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Mining in space worth the money and effort?





JoryRFerrell
Supposedly, according to many credible scientists, an asteroid would have an enormous total density of precious minerals in comparison to earths crust. Meaning that a single asteroid pulled back to earth in 10 years could net us possibly hundreds of times the gold we consume each year in the U.S. And Platinum....good god the Platinum. With all these super rare, hard to obtain minerals, we would no longer need to rely on sketchy deals with corrupt dictators for cheap minerals, or get in tussles with other nations like China as often. Also, pulling enormous comets to the moon could give us enormous quantities of water there to help start a colony for refueling and whatever else we might want to do (who wouldn't honestly like to visit the moon at least once if it could be done safely?).

If we chose a target correctly, we wouldn't even need to use that large a "tugboat" for the large object.
If we pick the right time and place to hook up for an object, despite it's size, we could haul gigantic loads back near earth, effectively in terms of cost and initial investment. It would just be a matter of very technical, razor-sharp planning and management.
badai
it's worth everything even the life of the unfortunate miner. but we don't have the technology yet. so sit back and think of something more down to earth.

do you even know we can't even send man to mars yet? even on a one way trip.
ocalhoun
And then the huge influx of gold and platinum makes these metals worth much less.

...and everybody except the investors in the project get poorer.
(Though, on the bright side, if platinum becomes cheap, then fuel cell technology become much more feasible.)



And even with all that (theoretical) gold and platinum content, it may not be profitable to move it to earth. The cost of doing that would be (quite literally ^.^) astronomical.
Gold costs around $2000 per ounce. ... I'm guessing it might cost more than $2,000 to transport an ounce of material from the asteroid belt to Earth.



The only way I see asteroid mining as attractive is if large deposits of uranium are discovered. That material might just make it worthwhile. And it's something of intrinsic usefulness as an energy source (as well as a super-dense metal), so it wouldn't be terribly devalued by increasing the supply.
Radar
The idea is that there are very large amounts of resources out there. Much larger than the size of resources we typically fight over on Earth. So if you can start mining, then in the future, that will pay off.

I understand that for a long time, that might not pay off, which is why we haven't done it yet - but I can't imagine why it wouldn't eventually be a good idea.

In addition to furthering mankind into space.
Peterssidan
ocalhoun wrote:
The only way I see asteroid mining as attractive is if large deposits of uranium are discovered. That material might just make it worthwhile. And it's something of intrinsic usefulness as an energy source (as well as a super-dense metal), so it wouldn't be terribly devalued by increasing the supply.
Wouldn't that be very risky? The spacecraft could explode and release a lot of radioactive material.
IndieCthulhu
Peterssidan wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
The only way I see asteroid mining as attractive is if large deposits of uranium are discovered. That material might just make it worthwhile. And it's something of intrinsic usefulness as an energy source (as well as a super-dense metal), so it wouldn't be terribly devalued by increasing the supply.
Wouldn't that be very risky? The spacecraft could explode and release a lot of radioactive material.


It has about as much risk as it does to simply be in range of asteroids in a spaceship... unless we build some sort of kinetic barrier there is no way to protect the space ship against asteroids moving at high velocity.
LxGoodies
Finding uranium in space could be a disaster, because it would lengthen the lifecycle (on earth) of unethical military equipment and a very unhealthy and dangerous technology.

Mining in space is risky because ou don't know what the yield will be before you start mining. I think energy is a more profitable road... Let's find a clean way of transporting energy and go for solar energy exploration. We would not need to fly anywhere..

Lx
wallarookiller
They talk about it but I can't image it's very cost effective right now. And as ocalhoun said, which I've never thought of. It would really lower the cost of these medals which could be a disaster on the market.
Dharator
These asteroids are loaded with two things. Some of have a high content of water ice, which could be converted into solid oxygen and solid hydrogen to provide rocket fuel for exploration; in its un-altered form, it could help support life in space. Harvesting water from asteroids will make space travel really inexpensive, allowing for an industry to blossom in space.

Other asteroids are rich in rare metals, like platinum or gold. An abundance of these metals will enable easier acces to technology that is currently prohibitively expensive.

One small asteroid of, say, 50 meters in diameter could contain billions of dollars worth of these metals, pure and ready for easy extraction. Likewise, an icy asteroid of the same size could contain enough water to power the entire space shuttle program.
Dennise
In addition to the weighty technical problems of mining asteroids, what about the political ramifications of such ventures?

How might one country lay clam to one of these? Finders keepers? What about galactic 'claim jumpers'? 'It's likely nations would go to war over such claims as happened all to often in our Earthly past here.

I understand there are certain international laws that prohibit anyone from laying claim to any extraterrestrial body. How that would be enforced remains to be seen but human greed enabled by clever lawyers often trumps all.
scifi-real
It is worth every penny until we are able to replicate any element we want. if it is possible at all.
davorin
Yes it is possible.

Look at this link:
http://www.space.com/15405-asteroid-mining-feasibility-study.html
ocalhoun
IndieCthulhu wrote:
there is no way to protect the space ship against asteroids moving at high velocity.

Very good radar detection and automatic collision avoidance.
--That should be good enough to protect against all but the smallest and fastest ones, depending on how good the radar system is.

...And anyway, it's not like in the movies -- there's a lot of empty space between the asteroids. Avoiding collisions shouldn't be particularly challenging.
LxGoodies
davorin wrote:
Yes it is possible.

Look at this link:
http://www.space.com/15405-asteroid-mining-feasibility-study.html


Interesting link, thanks for sharing that !

If I google for the company name, I find their website

http://www.planetaryresources.com/technology/

There are some challenges: one of these will be to actually penetrate solid rock in a low gravity environment. Somehow, the vessel should first be secured very tightly to the asteroid surface. When that is accomplished and successful, the actual drilling operation can start.

Lx
davorin
The best part of the plan is that thay are planing is to pull the asteroid to orbits of the earth and there simply mine.
To minimize the cost and time of departure and arrival of cargo spacecraft
davorin
Do you have found out another link about mining the asteroids?
SonLight
There is a very good chance that in the long run, probably not in the next few decades, we may develop the ability to mine asteroids in a way that will substantially improve the economy of Earth. In the meantime, scientific exploration and exploratory mining are both good reasons to consider moving an asteroid to Earth orbit for study. Doubtless we will spend way more than we will benefit from the first asteroid, but that is to be expected in a research area.

To make asteroid mining useful, most of the products should be used in space, not carried to Earth. If we can produce rocket fuel almost entirely from asteroidal material, that alone will likely pay off in terms of material that will not have to shipped from Earth. The proposed price tag, $2.6 billion dollars, sounds quite reasonable. It lines up well with our desire to further both manned and unmanned space exploration. Eventually we could benefit from a more expensive chemical analysis of many asteroids and selecting the most valuable ones to mine.

Edit: typo. Should be "extensive" rather than "expensive"
lemonedia
badai wrote:
it's worth everything even the life of the unfortunate miner. but we don't have the technology yet. so sit back and think of something more down to earth.

do you even know we can't even send man to mars yet? even on a one way trip.


Bro, we have the technology. Planetary Resources is developing it, and already has their survey vessels ready to go.

The goal is within 7 years to have surveyed, and begin processing the first asteroid.

From a programming point of view, it's a challenge, but not out of current ability.
DerIcyferg
Right now, mining rare minerals will bring unimaginable riches, because of how rare they are.
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