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View Full Version : OT, maybe: Asteroid mining press conference



Evan
04-24-2012, 01:46 PM
This is going on now as of 10:30 am April 24 2012. The company Planetary Resources is announcing plans to mine near earth asteroids. They are not joking and the list of investors has enough capital to build an entire fleet of space shuttles. Initial investment by the principals may reach 30 billion dollars.

The live stream which will go on until afternoon is at

http://www.geekwire.com/2012/robots-space-live-planetary-resources-news-conference/

lazlo
04-24-2012, 02:24 PM
$30 billion isn't even in the ballpark to build a single space shuttle, let alone a fleet.

But even assuming they had a fleet of shuttles, the economics don't seem to make sense.

Edit: LOL - James Cameron is a "technical advisor" & the Google founders are 2 of the principal investors.
They're proposing to build a "swarm of robots" to harvest "water & platinum elements"

:-)

flathead4
04-24-2012, 03:29 PM
Their goal is to mine for platinum? Do they think that there is enough precious metals out there and that they can return them to earth with a low enough cost to make a profit? They would have to bring back tons and tons of it to cover their costs and wouldn't that knock the price of platinum in the dirt? Maybe I just lack vision....

Tom

Black_Moons
04-24-2012, 03:36 PM
$30 billion isn't even in the ballpark to build a single space shuttle, let alone a fleet.

:-)

Only when you let the military declare the specs and require 100% 'Space grade' components for every last thing.

If its unmanned and you don't mind the odd one blowing up now and again (Keeps the TV ratings up anyway), Slap some sponsor logos on the side, Im sure you could build rockets for a couple million each.

aboard_epsilon
04-24-2012, 03:52 PM
nearer home

wouldnt there be more money to be made if they salvaged all the space junk ..floating around planet earth.

what they are planning is 200 years away.

all the best.markj

lazlo
04-24-2012, 03:56 PM
Only when you let the military declare the specs and require 100% 'Space grade' components for every last thing.

SpaceX -- Elon Musk's (Paypal co-founder) commercial space venture, spent $1.7 billion for their Falcon 9: very simple rocket with an Apollo-style retrievable capsule. And that was with billions in free support and services (expertise, engineering support, launch services) from NASA. They're billions and years away from something as sophisticated as a shuttle, let alone a fleet of shuttles, and a swarm of platinum harvesting robots.

I'd love to be proven wrong, but my bullsh!t detector is going off.

Not coincidentally, this is the same week that Google reissued their stock to maintain control over the board, pitched the Google Glasses project...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9c6W4CCU9M4

Evan
04-24-2012, 04:24 PM
$30 billion isn't even in the ballpark to build a single space shuttle, let alone a fleet.

Endeavour cost 1.7 billion in 1987. That translates to about 3.2 billion now. The Shuttle is a simple design from the late 60's and is easy to build.

We (the government) have forgotten how easy it is to get into space.

http://ixian.ca/pics9/mercury.jpg

aboard_epsilon
04-24-2012, 04:32 PM
SpaceX -- Elon Musk's (Paypal co-founder) commercial space venture, spent $1.7 billion for their Falcon 9: very simple rocket with an Apollo-style retrievable capsule. And that was with billions in free support and services (expertise, engineering support, launch services) from NASA. They're billions and years away from something as sophisticated as a shuttle, let alone a fleet of shuttles, and a swarm of platinum harvesting robots.

I'd love to be proven wrong, but my bullsh!t detector is going off.

Not coincidentally, this is the same week that Google reissued their stock to maintain control over the board, pitched the Google Glasses project...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9c6W4CCU9M4

So the future is all about people talking to themselves //...it's bad enough now, with people with headsets ..i sometimes don't see the set and think they are talking to me ..

usually the people who wear them, look at me as if I'm off another planet when i interrupt them....they are the ones on another planet.......
and so are the people that want everyone to hear their conversation.

can you imagine going into a store/shop .....were everyones walking around looking for things whilst talking to their glasses !!

the worlds going to get a lot noisier .

all the best.markj

Evan
04-24-2012, 04:34 PM
I'd love to be proven wrong, but my bullsh!t detector is going off.

