »

Yes, except for a couple of things:

-Musk had a lot of money, and he was putting a lot of that personal money into his company

-Musk had a previous track record of building a highly successful company

-he actually had a pretty clearly stated goal, which was to lower the costs of launching things into orbit, not inventing an entirely new market

(okay, that's three things)

I was pretty skeptical (I still am, I'm just wired that way), but it is different than what we are seeing here.

Well, it was a dotcom web company, and not a real nuts-and-bolts engineering company that was his previous venture. Certainly, he hadn't had any previous experience in space technology.

Musk had his own money, but you don't need to use your own money to build a successful company nowadays. That's not a showstopper anymore.

I do think he has strong business sense and instincts, however.

Don't you think that some of Musk/SpaceX's success has been in being in the right place at the right time? What if Shuttle was due to be retired in 15 years rather than right now? What if there was a robust successor to Shuttle already in place, like X-33 or whatever? Would NASA really be extending all this help thru COTS and CRS? So I think SpaceX has benefited from some luck, here. And Bigelow may be a follow-on beneficiary, since success with SpaceX may have emboldened NASA to go further with this BEAM thing.

Musk certainly didn't start out talking about "retiring on Mars", etc. So if he had that dream from the start, he certainly wisely kept it under his hat.

DSI seems to be talking big from the start, because they want to attract investors and opportunities. I guess that's a different strategy from Musk to be talking up the long view from the start. But I too wonder what their near-term market offering can be. After all, building comsats in space seems a lot more difficult than building them on Earth and then launching them into space. I think you'd need a major power source to do something significant (Nuclear/LargeSolar)

I'm thinking that it's best to first build fabs on the Moon before space, because at least there's lots of material readily available on the Moon, so that you don't have to go rocket-hopping around to find some. But DSI's patent is specifically for space-based fabbing in microgravity, so maybe they are coming into the game too early.

Offline DougSpace

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #41 on: 01/23/2013 04:05 AM »
What are its most limiting constraints likely to be? Energy? Material? Build volume?

From looking at the picture, I'd say that the build volume appears to be the known universe. :p

Online sanman

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #42 on: 01/23/2013 04:15 AM »
Since nobody's posted their sales video yet, let me do the honors  :P





I still think they need a Deathstar construction video, to attract some military funding  ;)

Offline catdlr

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #43 on: 01/23/2013 04:39 AM »
Question and Answers:

Deep Space Industries Sets Sights On Asteroids | Video

Published on Jan 22, 2013
CEO David Gump talks about how his new company intends to prospect, retrieve and process asteroids into products for the commercial market on Earth and beyond.

« Last Edit: 01/23/2013 04:40 AM by catdlr »
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Offline catdlr

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #44 on: 01/23/2013 04:41 AM »
Deep Space Industries Live Announcement

Streamed live on Jan 22, 2013

The world's first fleet of commercial asteroid-prospecting spacecraft will be announced at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, at the Santa Monica Museum of Flying by a new company, Deep Space Industries Inc. Host Geoff Notkin of the Science Channel's Meteorite Men series will introduce the Deep Space founders - who include leaders in the space field - and will preview an animated video showing the new spacecraft and the company's other plans, including a breakthrough process for manufacturing in space. Deep Space is pursuing an aggressive schedule and plans on prospecting, harvesting and processing asteroids for use in space and to benefit Earth.

« Last Edit: 01/23/2013 04:41 AM by catdlr »
Tony De La Rosa

Offline Danderman

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #45 on: 01/23/2013 04:43 AM »

So far MirCorp has mostly benefited from the fact that they have written their own history. In their version of their history, they only failed because NASA (meaning Dan Goldin) blocked them and played dirty. However, they were always trying to do something that was going to be very difficult for many different reasons: It had never been done before, working with the Russians was not traditional, there was the issue of ITAR, and they were setting themselves up to directly compete with NASA.

