Author Topic: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About  (Read 3506 times)

Offline su27k

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https://impakter.com/the-problems-with-space-mining-no-one-is-talking-about/

Quote
The level of wealth required to pursue an asteroid mining venture is concentrated in the hands of a very small number of people. Large disparities exist between those able to take advantage of the resources and those most at risk of harm by exploitation.

It also seems possible, if not likely, that the earliest successes in asteroid mining will be the only successes. Competition with established companies will be an additional barrier, and a monopoly or cartel may develop.

Daniel Pilchman, a legal philosopher, says asteroid mining is likely to increase inequality on Earth. He argues it will therefore be an unethical practice, unless it can be regulated to bring benefits to all. James Schwartz, also a philosopher, says mining asteroid resources is unlikely to “significantly improve the well-being of average human beings,” and by extension, would be unethical.

Online Metalskin

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #1 on: 09/13/2022 02:11 am »
I find the use of the term "risk of harm by exploitation" to be a bit of hyperbole when they can only point to the dust created from the Didymos impact test and are somehow extrapolating that it has a risk of harm.

I concede the point that individuals are more likely to start investigating asteroid mining, but until there are independent settlements outside of earth, countries will always find a way to tax the individuals. And then there are places like China that have a greater capacity (as a government) to think and act long term, who may give the "individuals" a run for their money in such endeavours.

In all honesty, seems like a thought exercise to justify papers/conferences/lectures, but imho not a lot of substance.
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Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #2 on: 09/13/2022 03:51 am »
What a load of garbage.  Not worth any more comment than that.

Offline Stan-1967

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #3 on: 09/13/2022 05:31 am »
In an ideal world, the author should more honestly refer to himself as "Planetary Astrologist", or at least not burnish his image with "Planetary Astronomer", which implies some fealty to the methods & practices of science.  The poor arguments, logical inanities, and overall self loathing & self flagellation in that article was antithetical to science, and was focused on appealing to groups and ideologies fiercely opposed to science. 

Offline laszlo

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #4 on: 09/13/2022 01:08 pm »
Don't forget to read the second half of the article:

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On the flip side of questions about whether it is ethical to mine asteroids is the question of whether it is ethical to leave a vast store of resources untouched. Resources that would be useful for things like green energy and large-scale agriculture.

Asteroid resources are unlikely to harbour life, meanwhile the only planetary body with known life in the Solar System, Earth, continues to be exploited. Weighing these ethical issues may become necessary in the face of climate change and ecosystem collapse. Planetary scientist Philip Metzger argues space mining will allow solutions to Earth’s increasing energy demands that are not currently feasible, such as beaming solar energy via microwave to Earth.

And Stan,  the "astrologist" has a PhD in Planetary Sciences, did his undergraduate work at MIT and is currently affiliated with the JHU APL. He's published 89 research works and has 2679 citations. That sounds more like a serious astronomer than an astrologist. If you disagree with what he's saying, try to make valid counter-arguments, instead of resorting to ad hominem attacks.

Offline mn

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #5 on: 09/13/2022 01:36 pm »
We should probably not harvest apples since there are many people who don't have access to apples.

Offline Cherokee43v6

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #6 on: 09/13/2022 01:54 pm »
The biggest problem with asteroid mining is that there is no economic justification for doing it.  Name a resource you can get from asteroids that is in significant demand that is NOT cheaper to acquire from terrestrial sources.

The demand for asteroid resources will only grow once there is in space demand for those resources.  Launching from a planetary gravity well strictly to gather iron, gold, platinum, etc to re-import to Earth is not economically viable.

On the other hand, if you build the structure of an orbital colony or even a manufacturing facility in space, then the demand for basic resources, such as water or carbon from asteroids to supply that facility begins to make economic sense.  And once the first ones are established, then the infrastructure ability to process space resources to build more is then in place.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #7 on: 09/14/2022 01:08 am »
https://impakter.com/the-problems-with-space-mining-no-one-is-talking-about/

Quote
The level of wealth required to pursue an asteroid mining venture is concentrated in the hands of a very small number of people. Large disparities exist between those able to take advantage of the resources and those most at risk of harm by exploitation.

It also seems possible, if not likely, that the earliest successes in asteroid mining will be the only successes. Competition with established companies will be an additional barrier, and a monopoly or cartel may develop.

