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Mining in Space

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posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 08:22 AM
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Once there's a permanent settlement on the Moon, asteroid mining might become feasible. But it might be too expensive to bring the resources back to Earth.

Where are those gosh darn settlements by the way? I thought we were supposed to have them by the early 2020's, but with the current plans to visit asteroids, Mars and whatnot first, it would seem to take at least 50 more years before a colony on the Moon might be established. And it doesn't bother me at all. The concept of having "bases on the moon" is just unnecessary at the moment. The reason why space exploration is developing with baby steps is because there's no absolute reason to do it immediately. We're perfectly fine staying on Earth, using dead plants as the main source of energy. But once the resources on Earth are finally depleted, space exploration should skyrocket into new levels because it becomes absolutely necessary.




posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 08:46 AM
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The Moon seems to be the best option in the immediate future. For one we can establish mining operations underground on the Moon which is important for radiation shielding; radiation is a problem for prolonged Moon-stays. Also there's water on the Moon and a lot more than previously thought. This water can be used for any Moonbase/ Moon colony inhabitants and for Rocket propellant. Fueling Cargo Spaceships or even establishing a fuel depot on the Moon would be huge whether the fuel is developed from water or Helium 3! Most of the Shuttle's weight is/ was attributed to fuel, so this is a very important aspect of infrastructure needed for Space, and not just for the Moon, but for any business that we'll have in Space. Then there's the possibility of manufacturing Spaceships in orbit at the Moon or in Lagrange points for deep space travels to Mars and abroad. The amount of fuel needed to escape the Moon's gravity is much less than what's needed here on Earth . This can make it easier for travel around the Solar system, and maybe even spur certain industries out in Space such as travel, tourism, sports, etc. I could go on and on about why the Moon is the best jump-off for our foray into the cosmos but I''l save that for another post.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 09:54 AM
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reply to post by Illustronic
 

I agree that getting mined raw materials down to Earth would be hard, even if we had a space elevator.

It would make more sense to put the factories in space, at a convenient but safe distance from the asteroids being mined. That way you would only need to ship down finished products, at a fraction of the cost.

However, I don’t like the idea of adding to Earth’s mass by loading the planet with offworld-manufactured tat. Let’s hope it never happens; if people get their way, though, it will.


edit on 12/8/11 by Astyanax because: it because edit.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 10:12 AM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 




However, I don’t like the idea of adding to Earth’s mass by loading the planet with offworld-manufactured tat. Let’s hope it never happens;


Why? Will it lead to something bad? Earth already acquires a lot of of material from space.

www.physlink.com...



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 10:21 AM
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reply to post by Maslo
 

Yes, of course it does. The ill effects I fear aren’t gravitational but socioeconomic and environmental.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 10:35 AM
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No offense to anyone here but many posters seem to have limited thinking when it comes to these kind of operations. Nanotechnology needs to be developed for mining purposes obviously. These nanites would be powered by background radiation and can be made to self replicate on command. Some may consider this to be science fiction but we are on the precipice of making this happen given our current understanding of machines on the nanoscale. These nanites will receive telemetry and transmit commands to the whole body of themselves. Resource problems, wars will become a thing of the past with this implementation. These nanites can also be given commands to build specific structures to facilitate the return of materials to Earth.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 10:40 AM
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reply to post by LuxFestinus
 

Way to go, cowboy!


Let’s just hope Flash Gordon’s flying monkeys don’t eat the nanites.

But who knows, maybe one day.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 10:59 AM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


I cant think of any bad socioeconomic effects.

When it comes to environmental effects, then bringing a lot of "space oil" (hydrocarbons) for use as a fuel may result in increase of CO2 far more beyond possible with fossil sources, thus having disastrous consequences. That should be restricted. But hydrocarbons are not on asteroids and are much farther than the belt, and in the future when we will have the ability to economically extract them we probably already will be using other energy sources.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 12:09 PM
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reply to post by Maslo
 

Discussing the socioeconomic effects would be off topic, I think. They’re captured in the general proposition that we already have too many gadgets for our own good. As for the environmental effects, they have to do mainly with the energy the gadgets use up (and the resultant heat generated) and the difficulty of disposing of them after they become – as all gadgets, from pepper mills to B-2 bombers, must – trash.

