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Mining in Space

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posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 05:05 AM
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I apologise for ignorance when/if i display it. I am wanting to gather opinions, view points on the ideas and methods of mining in space. Whether or not you would be open to say the moon or whether it would have to be alot further out in the asteroid belt. Methods of transportation is also key as well as power. And of course the benefits/costs and political power struggles that come with such a radical phase of our race.

Looking at the way we are destroying this earth scouring for resources that came from the stars. Most precious resources came from the asteroids that plummeted to earth when the crust was cooling. Improving technology and dependence on such requires an increase in precious metals used for circuits, conductors and other components yet if the sources are growing more scarce and scarce, how are we going to advance?

If we put more effort into finding a viable solution, we could be seeing the next huge advancement since the industrial revolution and lets be honest, the way our world is currently, im pretty sure we could use it.



At 1997 prices, a relatively small metallic asteroid with a diameter of 1.6 km (1 mile) contains more than $20 trillion US dollars worth of industrial and precious metals.


To be quite honest, the only way i can see mining in space economical is through robotics and Unmanned probes. The only problem is how would the world get the machines there and then the materials back, i simply say this because the idea of bringing an asteroid into permanent orbit around the planet seems quite foolish. Railguns seem to be a good option powered by nuclear material, corresponding stations in orbit would 'boost' the usv (Unmanned space vehicle
) to its location.

Atleast thats an idea ofcourse. What are your thoughts? And please be constructive and point out flaws instead of taking shots at the OP.

Thanks




posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 05:33 AM
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reply to post by Semoro
 


I think its inevitable... Natural resources here on earth will eventually dwindle, so the more we do now to branch out the better off I think we will be.

Unmanned makes sense to start out with. It doesnt mean we cant send small contingents of people with the robots to get things going. The moon is going to be our closest, and for the time being, most ecenomical choice for mining as well as a small base (provided we dont have one there already that we dont know about).

If we can get that going, then I think we will be off to a good start. Expand the International Space station to act as a weighstation of sorts for trips to the moon. If its posible to get some production going on the moon then we should be able to jump off to mars as well as some other places in the solar system to mine.

However, any space endeavor should be done as a unified planet. We see here on Earth what happens when resources are horded. I dont think we need to be tearing up our solar system with operation plant the flag.

If we cant get past our own differences here on Earth, which is to say people must recognize we are one people, Humans, instead of nationalities, then we have absolutely no business exploring space.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 05:40 AM
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capture the asteroid.
land it one the moon.
process it
return it to earth

pretty simple stuff really



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 05:47 AM
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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?



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 05:54 AM
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reply to post by Xcathdra
 


Yes i agree with the idea that there would have to be either a unified planet or maybe just private firm, you cannot divide the solar system up or it will just create more wars. To be honest im not sure how the public idea of mining the most fascinating and unknown entity in the night sky is. I think it would count as space pollution? I mean future generations would not see the beautiful moon that we see, so i think it sort of counts as public property? Im not sure. There are some Near Earth Objects which are considered "Hazardous" Which we could target to begin with. Core samples would show the material which it consists of and then indicate which are prime for mining.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 06:01 AM
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reply to post by guessing
 


I think with this option it would cost too much in materials than what we could gain. I think if we used Railguns to launch the material back to the earth would be alot more logical due to easier methods, Thorium reactors could supply the required electricity.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 06:03 AM
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reply to post by Semoro
 


I don't think there could ever me a mine on the moon large enough to be seen from earth. Quick, find the largest manmade hole in the world on Google maps, hint, it's in Russia.





posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 06:12 AM
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If anyone gets it I reckon it will be Russia.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 06:15 AM
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reply to post by Illustronic
 


Yet would it not also be a good idea to preserve now? I only say that because of the way todays generation, look back and go, well if they hadn't done this. It was just a presumption.

So you believe that with current technology it would not be viable to aim for mining in space? Are there any methods of transport you would suggest? I've always been curious on the topic. It seems like the only logical place to go next.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 06:23 AM
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Most asteroids have almost no gravity. You would not able to land on these, and you would most likely bounce right off. Conventional mining with humans or robots would be next to impossible because it would be extremely difficult to stay attached. One Idea I had, would be use explosives to pulverize the material and the collect it with some sort of Areogell like net structure. It would be the most logical way of doing it I can think of.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 06:24 AM
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aside from maybe He-3, what could we possibly need to mine from space to return to earth? more precious metals??

harvesting raw materials from space will be a necessity when we have long rang space travel capabilities. along the lines of star trek, I can see a large vessel utilizing various elements constantly. a fun game for those who enjoy space mining is mass effect, different planets tend to yield different elements to help upgrade your ship and weapons.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 06:24 AM
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I dont think mining resources in space to get them down to Earth will be profitable. The costs are simply too high for any material to be worth it.