The company has been in operation studying the feasibility of the project for two years now. They just haven't been making any noise about it until they were convinced.

Evan
04-24-2012, 04:45 PM
Their goal is to mine for platinum

That is just to attract the attention of the press. They are more interested in basic items such as water. Look up STP or Solar Thermal Rocket which is a steam powered rocket with energy from the sun. Cheap design with fuel readily available from near Earth asteroids. They aren't talking about going to the asteroid belt, they don't need to. There are thousands of asteroids in orbits that pass close to earth. Estimates for such known asteroids in the right size range and orbit is about 400 right now and there are many more yet to be discovered. That 400 only counts the ones that are easier to get to than the Moon. "Get to" means in terms of Delta V, or the amount of orbital velocity change required which means fuel.

lazlo
04-24-2012, 05:40 PM
Endeavour cost 1.7 billion in 1987. That translates to about 3.2 billion now.

I was talking about the NRE Evan:

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

"Early during development of the space shuttle, NASA had estimated that the program would cost $7.45 billion ($43 billion in 2011 dollars, adjusting for inflation) in development/non-recurring costs, and $9.3M ($54M in 2011 dollars) per flight. Early estimates for the cost to deliver payload to low earth orbit were as low as $118 per pound ($260/kg) of payload ($635/pound in 2011 dollars), based on marginal or incremental launch costs, and assuming a 65,000 pound (30 000 kg) payload capacity and 50 launches per year.

The actual total cost of the shuttle program through 2011, adjusted for inflation, is $196 billion. The exact breakdown into non-recurring and recurring costs is not available, but, according to NASA, the average cost to launch a Space Shuttle as of 2011 is about $450 million per mission."

lazlo
04-24-2012, 05:45 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9c6W4CCU9M4

So the future is all about people talking to themselves //...it's bad enough now, with people with headsets ..i sometimes don't see the set and think they are talking to me ..

That Google Glasses video is so absurd, and so out of touch with reality :(
Google really wants to believe that people want to jack-in the moment they wake up, wearing a pair of geeky HUD glasses.

There are definitely killer applications for HUD glasses (which have been around for years): soldiers, for example, could get live map updates, situation awareness (location of enemies, squad mates, ...). But it's not going to be a life changing technology like Google would like you to believe.

oil mac
04-24-2012, 06:19 PM
Bringing some alien material into mother earth,(Should it be feasable, Which i doubt), does not seem to me to be particularly wise In this sector of time, Late 20th to early 21st century, Man seems to delight in his arrogance at playing God to his peril

flathead4
04-24-2012, 06:48 PM
That is just to attract the attention of the press. They are more interested in basic items such as water

So they are not really going after precious metals, like they said? They are really going after water? And then they are going to use the water to power their rockets so they can find more water. I'm just trying to figure out how they plan "to make a lot of money." Although, I guess anything that came from an asteroid would have some value, at first. If you can get four dollars for a bottle of earth water at a sporting event, just think how much you could sell a bottle of "space" water for. Of course you would have to sell a considerable amount of space water just to cover the initial 30B investment.

Tom

lazlo
04-24-2012, 06:53 PM
From the article Evan linked:

"Will focus on near-Earth asteroids. Two types of resources.

1) Water. Hydrogen and oxygen are most efficient forms of rocket propellant. It is the best rocket fuel out there. Provides not only with the ability to support life drinking water, food but also propellant.

2) Precious metals. Platinum group metals. People have been been mining asteroids on Earth based on asteroids that have hit surface for a long time."

mrriggs
04-24-2012, 07:00 PM
Google really wants to believe that people want to jack-in the moment they wake up

People already do, only now they are looking down at their phone. At least with the glasses they will be able to see where they are going.

Evan
04-24-2012, 07:37 PM
So they are not really going after precious metals, like they said? They are really going after water? And then they are going to use the water to power their rockets so they can find more water. I'm just trying to figure out how they plan "to make a lot of money."

The price of water at the ISS is approximately $22,000 per litre. That is a good start and it applies to the price of anything else not counting the intrinsic market value. If anybody wants to go anywhere they will need water. It is also easily separated into hydrogen and oxygen using abundant solar power. Pretty good rocket fuel.