I’m all for mining asteroids, though. I think we shall need to, if we are ever going to extend our species’ range beyond the confines of Earth. Which I feel would be a good thing, on balance. And we are sure to do it unless we suffer some catastrophe. Unfortunately, we will do it in the usual muddled, inefficient, corrupt, money-grubbing human way, with a few candles of heroism and charity shining through the general murk.

Griping aside, though, I’d like to see as much primary production and manufacturing as possible move off-planet. The less of that stinky stuff we have to tolerate down here, the better.


edit on 12/8/11 by Astyanax because: of it.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 12:56 PM
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I type my responses as I read the thread an incorporate them into one response, since I'm a late joiner.

reply to post by Semoro
 


Great idea! I've been saying we need to mine the asteroids for years! It truly would bring some much needed boost to the global economy and, more importantly, the sciences. Together, that will improve the quality of life throughout the world.

We can even achieve this goal using current technology, if applied in the proper manner. It would have to be a manned and unmanned expedition. I'll lay out a method, starting with the way to get to the asteroids, and bring them home, followed by methods to mining them.

Firstly, chemical rockets can launch an unmanned craft. The primary power source for this craft would have to be nuclear, probably a radioisotope thermoelectric generator but preferaby nuclear fission. This craft will require to have a normal amount of chemically powered maneuvering thrusters, but will also have an ion drive for its main propulsion. The ion drive need not be switched on in transit to the main belt, but it could help expedite the process. This has been done with NASA's Dawn probe. An asteroid can be selected that can be moved through the craft's main drive either ahead of time or once the craft is in proximity itself. The asteroid need not be the mile wide example you used, as several smaller, mineral rich bodies surely exist. Landing on an asteroid has already been done by JAXA's Hayabusa probe, while attaching can be accomplished by driving lag bolts into the surface. The thrust from the ion drive, which will be used to propel the body towards Earth, will also help keep it in place. It may not be a quick move from main belt to near Earth, but with the use of the ion drive it would at least be efficient. Once in motion, the asteroid can be placed in either a Lunar or Earth orbit, or parked at a Lunar Lagrangian point, probably L4 or L5. Personally, I would lean towards Lunar orbit.

Mining would have to be done with manned operators, which may be on the asteroid itself, or nearby remotely operating equipment. Mining equipment can be constructed on Earth and launched. The equipment may not need to be the heavy, large equipment seen on Earth. Engineers love a challenge, and surely could come up with some unique and handy ways to create the tools needed. It doesn't even have to be mined or refined in space, only cut up into manageable chunks.

As far as returning the material to Earth? Pretty simple, really. Once the asteroid has been split into smaller pieces, attach heat ablative material and either retrorockets or parachutes to it and kick it into a degrading orbit around Earth. Allow it to reenter and land in the same manner as an Apollo or Soyuz craft. There are several potential landing sites, including the Australian Outback, Russian Siberia, China’s Gobi Desert, the African Sahara, North America’s Sonoran Desert and even land in the Arctic and Antarctic could be utilized.

reply to post by Xcathdra
 


I agree that this is inevitable, but I don't see the need to have this done by a unified planet. While I do strongly believe that mining the cosmos will improve the global quality of life, there is no way all nations can be coaxed to cooperate on something of this scale. I don't believe that only one nation should have a monopoly over the asteroids either - competition and diversity will decrease the chances of stagnation.

reply to post by Illustronic
 


Why do you have to send a whole craft? Who says it has to be such a large asteroid? I believe I've addressed some of your concerns.

reply to post by Semoro
 


Using a electromagnetic catapult is something I saw in your first post, and didn't mean to ignore. It's a phenomenal concept, and one I believe has more potential than a space elevator. It's easy to maintain due to it being primarily on or near the ground. It could also be built nearly anywhere on the planet, though near the equator with a terminus on a high mountain would be best.

