posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 05:47 AM
The whole space mining topic to me is pure science fiction, but lets take a look at some of the reality.
How big of a vessel does one think they can load up with what is mined to send back to earth? Would it be a vessel as large as the Space Shuttle cargo
bay–60 x 15 feet. Larger like a stage of the Apollo heavy lift Saturn 5? How much smaller is that compared to say an ocean oil tanker? How long does
the oil in a taker last and what is the expense?
Consider the energy it would take to get tanks to earth escape velocity, consider how these tanks hold up through reentry.
Lets broad brush some numbers. Apollo 15 to 17 liftoff mass was about 6.7 million pounds, of that around 100,000 pounds reached earth escape velocity,
of that about 10,000 pounds reached earth reentry, and of that about 160 pounds was cargo, (other than the vessel, men, and life support systems).
These numbers are rounded a bit for easy comparison purposes, but you can verify them yourself easily.
The counter arguments are that manufacturing could occur on site from the raw materials mined, eventually, I suppose after one launches to earth
escape velocity a factory full of cargo.
Forget about nuclear powered orbital trajectory adjustments to large bodies in space with a mass of inertia greater that the entire arsenal on earth
ever created. One simple mile in diameter comet impact releases more than 1,000,000 mega tons worth of TNT, the Tsar Bomba was about 50. Using huge
solar arrays to heat a body to a different orbit is the only feasible way of slightly altering a body in space over a long period of time, totally
impracticable but with enough notice, may be a way to change a trajectory of a possible collision if discovered years before impact, but not to
harness a body that never comes close to earth to begin with.
Some fail to consider the amount of energy it takes to launch large empty vessels into LEO and then beyond. Would that investment ever reach even a 5%
return of investment and energy in the minerals delivered?