I was talking about the NRE Evan:

Nobody has any idea what the shuttle program cost. The only figure that is well known is the cost of building the Endeavor because it was a separate program. Rockwell used the original shuttle program as an accounting dumping ground for cost overruns on many other fixed price contracts.

I said they have the financial resources to build a fleet of shuttles. They do.

lazlo
04-24-2012, 09:26 PM
Nobody has any idea what the shuttle program cost.

The GAO that provided those figures does, and those are very conservative numbers :)


I said they have the financial resources to build a fleet of shuttles. They do.

If it cost NASA $192 billion for the whole program and half a billion per launch, figure $100 billion for the first shuttle.

Considering that SpaceX just spent nearly $2 billion to build a rocket that's not nearly as sophisticated as Ariane, they're right on track to spend $100 billion for their first shuttle (in 2011 dollars).

So how you get a fleet of shuttles and a "swarm of robots" out of $30 billion in Angel pledges is beyond me. It's a James Cameron/Larry Page/Eric Schmidt publicity stunt.

NASA's Shuttle Program Cost $209 Billion — Was it Worth It? (http://www.space.com/12166-space-shuttle-program-cost-promises-209-billion.html)

Evan
04-24-2012, 09:51 PM
Who cares? That has nothing to do with my point. These guys have enough funding behind this project to be taken seriously.


It's a James Cameron/Larry Page/Eric Schmidt publicity stunt.

Very unlikely. They have already been in business for two years.

Read this:


Feasibility of Capturing and Returning Small Near-Earth Asteroids
IEPC-2011-277
Presented at the 32nd International Electric Propulsion Conference,
Wiesbaden, Germany
September 11 – 15, 2011


http://erps.spacegrant.org/uploads/images/images/iepc_articledownload_1988-2007/2011index/IEPC-2011-277.pdf

lazlo
04-24-2012, 10:17 PM
Who cares? That has nothing to do with my point. These guys have enough funding behind this project to be taken seriously.

Sure, but 2 1/2 billionaires is not enough to fund the kind of infrastructure they're talking about Evan. Heck, I don't think the combined resources of the US, the European Space Agency, China and Japan could accomplish this task. It makes the Regan-era Star Wars program look like child's play in comparison.


Very unlikely. They have already been in business for two years.

Doing what? AFAIK, they haven't done anything except chat over a glass of expensive wine in the South Pacific :)


http://erps.spacegrant.org/uploads/images/images/iepc_articledownload_1988-2007/2011index/IEPC-2011-277.pdf

Sure, how about this one from NASA talking about the feasible of mining asteroids:


http://hdl.handle.net/2060/19790024063

"Earlier scenarios for mass-driver retrieval of asteroidal materials were tested and refined after new data were considered on mass-driver performance, favorable delta-V opportunities to earth-approaching asteroids with gravity assists, designs for mining equipment, opportunities for processing volatiles and free metals at the asteroid, mission scenarios, and parametric studies of the most significant variables.

It is concluded that the asteroid-retrieval option is competitive with the retrieval of lunar materials for space manufacturing"

Only problem is, it's from 1970 :D

Thruthefence
04-24-2012, 11:15 PM
Maybe this is all a CIA plot to bring an asteroid back and "accidentally" drop it on North Korea?

A little collateral damage to South Korea, but WTF??

philbur
04-25-2012, 04:50 AM
Have to agree with Lazlo ref. the bullsh!t detector. Although there seems to be some heavy-hitters in there, so what their angle is isn't quite clear.

Phil:)



I'd love to be proven wrong, but my bullsh!t detector is going off.

MrFluffy
04-25-2012, 05:33 AM
Dont post here much but here goes.
What everyone seems to not notice about this announcement, is the extracted materials are not going to be brought back to earth. Breaking orbit is what costs the big money and it would be uneconomic to bring it back down to terra firma.
They are going to mine it out in space, and produce rare earth elements, water and other compounds needed to build infrastructure out in space. If because of the exotic nature of the workspace, it costs $2000 to extract a litre of water, that is a HUGE cost saving against the costs of shipping some up to resupply the ISS as mentioned. And if we're going to branch out among the stars, we're going to need this in abundance in space ready without the huge lift cost for each mission.

