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Asteroid Mining

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Asteroid Mining

Unread postby Serial_Worrier » Wed 09 May 2012, 13:37:30

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

All of a sudden there's this new interest in mining asteroids for all our "rare earths" and whatnot. A question I'd have for planetary physicists would be how much mass of material can we extract from such bodies before having an adverse effect on the orbits of these bodies? Imagine mining some asteroid, and then suddenly it veers off course and slams into the Earth. Not good.
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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby dolanbaker » Wed 09 May 2012, 15:15:08

Well, that's one way of getting the minerals down to earth quickly and cheaply!
No need to mine it at all. :lol:
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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby SeaGypsy » Wed 09 May 2012, 16:33:18

+1 Gaz. Stupid distraction from reality is what this is all about.
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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby EnergyUnlimited » Wed 09 May 2012, 17:02:07

At $ few tens of millions per kg it might work, so if asteroid is made of large, Cullinan size diamond crystals and relatively close to Earth, who knows?

But for all other purposes that is a plain nonsense.
More of that sh*t will be paddled around as distraction, while modern civilization goes down the drain.

And you don't need to be planetary scientist to work it out.
Just check how much it cost to bring lunar rock back, even by robotic probe.
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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby NickyBoy » Thu 10 May 2012, 07:45:11

EnergyUnlimited wrote:Just check how much it cost to bring lunar rock back, even by robotic probe.


A significant proportion of that cost is due to the requirement of escaping the Luna gravity well, which isn’t a factor when working with small Near Earth Objects.

Also folks need to remember that NASA is basically a bad joke, far removed from the achievements of its peak. Every time the private industry has run in parallel to NASA, they have been able to perform the same function for a tiny fraction of the cost. This includes getting objects up into orbit and getting them back down safely.

The cost of extracting NEO material for a private endeavour is likely to be less than 10% of the cost of NASA retrieving a Luna rock. At that cost, rare earth elements become profitable.

Of course, none of this matters if you have lost the ability to create fuel for your rockets :-D.
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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby SeaGypsy » Fri 11 May 2012, 17:53:41

For the same reason your laptop can run for hours on the energy it takes to go outside and measure up where to dig a hole, mining in space is way beyond our ability. We can create endlessly more efficient electronics (Moore's Law) but when it comes to digging holes in the ground there are hard limits. Compare the energy inputs required for deep sea mining (mostly limited to oil/ so far) to those on land for some appreciation of the maths involved. Nobody has invented the hydrogen powered engine to drive the mining equipment just to begin with, leaving whatever effort having to carry the bulk of it's fuel load, or a mass of batteries and solar panels/ with mandatory delays for recharge constraints. I think this is just something to try building a bubble around, really.
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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby HopDavid » Wed 16 May 2012, 20:03:29

NickyBoy wrote:Of course, none of this matters if you have lost the ability to create fuel for your rockets :-D.


It looks like the first resource they hope to bring back is water

Water can be broken into hydrogen and oxygen, one of the better chemical propellants. Propellant high on the slopes of earth's gravity well could make space transportation much less difficult and expensive.
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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby HopDavid » Wed 16 May 2012, 20:19:34

Serial_Worrier wrote:A question I'd have for planetary physicists would be how much mass of material can we extract from such bodies before having an adverse effect on the orbits of these bodies? Imagine mining some asteroid, and then suddenly it veers off course and slams into the Earth. Not good.


Page 15 of this pdf
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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby Keith_McClary » Thu 21 Jun 2012, 02:01:38

Today's Dilbert:
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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby Keith_McClary » Wed 24 Sep 2014, 01:30:42

Another reason we don’t have a manned space program any more is that all those decades of giddy rhetoric about New Worlds For Man never got around to discussing the difference between technical feasibility and economic viability. The promoters of space travel fell into the common trap of believing their own hype, and convinced themselves that orbital factories, mines on the Moon, and the like would surely turn out to be paying propositions. What they forgot, of course, is what I’ve called the biosphere dividend: the vast array of goods and services that the Earth’s natural cycles provide for human beings free of charge, which have to be paid for anywhere else. The best current estimate for the value of that dividend, from a 1997 paper in Science written by a team headed by Richard Constanza, is that it’s something like three times the total value of all goods and services produced by human beings.

As a very rough estimate, in other words, economic activity anywhere in the solar system other than Earth will cost around four times what it costs on Earth, even apart from transportation costs, because the services provided here for free by the biosphere have to be paid for in space or on the solar system’s other worlds. That’s why all the talk about space as a new economic frontier went nowhere; orbital manufacturing was tried—the Skylab program of the 1970s, the Space Shuttle, and the International Space Station in its early days all featured experiments along those lines—and the modest advantages of freefall and ready access to hard vacuum didn’t make enough of a difference to offset the costs. Thus manned space travel, like commercial supersonic aircraft, nuclear power plants, and plenty of other erstwhile waves of the future, turned into a gargantuan white elephant that could only be supported so long as massive and continuing government subsidies were forthcoming.

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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Wed 24 Sep 2014, 03:50:28

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that anybody would give credence to some weirdo tree-worshiping cultist ideas about space technology.

I mean really - Druids?
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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby Sixstrings » Wed 24 Sep 2014, 05:57:41

As a very rough estimate, in other words, economic activity anywhere in the solar system other than Earth will cost around four times what it costs on Earth, even apart from transportation costs, because the services provided here for free by the biosphere have to be paid for in space or on the solar system’s other worlds.