Daniel Pilchman, a legal philosopher, says asteroid mining is likely to increase inequality on Earth. He argues it will therefore be an unethical practice, unless it can be regulated to bring benefits to all. James Schwartz, also a philosopher, says mining asteroid resources is unlikely to “significantly improve the well-being of average human beings,” and by extension, would be unethical.
pROBleMS wITH spaCE MiNiNg nO oNe Is TalKInG abOUT
*sigh*
Literally everyone in certain academic circles talks about this whenever space mining comes it. It's ALL they talk about.

These fellows take, as axiomatic, that "mining asteroid resources is unlikely to “significantly improve the well-being of average human beings,”"
...and then from there draw whatever ideological conclusion they want.

It's just circular thinking idiocy. I don't take seriously anyone who argues it.
« Last Edit: 09/14/2022 01:42 am by Robotbeat »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #8 on: 09/14/2022 01:17 am »
Reminds me of the anti-science mob (filled with intellectuals, fwiw) in H.G. Wells' Things to Come:

"How can we do that when your science and inventions are perpetually changing life for us? When you're everlastingly contriving strange things? When you make what we think great, seem small? When you make what we think strong, seem feeble? We don't want you in the same world with us. We don't want this expedition! We don't want Mankind to go out to the moon and to the planets. We shall hate you more if you succeed than if you fail!"

If one person does well, that is bad. (Not to mention that additional resources will generally end up helping everyone overall, even before taxes.) Like the (probably apocryphal) story of crabs in a bucket:
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A crab placed alone in a bucket will easily climb out and escape, but when you place it with a few of its mates, this interesting phenomenon occurs: One at a time, as the crabs try to escape, other crabs will pull them back down to their misery and the group's collective demise

The irony is that the regulations these people want will most likely prevent the poorer nations from venturing to space as they won't be able to just buy a ticket or spacecraft from SpaceX, Relativity, or whoever, but will be expected to invent one themselves. Regulations are often what *create* the barriers to entry.
« Last Edit: 09/14/2022 01:23 am by Robotbeat »
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: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #9 on: 09/14/2022 01:26 am »
The biggest problem with asteroid mining is that there is no economic justification for doing it.  Name a resource you can get from asteroids that is in significant demand that is NOT cheaper to acquire from terrestrial sources.
...
BY FAR a better critique of space mining than anything in this article.
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

Online Asteroza

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #10 on: 09/14/2022 03:01 am »
The biggest problem with asteroid mining is that there is no economic justification for doing it.  Name a resource you can get from asteroids that is in significant demand that is NOT cheaper to acquire from terrestrial sources.
...
BY FAR a better critique of space mining than anything in this article.

Isn't the stereotypical response something something platinum group metals (but not platinum)?

Offline sdsds

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #11 on: 09/14/2022 03:28 am »
Economical transportability to a specific destination isn't needed for something to be of value. Assets can have intrinsic value in situ. Certainly transport can add value. But it isn't even required for trade.

An Earth-bound example: Mister Gold owns an asset in a Swiss bank vault. Mister Silver owns an asset in a vault in Dallas, Texas. They can trade ownership without either asset being physically moved.

So too if Mister Aster has an asset in a vault orbiting 16 Psyche and Mister Terra has a dollar-denominated asset in a U.S. bank. Asking Mister Terra why he wants to own metal stored in Psyche orbit is a bit like asking Mr Gold why he wants to own metal stored in Switzerland.
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Economical transportability to a specific destination isn't needed for something to be of value. Assets can have intrinsic value in situ. Certainly transport can add value. But it isn't even required for trade.

An Earth-bound example: Mister Gold owns an asset in a Swiss bank vault. Mister Silver owns an asset in a vault in Dallas, Texas. They can trade ownership without either asset being physically moved.

So too if Mister Aster has an asset in a vault orbiting 16 Psyche and Mister Terra has a dollar-denominated asset in a U.S. bank. Asking Mister Terra why he wants to own metal stored in Psyche orbit is a bit like asking Mr Gold why he wants to own metal stored in Switzerland.

Interesting comparison, but I think it illustrates the opposite of what you're going for. The ability to trade assets without moving them around Earth presumes that the cost of moving such assets is minute compared to the value of the asset. Given the (current) absurdity of a bank vault on Psyche, I might as well sell you land rights to the planet around Proxima Centauri.