As space exploration branches out, if ore's are discovered, hydrogen is extracted from the water by solar energy etc, the next big step might be to set up foundries and start to fabricate spacestations/ships/satelite out in space. I can imagine a scenario where nasa buys refined platinum or neodynium or steel or alloys from the consortiums material supply operation and builds their own platform in space.

And once you have *some* manufacturing equipment out in space, it bootstraps further progress without incurring the cost of lifting all the stuff out there in the first place. It might be the worlds most expensive exotic vmc knocking out spare hinge pins for the ISS locking hatches, but its got to be long term cheaper than flying things up in a hurry.

So if you were doing this, why would the existing spacex platform not be a suitable lift platform? the gear being put up is going one way, no need for a space shuttle to fly it back down after.

I think they're to be commended. Most people with that level of money in the bank go buy a private island, or a casino. They're actually trying to push advances in science and technology with it instead.

Evan
04-25-2012, 05:49 AM
Do some more reading. Their first plan isn't going out to grab asteroids. They plan on developing cheap launch capacity that can put up small, light Earth observation platforms to whomever wants one. They are aiming to cut the cost of launch capacity by a factor of ten, at least. That is entirely doable.

Have a look at the former Delta Clipper project. It was working extremely well when it was cancelled for no apparent reason. The most likely explanation was that it was a threat to the enormous government contracts of all the old and established aerospace companies. The aerospace business is about the widest and deepest pig trough there is. The last thing they want to see is cheap launch capacity. That will be the end of the gravy train.

I see no reason to do this unless they really mean to do what they say. It has no particular value as a publicity stunt and it isn't going to attract a lot of small investors. They admit they aren't going to make money any time soon. They are talking about getting launches down into the several millions range.

The original objective for the Shuttle was to orbit mass at $10 per pound. It failed miserably for a large variety of reasons not the least of which was criminal fraud as well as plain bungling incompetence. The history of the US government space program turned to a political circus the minute the "race to the Moon" was announced and Werner Von Braun was put in charge of orbital capability development. He liked great big expendable rockets no matter how much they cost. They were a huge mistake as it put an end to the real manned space program at Edwards AFB.

Since then the entire program has been hamstrung by political wrangling for a piece of the pie. That is why there has never been a shift to 5 year budgeting for NASA. That is just plain stupid. Many programs have been partially funded and then cancelled because of politics. The Delta Clipper is a good example.

The list of screwups by NASA is too long to publish here. Much of that is a result of unpredictable funding as well as a top heavy hierachy of long term bureaucratic managers and congressional meddling in matters they don't understand. Why do you think that NASA has bits and pieces of its organisation strewn all over the country?

There is so much room for improvement that there is no doubt that the price of launch capability can be dropped enormously as long as the government is kept out of the picture. If this gang can avoid dealing with the military they have a chance. Or, if they do sell to the military they sell at regular prices and specs the same as everybody else with everything at full arm's length.

Evan
04-25-2012, 06:23 AM
As space exploration branches out, if ore's are discovered,...

They already know where the good stuff is and it will be on the list to get eventually. There is a small 2 km diameter asteroid that contains nearly as much iron as has ever been mined in all history. It contains about 100 billion tonnes of metal, mostly iron, nickel and chromium. There are much larger asteroids out there that are 95% stainless steel with small amount of precious metals as well (small meaning only kilotons).

tmarks11
04-25-2012, 06:54 AM
There are much larger asteroids out there that are 95% stainless steel with small amount of precious metals as well (small meaning only kilotons).
would that be 304 or 316?

Amazing how mother nature, with millions of years of evolution experimenting to find the perfect asteroid, with all the rejects rusting away in the vacuum of space :D ...finally managed to stumble on the correct alloying percentages to achieve stainless steel....