There are several issues with it though: In order to launch people (safely) it would have to be incredibly long, as in hundreds of miles long. In order to have a shorter launching mechanism, it could be used to launch the projectile to an altitude where chemical rockets could kick in. It would also have to be kept in a vacuum, and a loss of this vacuum would be catestrophic for any projectile being launched.

reply to post by BriGuyTM90
 


Not true, as I already stated. JAXA's Hayabusa did just that.

reply to post by wingsfan
 


First off, great name and great avatar.

H-3 would be great, but only if we had a reliable source of fusion power. It's not something we would need to go after immediately, and may really only be able to be found on the Moon, where it has been deposited by solar wind.

Prescious metals would be the best thing we could get from the asteroids, and not just gold and platinum, but the rare earth metals we need for our advanced machinery and gadgets we use every day.

reply to post by Maslo
 


The more often you do something, the cheaper it becomes. One hundred years ago it was expensive to travel across the country. Three hundred years ago it was expensive to travel across the Atlantic. Five hundred years ago, travel around the globe was a new and dangerous thing.

Maybe two hundred years from now people will look back and say similar things about space travel, but only if we continue to take the first steps today.

reply to post by Astyanax
 


While estimates vary, literal tons of material makes its way to Earth each year from space. Depending on your source, this amount can be from 14,600 tons to 22,000 tons to 37,000 - 78,000 tons. Unfortunately, there is no real conclusive way to measure this, but needless to say it happens every day.


reply to post by Astyanax
 


Like Maslo I thought you meant gravitational and not socioeconomic or enviromental. Also, like Maslo, I cannot see negative effects to these factors.

Aside from their use in every day gadgets, many rare earth elements have use for medical purposes. Even in America, many hospitals are having to switch to lower grade equipment because the better things are just too expensive. Increasing global medical power will increase the quality of life for everyone, though espeically those at greatest risk. Also, with a lack of need to mine these elements on Earth we could see a decline in wars fought over these minerals. The loss of bloodshed will and loss of demand for terrestrial mining could also lead to a decline in labor slavery throughout the world.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 01:08 PM
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you don't have to build a giant mining vehicle on earth and launch it. you launch sections and components up seperately and put them together in space.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 05:39 PM
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reply to post by Maslo
 


That is projected, let's see what really happens, since they only have on their resume a small satellite in LEO and a block of cheese returned to earth.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 05:51 PM
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Why do you have to send a whole craft? Who says it has to be such a large asteroid? I believe I've addressed some of your concerns.


Not sure what you are referring to but you have to get a lot of mass OFF of earth to do anything. I don't care where you launch a cargo vessel from it's space journey, tell me where does the vessel come from? Thin space?



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 05:59 PM
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Good topic! I think they have been mining in space for a long time now. I can't remember which search engine it was (either dtic.mil or osti.gov) but I found a document that talked about mining in space somewhere around 1962 or 63. I found it interesting that 7-8 years before we even "landed on the moon", the government was discussing mining on other planets (how would it be possible, what materials, etc, etc). AND I found another document discussing bases on other planets from around the same time. SO! Before we even land on the moon, they are trying to figure out the best way to mine on other planets and put bases on other planets. Ooooooooooook. Very telling if you ask me. I'll try to find the documents later. peace



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 06:02 PM
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reply to post by Illustronic
 


In your post I referenced (and this one) you claim that the largest of obstacles is getting the massive equipment and craft off planet and to an asteroid. I feel that you are expecting there to be more mass than necessary to complete this sort of operation.

In my first post in this thread, the first reply to Semoro I explain how this could be done, without launching anything beyond current means and capabilities.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 06:08 PM
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reply to post by cmdrkeenkid
 


That's still a lot of mass, and where do the factories come from, I suspect earth. Review my outline of the only real mass to escape earth escape velocity and return, Apollo's.
edit on 12-8-2011 by Illustronic because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 06:26 PM
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reply to post by Illustronic
 


Sure, it's a lot of mass, but nothing beyond what we can lift today. NASA's Dawn was launched using a Delta II and has a mass of 1,250 kg. A Delta IV could easily push something, including a heavier nuclear powered probe, out to the main belt.