Actually, aren't there already companies selling land on the moon? The deeds from which people take with an appropriately sized grain of regolith. I'm not sure what the legal terminology is, but I assume most property law has something along the lines of "reasonable capacity to liquidate assets".


Offline Vultur

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #13 on: 09/14/2022 10:14 pm »
If space mining is not economically practical, it won't be done.

If it becomes economically practical, it seems that it almost by definition must improve human well-being by increasing the amount of resources available.

The economy is interconnected. Just because people in country X don't have direct access to space doesn't mean that increasing the total pool of resources available won't lower costs for them too.

Offline Phil Stooke

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #14 on: 09/14/2022 10:44 pm »
Very peculiar that the article doesn't mention the damage that resource extraction does on Earth.  Here we are, busily poisoning ourselves and the whole biosphere through resource extraction when there are (potentially) resources to be had from places without biospheres to pollute.  How is it not ethical to explore opportunities to fulfill our need for resources from those sources?  I am personally doubtful it will happen but it can't be called unethical to try it.   

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #15 on: 09/15/2022 01:35 am »
The biggest problem with asteroid mining is that there is no economic justification for doing it.  Name a resource you can get from asteroids that is in significant demand that is NOT cheaper to acquire from terrestrial sources.
...
BY FAR a better critique of space mining than anything in this article.

Isn't the stereotypical response something something platinum group metals (but not platinum)?
I mean, yes, that might be theoretically feasible.

...however, platinum group metals mining is only like $25 billion per year (and that's somewhat inflated at the moment). Compare that to global telecommunications (broadband internet and mobile phones) which is like $2 trillion per year.

Platinum group metals are small potatoes in terms of "total addressable market" compared to telecommunications.
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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 laszlo

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #16 on: 09/15/2022 10:57 am »
Very peculiar that the article doesn't mention the damage that resource extraction does on Earth.  Here we are, busily poisoning ourselves and the whole biosphere through resource extraction when there are (potentially) resources to be had from places without biospheres to pollute.  How is it not ethical to explore opportunities to fulfill our need for resources from those sources?  I am personally doubtful it will happen but it can't be called unethical to try it.   

Actually, it does, explicitly and in terms very similar to yours as I pointed out above. Here's the quote from the second half of the article again for those who missed it the first time.

Quote
On the flip side of questions about whether it is ethical to mine asteroids is the question of whether it is ethical to leave a vast store of resources untouched. Resources that would be useful for things like green energy and large-scale agriculture.

Asteroid resources are unlikely to harbour life, meanwhile the only planetary body with known life in the Solar System, Earth, continues to be exploited. Weighing these ethical issues may become necessary in the face of climate change and ecosystem collapse. Planetary scientist Philip Metzger argues space mining will allow solutions to Earth’s increasing energy demands that are not currently feasible, such as beaming solar energy via microwave to Earth.

Offline Danderman

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #17 on: 09/26/2022 11:21 pm »
Of course, the solution to the "problem" addressed in the OP would be the establishment of space mining patents. This would provide an economic incentive for reconnaissance of the asteroids, but not requires billions of dollars.

Offline sdsds

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #18 on: 09/26/2022 11:34 pm »
Of course, the solution to the "problem" addressed in the OP would be the establishment of space mining patents. This would provide an economic incentive for reconnaissance of the asteroids, but not requires billions of dollars.

Would you please expand on that idea a bit? Patents are in modern times regarded as protection for intellectual property, linked to invention. Or perhaps you intend it in the sense of Letters patent?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letters_patent_(United_Kingdom)
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Offline Danderman

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Re: The Problems With Space Mining No One Is Talking About
« Reply #19 on: 09/27/2022 01:30 am »
Of course, the solution to the "problem" addressed in the OP would be the establishment of space mining patents. This would provide an economic incentive for reconnaissance of the asteroids, but not requires billions of dollars.

Would you please expand on that idea a bit? Patents are in modern times regarded as protection for intellectual property, linked to invention. Or perhaps you intend it in the sense of Letters patent?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letters_patent_(United_Kingdom)

Mining patents are intellectual property claims concerning location of ore bodies. These are issued in the US to prospectors.

Mining patents can be fungible, ie they can be transferred. So a company can generate near term cash exploring asteroids.

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