Or we're you just remarking that these lumps of iron also had some chromium and nickel present him high concentrations? That doesn't exactly make it stainless steel. Where did the carbon come frome?

oil mac
04-25-2012, 07:16 AM
Flathead If we drink the space water they bring back, Will we end up being "Spaced Out" ? I guess some of the citizens i see hanging around the streets at present have already cottoned on to a source of it already!:D


Mr fluffy with all these large factory complexes dreamed up being constructed in space, Will the workforce be able to get into home Shop Machinist, for ideas in their leisure moments? I do not want no steenking factory crashing down on my backyard:eek:

alistair1537
04-25-2012, 07:29 AM
There are a lot of naysayers here - wake up! Technology is moving along at a much faster pace than you think. These men maybe dreamers at this point....then when you blink, they have found a way around the obstacles preventing their progress.......

Think back to the first telephones......all wired together; the telephone exchanges created the largest communications network ever - today I don't even need a landline - in how many years?

Think back to early computers - 8 mb of storage - huge - now??

Take a look at Ted.com for glimpses into new technology - it will amaze you!

flathead4
04-25-2012, 08:30 AM
I'm not saying that their proposal to mine asteroids is impossible. I am saying that their statements that they will mine platinum and make a lot of money are ridiculous. I don't think that it is okay to make ridiculous statements to get media attention. When an entrepreneur makes ridiculous statements, I put my hand on my wallet. Maybe in a few decades and if they are successful in building a fleet of mining robots, they will figure out a way to make a profit, but until then I believe it will be huge hole in space to throw money in.

Tom

toyjeep73
04-25-2012, 08:30 AM
Maybe this is all a CIA plot to bring an asteroid back and "accidentally" drop it on North Korea?

A little collateral damage to South Korea, but WTF??

It is a shame there is not a "like" button here some times. :D

SteveF
04-25-2012, 09:23 AM
There are a lot of naysayers here - wake up! Technology is moving along at a much faster pace than you think. These men maybe dreamers at this point....then when you blink, they have found a way around the obstacles preventing their progress.......



As long as those "dreamers" don't expect their fantasies to be funded with taxpayer dollars out of my pocket, I say "let them have at it".

Steve

lazlo
04-25-2012, 10:11 AM
There are a lot of naysayers here - wake up! Technology is moving along at a much faster pace than you think.

Yes, I'm often accused of being a luddite :D


These men maybe dreamers at this point....

They're executives at Google. It's not like Steven Hawking or Nikola Tesla is proposing to mine asteroids.


Take a look at Ted.com for glimpses into new technology - it will amaze you!

Even in their heyday, about 1 in 5 TED talks was really good: Steven Hawkings, Sir Ken Robinson, ... The rest are entrepreneurs pitching their latest idea (rediscovering thorium reactors, various green energy proposals, Richard Branson babbling about his success...), alternative medicine, how to be happy, marketing nuclear energy through art (seriously!:eek:).

But you can be sure that Larry Page or Eric Schmidt will be coming to a TED talk soon, pitching Planetary Resources.

As an aside, if you haven't seen it, Ridley Scott's faux 2023 Alien TED talk is outstanding! :)

http://www.youtube.com/v/v2BxH-xwc9M

Evan
04-25-2012, 11:42 AM
Or we're you just remarking that these lumps of iron also had some chromium and nickel present him high concentrations? That doesn't exactly make it stainless steel. Where did the carbon come frome?

The carbon? Same place as the carbon on Earth, a supernova. Look up "Amun stainless steel asteroid". Stainless steel is a generic term. It doesn't imply any particular alloy, of which there are many. The composition is very likely similar to the core of the Earth. We can tell the composition of the asteroids by their spectrum.

http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&safe=off&biw=1482&bih=694&q=amun+stainless+steel+asteroid&oq=amun+stainless+steel+asteroid&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_nf=1&gs_l=serp.12...272756.280162.0.283183.29.29.0.0.0. 0.931.6269.10j4j8j4j0j2j1.29.0.R0Cp5NDDlMU


When an entrepreneur makes ridiculous statements, I put my hand on my wallet. Maybe in a few decades and if they are successful in building a fleet of mining robots, they will figure out a way to make a profit, but until then I believe it will be huge hole in space to throw money in.

They aren't asking for your money, they have their own. They don't plan on making money any time soon. In fact, some of them will likely be dead before it turns a profit. That isn't their main objective anyway. These guys do not need more money. That should be obvious.