But mining in space can indeed have promising future to supply materials and propellant for spaceships and colonies in space. Every kilogram launched beyond low Earth orbit will cost at least thousands or dollars, tens of thousands is more probable. Mining local resources for basic construction materials, oxygen, water and fuels is a good idea.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 06:45 AM
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reply to post by Semoro
 


With current technology as I provided above, you launch 6.7 million pounds (requiring more foot pounds of energy over, 7.1 million ft lbs) to return 160 pounds of cargo from the moon, technology has improved since then but by how much? Even 100x more efficient equals less than 2.4% efficiency, of a demonstrated 0.024%, meaning for every 100,000 pounds of mass moved used it produced 0.000238 pounds of cargo.

A system of gathering processable energy from the sun is the only way to bring up the efficiency of mining in space, and for that realize that as close as Mars, the amount of solar energy from the sun is 1/6th of what we receive. 3 solar panels each 66 feet long on the JUNO spacecraft produces 405 watts of power for it's rendezvous at Jupiter, which receives 25 times less solar energy than earth does.

Keep in mind solar energy from the sun at the moon is not sufficient enough to power a small VASMIR ion thruster, a scaled up ion thruster would require a nuclear reactor worth of electricity. These methods of travel create no G-forces, they are very slow reactive methods.

In deep space there are not enough particles to gather energy from (why I mention solar) to process, a system would have to be self contained, or I am missing something that for now is only theoretical, and speculative at best.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 06:52 AM
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Okay so doing some more research on this topic, there are alot of research papers on the topic about the efficiency of current methods. With the shuttle, in 2008, it costs $20,000 dollars per Kg, whilst with a railgun system currently in use for testing and such, 1.3 billion for the system and 500$ per Kg.

nextbigfuture.com...

This site above shows the potential of such a system. The size of the craft would be debated, however it is definetly a system worth looking into. There seems little to no advancement on the current engines used for rocket engines. I suggest reading abit of the paper or blog from the paper, seems to be quite an interesting idea.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 06:53 AM
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reply to post by Illustronic
 





Keep in mind solar energy from the sun at the moon is not sufficient enough to power a small VASMIR ion thruster


Indeed it is, solar panels in Earth orbit can produce around 200 kW / kg, which is better compared to (undeveloped, tough) nuclear space reactors, at least for smaller power outputs. Solar electric powered space tug for long duration fuel efficient cargo transfer around inner solar system (including LEO-Lagrange cargo runs) is a viable concept.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 06:59 AM
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reply to post by Semoro
 




There seems little to no advancement on the current engines used for rocket engines.


Falcon Heavy (SpaceX) will cost 2 200 dollars per kg to LEO.


www.spacex.com...
edit on 12/8/11 by Maslo because: link



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 07:01 AM
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...
edit on 12/8/11 by Maslo because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 07:04 AM
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reply to post by Maslo
 


I stand corrected. Thank you for pointing that out. The next decade will be very important due to the private sectors first few steps creating the space travel economy. So what other options are there then? Any personal favourites? New systems just gracing the news?



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 07:08 AM
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reply to post by Semoro
 


Personal favorites:
SpaceX Falcon and Dragon, SpaceDev Dreamchaser shuttle, ULA propellant depots, Bigelow Aerospace space stations, Ad Astra VASIMR thrusters, Reaction Engines Ltd. Skylon spaceplane



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 07:35 AM
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I agree that harvesting materials in space would be a far to expensive undertaking if it had to be freighted back to Earth. And regarding the idea of launching materials back to Earth with railguns: where are the materials going to impact without destroying anything on the planet?

A much more logical choice (as I see it) would be to build manufacturing plants in Earths orbit or on the Moon. For it to be transported back to Earth (and I know this is a bit far fetched) we could perhaps develop a ''space elevator''. A space station in stationary orbit around Earth, with a large cable (possibly built by ultra light nanotubes) in which materials can be transported to Earth.

Otherwise, we have to develop a lot of new, cheaper and more effective propulsion systems for our space crafts



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