Something MirCorp veterans tend to be reluctant to admit as well is that, IIRC, a lot of their start-up funding was tied up in tech stocks- they took a massive hit when the dotcom bubble burst, which contributed to their demise.

That was no secret, I think it was in the movie "Orphans of Apollo".

I should disclose that I was closely tied to the Mir venture until the point where the project changed focus from putting Mir into a high storage orbit (running dormant) to operating Mir in the short term as a business venture. My personal opinion was that Mir might have a future  down the road as a destination for tourists, if one of the space transportation companies had a breakthrough. But I didn't see the business case for running Mir off a couple of tourists a year riding on Soyuz.


« Last Edit: 01/23/2013 04:48 AM by Danderman »

Offline manboy

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #46 on: 01/23/2013 06:31 AM »
Since nobody's posted their sales video yet, let me do the honors  :P





I still think they need a Deathstar construction video, to attract some military funding  ;)
That's a lot of stock footage, although I did like the O'Neil Cylinder at the end.
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Offline xanmarus

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #47 on: 01/23/2013 06:54 AM »
U-type asteroid with 0% of unobtainium. Thats funny.

Online Lar

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #48 on: 01/23/2013 11:35 AM »
A positive article/blog in Slate

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/01/22/deep_space_industries_vs_planetary_resources_is_outer_space_asteroid_mining.html

The asteroid idea itself is, in my view, gaining traction, even if PR and DS can't necessarily pull it off.
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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

Online sanman

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #49 on: 01/23/2013 12:23 PM »
Note that @ 1:23 they show the Bigelow hab attached to ISS. Talk about last-minute videography!

Meanwhile, their "Microgravity Foundry" may be based on nickel carbonyl gas, which would be built up additively onto a solid object by thermal decomposition of the nickel carbonyl into nickel using the lasers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel_tetracarbonyl

Apparently, it's the most toxic industrial reagent ever, so I'm not sure whether you'd want to live in a space station made from this process, much less be the technician handling the fabbing equipment for it.
« Last Edit: 01/23/2013 12:30 PM by sanman »

Offline Port

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #50 on: 01/23/2013 12:28 PM »

Meanwhile, their "Microgravity Foundry" may be based on nickel carbonyl gas, which would be built up additively onto a solid object by thermal decomposition of the nickel carbonyl into nickel using the lasers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel_tetracarbonyl

Apparently, it's the most toxic industrial reagent ever, so I'm not sure whether you'd want to live in a space station made from this process, much less be the technician handling the equipment for it.
give the part some fresh air (aka vacuum of space) maybe even with some heating and you are completely free of it, its boilingpoint is incredible low (43°C) (thats in fact one of the hazardous props for handling it). As far as i know, the Mond Process (which involes carbonylation of Nickel) is still used for purifying Nickel today

Online Mongo62

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #51 on: 01/23/2013 01:33 PM »
The asteroid idea itself is, in my view, gaining traction, even if PR and DS can't necessarily pull it off.

There are a huge number of asteroids that are fairly easily reachable from Earth orbit.  I fully expect that by the time asteroid resource extraction is under way, there will be dozens of asteroid mining start-ups in various stages of operation.

Who will be the big winners?  Impossible to say yet, especially since I am sure that a number of the eventual asteroid mining giants are still being kept under wraps right now.  Of the two that have been publicly announced so far, I like Planetary Resource's chances better, simply because of their superior financial position, but Deep Space Industry's deep space manufacturing plans are certainly interesting.

I cannot help but recall that in the Yukon Gold Rush, many of the resulting millionaires made their money from selling the actual prospectors their supplies.  The same might hold true with asteroid mining.  One obvious option would be to stick to asteroid surveying, sending Firefly-like spacecraft to many asteroids, and selling the data on each asteroid to the actual resource extraction businesses (or other potential customers such as NASA).  As an industry matures, this pattern of increasing specialization is often seen, and I would not be surprised to see the same thing happen here.
« Last Edit: 01/23/2013 01:33 PM by Mongo62 »

Online sanman

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #52 on: 01/23/2013 01:40 PM »
So their entire business case is based on in-space use of any harvested materials, and not about bringing materials back to Earth.

http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/01/23/deep-space-industries-the-company-that-wants-to-mine-space/

It would seem to me that their best bet is in doing the prospecting first, because you're better off planning around what you actually know is available out there, because you've actually found it. Otherwise, you're Building Castles in the Sky.