Current net worth, approximately:

Cameron 1 billion

Larry Page 19 billion

Eric Schmidt 7 billion

Ross Perot Jr. 1.5 billion

Charles Simonyi 1 billion

I'm just guessing but they might be a bit concerned that while the US no longer has manned space capability both Russia and China do.

lazlo
04-25-2012, 12:20 PM
Current net worth, approximately:

Cameron 1 billion
Larry Page 19 billion
Eric Schmidt 7 billion
Ross Perot Jr. 1.5 billion
Charles Simonyi 1 billion

Cameron isn't an investor.


I'm just guessing but they might be a bit concerned that while the US no longer has manned space capability both Russia and China do.

That's what SpaceX et al are for. They have much more reasonable (and achievable) goals.

Reminds me of Richard Branson's Galactic Cruise Line. Billionaires are funny when they're bored ;)


"Virgin Galactic Overview

Virgin Galactic is the world's first spaceline. Giving you the groundbreaking opportunity to become one of the first ever non-professional astronauts. Virgin Galactic will own and operate its privately built spaceships, modelled on the remarkable, history-making SpaceShipOne."

RancherBill
04-25-2012, 12:35 PM
This announcement is pretty exciting.


.....They don't plan on making money any time soon. In fact, some of them will likely be dead before it turns a profit.

Maybe so, but, some of the sub goals or milestones toward their final objective might yield profit. The paradigm shift from monster rockets to smaller rockets, and getting fuel from space vs bringing it with them is going to be exciting.

These interim goals are where the money is located.:)

jkilroy
04-25-2012, 12:36 PM
These guys have confused financial success with intelligence. They think that just because they are rich, that they must also be smart. There can't be any other reason right, like blind luck for example. It makes perfect sense right, I can make billions on a search engine so I am TOTALLY qualified to go into mining right? Hey, MINING IN SPACE!

They have got to be able to STOP, or at least steer, an asteroid to make any of this cost effective. You don't mine tons of nickle alloys in 15 minutes. Thats where the harvesting hydrogen comes in, they have to at least be able to strap a rocket to the damn things and alter trajectory.

Anyone else see the worlds largest lawsuit coming after this? A little screw up and you take out half a continent?

philbur
04-25-2012, 06:04 PM
In fact, some of them will likely be dead before it turns a profit.

Ya and their grandchildrens' grandchildren too.

When they publish the economics and it gets scrutinised independently by people who have in depth knowledge, maybe!

I mean, a film maker and a guy that got lucky on the Internet isn't the greatest of endorsements for such an enterprise.

Phil:)

MrFluffy
04-25-2012, 06:08 PM
Having $19 billion doesn't make you smart in every field, It does however enable you to afford smart people.

philbur
04-25-2012, 06:35 PM
Many years ago in the UK there was a guy call Clive Sinclair, he made a large fortune designing and selling a simple, low cost PC. The media proclaimed him to be a genius. Mr Sinclair believed them, so he invented an electric car for the masses and, with supreme confidence, put it into volume production. He promptly lost his large fortune, the media proclaimed him to be a fool.

How to make a small fortune, start a business you don't understand using a large fortune.

Phil:)

aboard_epsilon
04-25-2012, 06:50 PM
Many years ago in the UK there was a guy call Clive Sinclair, he made a large fortune designing and selling a simple, low cost PC. The media proclaimed him to be a genius. Mr Sinclair believed them, so he invented an electric car for the masses and, with supreme confidence, put it into volume production. He promptly lost his large fortune, the media proclaimed him to be a fool.

How to make a small fortune, start a business you don't understand using a large fortune.

Phil:)

The way things are going here , i see a good proportion of the population ..those who only have 5 miles or less to travel each day ..going out and buying mobility scooters....so his vision was too early ..his car was too low and under developed ........the mobility scooters are going to become a big thing here with the petrol prices , insurance , road tax ..and maintenance hitting new highs...and wages hitting new lows and the jobless ever growing..

a lot of them do 8mph now and have full weather protection .

so we will see what happens .

all the best...markj

Black_Moons
04-25-2012, 08:40 PM
These guys have confused financial success with intelligence. They think that just because they are rich, that they must also be smart. There can't be any other reason right, like blind luck for example. It makes perfect sense right, I can make billions on a search engine so I am TOTALLY qualified to go into mining right? Hey, MINING IN SPACE!