I would actually guess it's much more than "four times" the cost. All the cost would be on the front end though, with economy of scale, efficiency, and self-sufficiency realized at the back end of extra-terrestrial colonization.

Thus manned space travel, like commercial supersonic aircraft, nuclear power plants, and plenty of other erstwhile waves of the future, turned into a gargantuan white elephant that could only be supported so long as massive and continuing government subsidies were forthcoming.


Oh, he's just a luddite.

Elon Musk is making that re-usable rocket, which will cut costs to just the fuel alone which is nothing.

It will become cheap to get to space (comparatively), and that will change the cost benefit analysis the druid guy is talking about. Also, future techs and ways to launch into orbit, like Musk's hyperloop could be a railgun launch system -- no rocket fuel required, at all!
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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby Withnail » Wed 24 Sep 2014, 06:10:29

Sixstrings wrote:
Oh, he's just a luddite.

Elon Musk is making that re-usable rocket, which will cut costs to just the fuel alone which is nothing.



the Space Shuttle used to recover and reuse its boosters and obviously the main vehicle, but it didn't make Space Shuttle flights particularly cheap.

It was meant to, in theory.
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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby Sixstrings » Wed 24 Sep 2014, 06:26:25

Withnail wrote:the Space Shuttle used to recover and reuse its boosters and obviously the main vehicle, but it didn't make Space Shuttle flights particularly cheap.

It was meant to, in theory.


Ya that was the idea.

Let me explain a couple things, here. Firstly, it's not a sure thing SpaceX will successfully develop the reusable rocket. But if they do, then that will be revolutionary.

Here's how it works.

Each rocket stage will separate leaving just enough fuel remaining, to land back on the ground. So, first stage separation goes, and instead of just crashing in the water what it will do is *land itself*, with landing gear legs that come out the bottom and it will make a powered rocket landing.

So the plan is, to do that with all rocket stages.

So the rocket launches, and voila, all the pieces land right back in the same spot they launched from. Stack them back up, fill the fuel up, and it's ready to go again.

Here's a video of a grasshopper landing test. The rocket launches, and then vertically lands itself:

F9R First Flight Test | 250m
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UjWqQPWmsY
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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby Withnail » Wed 24 Sep 2014, 06:37:40

Sixstrings wrote:
Withnail wrote:the Space Shuttle used to recover and reuse its boosters and obviously the main vehicle, but it didn't make Space Shuttle flights particularly cheap.

It was meant to, in theory.


Ya that was the idea.

Let me explain a couple things, here. Firstly, it's not a sure thing SpaceX will successfully develop the reusable rocket. But if they do, then that will be revolutionary.

Here's how it works.

Each rocket stage will separate leaving just enough fuel remaining, to land back on the ground. So, first stage separation goes, and instead of just crashing in the water what it will do is *land itself*, with landing gear legs that come out the bottom and it will make a powered rocket landing.

So the plan is, to do that with all rocket stages.

So the rocket launches, and voila, all the pieces land right back in the same spot they launched from. Stack them back up, fill the fuel up, and it's ready to go again.

Here's a video of a grasshopper landing test. The rocket launches, and then vertically lands itself:

F9R First Flight Test | 250m
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UjWqQPWmsY


If having recoverable boosters makes launches cheaper, why were Space Shuttle launches more expensive than rocket launches?

Also how can these boosters keep enough fuel to make a powered landing and still be meaningful boosters?

Surely just a parachute would be more efficient.
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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby Keith_McClary » Wed 24 Sep 2014, 11:54:34

KaiserJeep wrote:Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that anybody would give credence to some weirdo tree-worshiping cultist ideas about space technology.

I mean really - Druids?
Would you give credence to Christians?
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Re: Asteroid Mining

Unread postby Sixstrings » Wed 24 Sep 2014, 13:05:06

Withnail wrote:If having recoverable boosters makes launches cheaper, why were Space Shuttle launches more expensive than rocket launches?


Well.. any rocket is a lot cheaper than what the shuttle was, reusable or not.

I think the shuttle cost about $1.2 billion per launch.

Space ex is doing launches for $55 million. Reusable rocket would cut that further, by as much as 2/3.

Also how can these boosters keep enough fuel to make a powered landing and still be meaningful boosters?

Surely just a parachute would be more efficient.


Okay the answer I've read on this is that parachutes would not allow for a precise landing and what they want is precise so they don't have to go looking for the thing or fishing it out of the water, just have it land right on X marks the spot.

Apparently the math says there's enough fuel to land. Fuel is actually *cheap* compared to everythign else -- launch vehicle, payloads, rocket fuel is the cheapest darn part of it.

So, just make a rocket big enough for the extra bit of fuel to land the stages.

Remember, you come in through the atmosphere like that and that's a lot of drag and you're really not going all that fast -- the engine could be fired up not too far off the ground, and land it, with a fraction of the booster's fuel required.

When playing kerbal space program, I use parachutes -- I'll have to try just rocket landing, just to see how much fuel that takes. :lol:

In principle you're right, about parachutes -- spacex is going rather futuristic badass landing boosters this way. According to the demo video, even the dragon crew capsule will land without parachutes.

Better video showing the whole process:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_1WJ7UUm8I
Last edited by Sixstrings on Wed 24 Sep 2014, 13:18:42, edited 1 time in total.
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