Can anybody speculate on what the best materials are to find out there?
What is the simplest case for use of some bulk material that's been harvested out in space?

Propellant perhaps? In which case - what type of propellant do you want, and in what form?
« Last Edit: 01/23/2013 02:22 PM by Chris Bergin »

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #53 on: 01/23/2013 02:26 PM »
DSI was mentioned on NPR this morning.  The announcer mentioned that a scientist named Mel Brooks may have been involved with naming the company.  Somebody find the transcript.

Quote from: Lar
Is there room, at this stage, for several outfits?

I'd say that yes, there is room for several outfits making cubesats.  The profit margin on these things must be pretty high.  Everybody has an intuition on how little it actually costs to make an IpHone, and how much they can sell them for.

Personal example: As a kid, I made a telephone.  It was basically a  two microphones and two speakers.  You could run four wires from the upstairs bedroom to the basement rec room and talk.*  Our parents made us take it down at the end of the weekend.  Point is, I coulda been Steve Jobs, had I kept at it.

The larger point being that you figure out how to make something that nobody else really can make, and you can charge what you like.  So it might be, I'm thinking, with cubesats.

Which gets back to the "room for several outfits" question.  If you can make a cubesat which can spot a PGM asteroid from LEO,  I'm thinking there's a market for you.

From the DSI briefing article:

"Stephen Covey, Member -- Board of Directors
Created the Microgravity Foundry"

To me, microgravity means something different from zero gravity.  Therefore their foundry sounds like it can only work if it spins, or else if it is attached to a certain minimum sized asteroid, which would be along the lines of their illustration.  The foundry is set up to refine nickle only.

Quote from: DSI briefing article
Mark Sonter -- Number of NEOs has greatly increased since he first started studying them.

Probably the number of NEO's is approximately the same as it has been for the last fifty years.  The number of known NEO's has certainly increased.  They can certainly chose to believe sloppy grammar, here in this statement, and elsewhere in their documentation.

Quote from: DSI
Cheaper to use space based materials than launching from earth.

Unbased assertion, as everybody knows.  Hypothetical truths from the distant future do not seem to be good business plans.

Quote from: DSI
Metallurgical processes for extraction not especially demanding.

TRL-9 on Earth is not automatically TRL-9 in microgravity.

Quote from: DSI
Virtually recovered mass will have some value.

Don't sweat the grammar.

Quote from: DSI
Describes the Fireflies spacecraft for prospecting and Dragonflies for retrieving samples.

Time flies like the wind, and fruit flies like bananas.  I've also seen a shoo-fly, and a house fly.

Quote from: DSI
Sell prospecting data and technology to govt space programs.

Which could work.  Leave out all reference to the fantasy.  The metallic content of those asteroids is the proprietary info.  Do not expect any peer based science about formation and so forth.

Quote from: DSI
Dragonfly - not showing real design to not give proprietary info to competitors.

Why not? I've given away a good number of details about my PMP system.

Quote from: DSI
Strategic plan does not involve in magic technology.

No grammatical scientist would use the term magic.  Unless there's an AIAA paper I missed?

Quote from: DSI
Fundamental tools available ...

TRL argument again.

Quote from: DSI
Using up an asteroid threat will remove it as a threat.

If even one precious child is killed by an asteroid, it would be too much.  We must act now to save that child.  It's only a matter of time.

Quote from: Danderman
It would be interesting to learn of the communications architecture this company is planning to develop.

They appear to propose using lasers to communicate with the same optics which are used to spot asteroids.