They have got to be able to STOP, or at least steer, an asteroid to make any of this cost effective. You don't mine tons of nickle alloys in 15 minutes. Thats where the harvesting hydrogen comes in, they have to at least be able to strap a rocket to the damn things and alter trajectory.

Anyone else see the worlds largest lawsuit coming after this? A little screw up and you take out half a continent?

Yea, But I bet they still won't get fined enough to matter and nobody in charge will be arrested.
Cough BP. Cough.

Evan
04-25-2012, 08:46 PM
They have got to be able to STOP, or at least steer, an asteroid to make any of this cost effective. You don't mine tons of nickle alloys in 15 minutes. Thats where the harvesting hydrogen comes in, they have to at least be able to strap a rocket to the damn things and alter trajectory.

These guys aren't stupid. They aren't making this up as they go along. The details have been worked out over quite a few years. In particular, solar electric plasma engines are now at a point where this is now possible. Forget ion engines, they don't have the punch. Hydrogen plasma engines are an entirely different game. They are called Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket engines, VASIMR.

The new engines have been under development for a decade and are going to be used for station keeping and reboost of the ISS. Instead of milligrams of thrust of ion engines the plasma engine has thrust measured in newtons and is scaleable to thousands of newtons with atomic power. All you need is a few hundred newtons (about 4.5 Newtons per lb of force) of thrust to move a megatonne asteroid into low Earth Orbit. It is amazing how much Delta V you can build up with an engine that runs continuously. Further, the engine runs on hydrogen and electricity. The efficiency is orders of magnitude over a chemical rocket engine.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-efficient-future-of-deep-space

http://www.adastrarocket.com/aarc/VASIMR

By using a VASIMR engine it is easily possible to build a manned spacecraft with a 39 day trip time to Mars.

See the engine firing here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrc-fP_EqF8&feature=relmfu

The fun thing about it is that it will look exactly like the engine in the first Star Wars movie. Intensely bright blue torch out the back.

dp
04-26-2012, 01:47 AM
By using a VASIMR engine it is easily possible to build a manned spacecraft with a 39 day trip time to Mars.

Seems like getting to Mars in 39 days would then take you on to Jupiter and beyond :). Unless you decelerate for half the trip which still requires a lot of energy, and you need to do it twice to get there and back. Even if you get a kick from the Moon, that would be a good trick.

Evan
04-26-2012, 03:40 AM
You can aerobrake both at Mars and Earth which saves a lot of fuel. That is standard practice ever since Apollo.

MrFluffy
04-26-2012, 04:40 AM
Many years ago in the UK there was a guy call Clive Sinclair, he made a large fortune designing and selling a simple, low cost PC. The media proclaimed him to be a genius. Mr Sinclair believed them, so he invented an electric car for the masses and, with supreme confidence, put it into volume production. He promptly lost his large fortune, the media proclaimed him to be a fool.

How to make a small fortune, start a business you don't understand using a large fortune.

Phil:)
That'll be Sir Clive sinclair, who first started out as sinclair radionics in 1961 selling hifi, calculators,radio's and scientific instruments. In 2012 Sinclair research is still going and preparing to launch the Sinclair X1 electric vehicle.

He has always been a mad inventing genius type. He happened to make a lot of money on the computers by timing, and the bulk of his fortune was lost on the TV80 portable tv, the QL computer and the C5 projects (and as noted, that was a idea too far ahead of its time it seems). Computers and Tv electronics were his field of success where he lost on the tv80 and QL in, so we can't declare he lost his entire fortune by entering into fields he didn't understand.
More like he spent his life trying new things, and some of them worked and some of them didnt. And he's still in that game.