What about factories? In my post I stated how little would need to be done before bringing the materials to Earth. No mining, no refining - only dicing the body up and dropping it to Earth. The only reason we don't have the tools to do this today is because no one has attempted to do this yet. Give a group of engineers a few million dollars and a couple months and you'll surely have your tools.

Lunar escape velocity is 2.4 km/s, and that's at the surface. Having the asteroid placed into a Lunar orbit negates the problem of landing the body on the Moon for the process of being broken apart while also requiring less energy to have it sent down to Earth. Once the materials needed to complete this process are in Lunar orbit, there is no need for any of it to be brought back to Earth. Only the crews will have to be exchanged regularly, but even they could hitch a ride back with the materials being sent to Earth. Waste materials can also be returned this way. Replacement crews, parts and supplies will have to be sent up regularly, but again with repetition comes a reduction in cost.

The only reason I suggest a Lunar orbit for this operation is solely for the sake of sanity of everyone on the planet. The psychological factor of an asteroid being placed into Earth orbit would surely can this project early on. Perhaps once it became a regular occurrence for humanity to move asteroids it could be moved from a Lunar orbit, to an Earth orbit. This would in turn save on money and amount of fuel and time needed move people, parts and supplies back and forth.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 06:37 PM
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reply to post by cmdrkeenkid
 


Wow is all i can say to your very informative response. Thank you so much for addressing the issues


Now i must admit, the railgun idea does present problems, ofcourse the main one in my opinion would be the low life span of each set of rails, maybe a few launches each. Yet i don't think we could use railguns for human transportation due to the acceleration and the g's that would be created via such a mechanism. I think the Railgun's sole purpose would be unmanned expeditions into space. Due to this being a late night thread, i apologise for the lack of response to your post.

I read an article about how thorium is the next level of Nuclear power generation and how the chinese are boldly building a reactor.

www.telegraph.co.uk...




US physicists in the late 1940s explored thorium fuel for power. It has a higher neutron yield than uranium, a better fission rating, longer fuel cycles, and does not require the extra cost of isotope separation.


Now that was in the 1940's, imagine the technology that could be implemented nowadays. I do believe it would be a very good source of energy to look into due to it's abundance here and on the moon. I also believe it can be found in some asteroids (Can't quite remember where i read that though, will look). It is more common than tin and could easily be used safely. I am confused in how this could not be used as a fuel source?

Unmanned probes would be used to find suitable asteroids for mining before monitoring equipment is drilled into the surface and samples are taken. Then either it is mined on site or cut up into smaller chunks, however i do think it would have to be mined carefully to minimise loss of material. Now i know this is probably a long shot but if anyone has played the warhammer game with the way marines fall from the sky in capsules? What if there were reusable cargo capsules like such for the launch and recovery between earth and low earth orbit? Or even further. Its just an idea obviously. A good location for the railgun and recovery area would have to be Australia or even Africa. Both have large expanses with little population, both human and animal. This would minimise environmental damage. After the first few deliveries, more could be created and the project expanded, or atleast thats how i see it. It would have to expand fast if we are to advance and secure a better standerd of living as resource wars continue to edge closer and closer to reality.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 09:33 PM
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reply to post by Semoro
 


A reactor is only as good as the turbines that it spins, though I do agree that Thorium is the proper way to go for future nuclear plants.

Africa would be the best place for an electromagnetic catapult, particularly with the exiting terminus built off the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.



posted on Aug, 12 2011 @ 09:41 PM
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reply to post by cmdrkeenkid
 


Yeah i agree the railgun would have advantages being built into a mountain or an elevated level. The whole space elevator does not appeal to me at all, it makes me wonder how they imagine such a thing would work, it's structural integrity would have to be perfect to hold such a huge scale building up. Also the cord idea just seems to surreal? As in what cord could possibly support an entire elevator up and down to an orbitting space station, the strain just seems too much.

I also think large cargo spaceships need to be developed. Another idea is Light propulsion



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