Quote from: Slate
Why Everyone Is Suddenly Rushing to Mine Asteroids in Outer Space ... There’s gold in them thar asteroids, and Deep Space Industries wants to be in on the rush.

Believe it.... or not.

Again, it is the knowledge of which asteroid to get, which is where the first profit will be made.  Perhaps the fantasy artwork and wild claims are intended to take advantage of those investors who would place great faith in the artwork and claims.  These investors seek the "fruit" of promised gold, and "fly" towards those who offer a good sales pitch, along with a good "banana".

I've attached an illustration showing one of their sats approaching an asteroid.  It has four antenna, reminiscent of very earlier sats, and implies radio communications, not laser com at that distance.  This one has thrusters illustrated, and the circular opening of the optics.  I'm a bit disoriented about the Milky Way, shown in the background.  The sat is not looking at either the asteroid or Earth?  Heh, heh.  Hard to say what direction it's thrusting in, but still, that sat does not appear to be "flyable", in the sense that it could look at more than one asteroid at a time, at that distance.  And what's the second one doing? 

Ok, fine. They get to make an illustration.

*********************************

* I also experimented with mag lev launchers back at the same time.  My lab wasn't as good as this guy's lab, which is why I didn't get the spectacular results:

Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #54 on: 01/23/2013 02:30 PM »
So their entire business case is based on in-space use of any harvested materials, and not about bringing materials back to Earth.

http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/01/23/deep-space-industries-the-company-that-wants-to-mine-space/

It would seem to me that their best bet is in doing the prospecting first, because you're better off planning around what you actually know is available out there, because you've actually found it. Otherwise, you're Building Castles in the Sky.

Can anybody speculate on what the best materials are to find out there?
What is the simplest case for use of some bulk material that's been harvested out in space?

Propellant perhaps? In which case - what type of propellant do you want, and in what form?
You know, there are these things called meteorites. They are little asteroids that have fallen from the sky. People study them all the time, people collect them. It's not like nobody knows what they're made of!
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Online Mongo62

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #55 on: 01/23/2013 02:39 PM »
To me, microgravity means something different from zero gravity.  Therefore their foundry sounds like it can only work if it spins, or else if it is attached to a certain minimum sized asteroid, which would be along the lines of their illustration.  The foundry is set up to refine nickle only.

True zero gravity (meaning zero gravitational effects) cannot be found in the solar system, there are always tidal forces present.  "Microgravity" is a standard term used to denote gravitational effects that are so low that the object is effectively in zero gee -- if you look at the object, it appears to be floating.
« Last Edit: 01/23/2013 02:40 PM by Mongo62 »

Offline Danderman

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #56 on: 01/23/2013 02:43 PM »
You know, there are these things called meteorites. They are little asteroids that have fallen from the sky. People study them all the time, people collect them. It's not like nobody knows what they're made of!

Problem is that they don't make it to the ground with the volatiles intact. I was talking with a guy who has worked asteroid issues at NASA just last week and he mentioned that every single asteroid they visit is different, which is great from a scientific standpoint, but not necessarily from a resources standpoint.

As I understand it, it is not easy to point a telescope at an asteroid and figure out what it is made of. I'm not sure if remote sensing from only a short distance away even works all that well. You may have to go up and sample the rock in order to figure out what it contains. Now what if you only find useful material after you sample multiple rocks? It's not easy to get form one to another, and the few asteroid science mission proposals that I am familiar with were only capable of visiting 2-3 asteroids. In other words, how many dry holes do you drill before striking oil? And can your business model sustain that?

The problem here is if you sample a NEO and find that it is indeed interesting, when does the NEO return so that you can send a follow-up mission? What about when you want to send the heavy spacecraft for mining? Are there really any accessible NEOs in frequently repeating orbits that contain useful materials?

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #57 on: 01/23/2013 02:51 PM »
You know, there are these things called meteorites. They are little asteroids that have fallen from the sky. People study them all the time, people collect them. It's not like nobody knows what they're made of!