Bad example, or maybe it isn't when you analyse it all deeper ;)

aboard_epsilon
04-26-2012, 07:28 AM
download a film called micro men ..

it's a film about Sinclair..often funny ..but covers a lot about his struggles

review

http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2009/oct/03/clive-sinclair-micro-men-alexander-armstrong

all the best.markj

flathead4
04-26-2012, 09:34 AM
I bet this isn't about making a lot of money, like they say. To me, it doesn't make sense to tow an asteroid to earth to mine the metals. Even a 2 km diameter iron asteroid. I don't think there is any shortage of iron on earth so your cost would have to be pretty low to make a profit. I think these guys want the thrill of exploring. In the back of there minds they are hoping to find some exotic compound (Star Trek "dilithium crystals" or "flubber") or maybe an artifact from an alien race; something that will make them famous. As Evan said: they have money and don't need to make a profit. One could argue that G. Marconi did not know what he was doing, but he is known as the father of long distance radio. Chris Lewicki is already introducing himself as an "asteroid miner." Time will tell.

On a personal note: I would be more excited if they had announced that they were going to use their combined wealth to tackle one of the many envorinmental issues here on earth. Too boring?

Tom

philbur
04-26-2012, 12:18 PM
Yes and one day man will mine asteroids, just not next week.

Phil:)


The way things are going here , i see a good proportion of the population ..those who only have 5 miles or less to travel each day ..going out and buying mobility scooters....so his vision was too early ..his car was too low and under developed ........the mobility scooters are going to become a big thing here with the petrol prices , insurance , road tax ..and maintenance hitting new highs...and wages hitting new lows and the jobless ever growing..

a lot of them do 8mph now and have full weather protection .

so we will see what happens .

all the best...markj

Evan
04-26-2012, 06:38 PM
The idea of fetching small near Earth asteroids sounds fantastic but it is really easier than going to the moon. Many such asteroids are in very similar orbits to the earth and at least one that is known is essentially in the same orbit as Earth. That means very little change in velocity is required to put such an asteroid in the same orbit. When it comes to moving anything in orbit to any other orbit it is all about the "Delta V" required. Delta V stands for change in velocity and that is what costs money.

What has been holding up this show for a long time is simply finding asteroids in the right orbits and small enough to be practical to move. That was and still is difficult because the asteroids small enough are also very difficult to spot. They also tend to be in orbits that mean they are rarely visible from the night side of Earth. Those sort of asteroids spend a lot of time in their orbits closer to the sun than Earth which puts them on the day side of Earth. They also have very low relative velocity to Earth which makes them hard to find by the usual techniques of watching for changes of position over short periods of time.

Much has changed in the last decade, especially with the use of adaptive mirror technology such as is used in the LINEAR telescopes run by the USAF. They are designed specifically for finding asteroids that may be a threat to planetary safety. Because of the LINEAR program we now know the orbits of enough NEA asteroids to make retrieving small asteroids feasible.

Here is some reading material:

Asteroid Retrieval Feasibility Study, Keck Institute for Space Studies, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2012) PDF 51 pages
http://www.nss.org/settlement/asteroids/Asteroid_Retrieval_Feasibility_Study_2012.pdf

Asteroid Mining: Key to the Space Economy, by Mark Sonter
http://www.nss.org/settlement/asteroids/key.html

Technologies for Asteroid Capture into Earth Orbit, by Stephen D. Covey
http://www.nss.org/settlement/asteroids/capture.html

The Technical and Economic Feasibility of Mining the Near-Earth Asteroids, by Mark Sonter (1998 Master's Thesis updated 2012) PDF 207 pages
http://www.nss.org/settlement/asteroids/MiningNearEarthAsteroids(Sonter).pdf

Resources of Near-Earth Space, Part III: Near-Earth Objects (complete online book)
http://www.nss.org/settlement/spaceresources/resources3.html

Near-Earth Asteroid Mining, by Shane D. Ross (2001) PDF 24 pages
http://www.nss.org/settlement/asteroids/NearEarthAsteroidMining(Ross2001).pdf

The Role of Near-Earth Asteroids in Long-Term Platinum Supply, by Brad R. Blair (2000) PDF 15 pages
http://www.nss.org/settlement/asteroids/RoleOfNearEarthAsteroidsInLongTermPlatinumSupply.p df