Problem is that they don't make it to the ground with the volatiles intact. I was talking with a guy who has worked asteroid issues at NASA just last week and he mentioned that every single asteroid they visit is different, which is great from a scientific standpoint, but not necessarily from a resources standpoint.

As I understand it, it is not easy to point a telescope at an asteroid and figure out what it is made of. I'm not sure if remote sensing from only a short distance away even works all that well. You may have to go up and sample the rock in order to figure out what it contains. Now what if you only find useful material after you sample multiple rocks? It's not easy to get form one to another, and the few asteroid science mission proposals that I am familiar with were only capable of visiting 2-3 asteroids. In other words, how many dry holes do you drill before striking oil? And can your business model sustain that?

The problem here is if you sample a NEO and find that it is indeed interesting, when does the NEO return so that you can send a follow-up mission? What about when you want to send the heavy spacecraft for mining? Are there really any accessible NEOs in frequently repeating orbits that contain useful materials?

A probe would have higher delta-v capabilities than something which is lugging a sample around. You could send a probe (using ion propulsion) to a NEO even during a non-favorable window.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #58 on: 01/23/2013 04:03 PM »
You know, there are these things called meteorites. They are little asteroids that have fallen from the sky. People study them all the time, people collect them. It's not like nobody knows what they're made of!

Problem is that they don't make it to the ground with the volatiles intact. I was talking with a guy who has worked asteroid issues at NASA just last week and he mentioned that every single asteroid they visit is different, which is great from a scientific standpoint, but not necessarily from a resources standpoint.

As I understand it, it is not easy to point a telescope at an asteroid and figure out what it is made of. I'm not sure if remote sensing from only a short distance away even works all that well. You may have to go up and sample the rock in order to figure out what it contains. Now what if you only find useful material after you sample multiple rocks? It's not easy to get form one to another, and the few asteroid science mission proposals that I am familiar with were only capable of visiting 2-3 asteroids. In other words, how many dry holes do you drill before striking oil? And can your business model sustain that?
Dawn will be visiting at least 2 different very large asteroids (going deep into the gravity well of each) all the way out in the main belt and with very different inclinations. And Dawn is using ion thruster and solar array technology that is a good 15-20 years behind current state of the art. NEXT is a much, much better thruster than NSTAR. And yet, Dawn will still probably have enough juice to do flybys of other asteroids. If Dawn were just supposed to visit a handful of low-energy NEAs with close to the same inclination, it would likely have enough juice to visit far more of them (besides, being near 1AU would mean they would have far more power available and could thus operate at much greater Isp).

There's a proposal I read the other day about an unmanned mission concept of using a mothership (some spacecraft like Dawn) and a small lander (could be refueled by the mothership between missions, but wouldn't need much delta-v anyway) which could visit and in-situ analyze multiple near Earth objects. http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2011/pdf/1979.pdf

I don't see why such a spacecraft couldn't visit quite a few NEOs. Except, of course, it'd probably take decades, which I think is the real reason (and a very good reason) most realistic proposals for such a mission mode (like the ones you've read) only visit a handful of NEOs.

Better to make very small and cheap spacecrafts that can only visit one NEO (and perhaps bring back a sample) each (but can do so in parallel) than to make one big expensive program that can visit many multiple targets (but can only do so in series, taking far longer), though also capable of bringing back samples.

And good point about the volatiles not surviving reentry. But also, NEOs with volatiles may be much rarer than objects in the asteroid belt with volatiles (proportionally) because simply there's more sunshine to bake them off when you're at 1AU than in the depths of the asteroid belt (which is about at the frost line).
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Deep Space "mine"?
« Reply #59 on: 01/23/2013 04:08 PM »
If all this company (or Planetary Resources, for that matter) does is demonstrate how to inexpensively operate a cubesat or micro/nanosatellite in deep space using cheap infrastructure (good enough to rendezvous with an asteroid), they would have done a great service to humanity.

Has anyone operated a nanosat even at a distance comparable to the Moon's orbit?
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

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