Space-Mining Company Prepares for Launch

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Space-Mining Company Prepares for Launch

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All the drama and excitement of Mass Effect's resource scanning is coming to the real world.

Galactic quantity surveyors rejoice! A Washington-based engineering firm called Planetary Resources has just secured funding to begin developing its nascent range of survey and mining vehicles intended for use on mineral-rich rocks in space. The little fleet of "low-cost, very small spacecraft" will begin life doing nothing more complicated than scanning passing asteroids for minerals, and will later graduate to more complex mining tasks. The vehicles will be available for use by private companies and government agencies alike.

Individuals investing in the company include Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Titanic 3D director James Cameron, and former Microsoft chief software architect Charles Simonyi. Armed with financial backing of this caliber, Planetary Resources co-founders Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson say that they expect to launch the company's first test-surveying mission within two years.

"If you look back historically at what has caused humanity to make its largest investments in exploration and in transportation, it has been going after resources, whether it's the Europeans going after the spice routes or the American settlers looking toward the west for gold, oil, timber or land," said Diamandis in an interview with Reuters.

"Those precious resources caused people to make huge investments in ships and railroads and pipelines," he continued. "Looking to space, everything we hold of value on Earth - metals, minerals, energy, real estate, water - is in near-infinite quantities in space. The opportunity exists to create a company whose mission is to be able to go and basically identify and access some of those resources and ultimately figure out how to make them available where they are needed."

The company, overseen at the moment by the former NASA Mars Mission manager, intends to begin full survey and mining projects on nearby asteroids within the next five to ten years. Interim projects will include developing methods for extracting water from asteroids and depositing it in orbiting fuel depots for use by NASA and others. Could they help with moon-bases? Is the future of space advancement really in the hands of private companies? Moon and Alien say hello...

Source: Huffington Post

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Makes sense to start space mining. We cant keep dragging iron out of Earth, we need to start importing some. Not like the Asteroid belt needs it as much as we do...

*reads the article*

...

*blinks twice, reads it again*

Is this really happening? Like, really? Are they really going to start this stuff in 2014?!

Wake up and smell the future. Damn this is awesome. I don't even care that this sort of thing isn't going to be profitable any time soon, just the fact that it's already starting is mindboggeling.

Commodities prices are high right now but by they time they launch they could have tumbled. I don't think its going to be economic in the next 50 years to exploit even near earth asteroids. The launch costs are just to high and the risks involved with landing minerals comes close irresponsible. The only way to make it worth while is to launch 10s tons which will be moving at 25000 mph. Get the re-entry wrong and say goodbye to a major city.

gigastar:
Makes sense to start space mining. We cant keep dragging iron out of Earth, we need to start importing some. Not like the Asteroid belt needs it as much as we do...

Err precisely where do you think the iron has gone? As far as I am aware it hasn't left the planet. In fact the total launch weight of things shot in to space and didn't come back down can't be more than 10k tons. Far less than the accumulation of iron from meteorites over the last 30 thousand years.

maybe they should focus on reclaiming the space garbage around earth first...

albino boo:
Commodities prices are high right now but by they time they launch they could have tumbled. I don't think its going to be economic in the next 50 years to exploit even near earth asteroids. The launch costs are just to high and the risks involved with landing minerals comes close irresponsible. The only way to make it worth while is to launch 10s tons which will be moving at 25000 mph. Get the re-entry wrong and say goodbye to a major city.

This. Sure its a nice idea but nowhere near practical until we find a cheaper way to get things into and out of space.

Can't wait until we discover the archives on Mars! :D
Or moon rocks to grind into white moon gel for portals!

OT: Sounds awesome, but I doubt we will find anything "worthwhile" in the start, gonna take a while to get the good stuff...whatever that is.

Well, given that Governments around the world seem uninterested in giving Space Exploration the funding it really needs, Private Companies are a lot better than the alternative. Plus, once there's a profit in it, we'll see large leaps in Space Technology, which is better for everyone.

albino boo:
Commodities prices are high right now but by they time they launch they could have tumbled. I don't think its going to be economic in the next 50 years to exploit even near earth asteroids. The launch costs are just to high and the risks involved with landing minerals comes close irresponsible. The only way to make it worth while is to launch 10s tons which will be moving at 25000 mph. Get the re-entry wrong and say goodbye to a major city.

Commodity prices are unlikely to fall by any substantial amounts in the future, as the easy to mine materials are going to be harder and harder to find as time goes on. And while launch costs are indeed high, the risks of landing materials is nowhere near as bad as you think. Re-entry calculations are not very difficult to do, and there's more than enough uninhabited area's on the planet to drop things safely.

In any case, their mining plans are not their main focus at the moment. For now, they plan to survey what's orbiting us, to find out if there's enough stuff up there to make mining worth it.

I think this will be a wonderful idea for building projects on the moon and in earth orbit, since launching materials into orbit is expensive. If they get manufacturing facilities into orbit, they are looking at the platform from which to launch the next wave into further development, with larger vehicles and probes possible and cheaper.

albino boo:

gigastar:
Makes sense to start space mining. We cant keep dragging iron out of Earth, we need to start importing some. Not like the Asteroid belt needs it as much as we do...

Err precisely where do you think the iron has gone? As far as I am aware it hasn't left the planet. In fact the total launch weight of things shot in to space and didn't come back down can't be more than 10k tons. Far less than the accumulation of iron from meteorites over the last 30 thousand years.

True that the iron isnt really going anywhere, but we are using it. Its not like when someone needs some more iron theres always going to be someone who doesnt need it anymore.

And strictly speaking it doesnt just apply to iron. Several commonplace metals are going up in price because its getting harder to find fresh supplies on Earth.

What would a job application look like?

Do you play eve? Yes

What role do you play? Miner

You're hired!

A part of me is really excited by the prospects of waking up in 60 to 70 years from now and watching a news story about the implications of strip-mining Luna. The idea of mining asteroids is an awesome one but I can't wait to see how environmental activists will evolve from here on out. We probably won't see anything too crazy until someone tries mining Haley's Comet.

I know something? I just love scanning for minerals... minerals... you tiny little minerals....you precious little minerals... where are you little minerals?"

And thus, shooting for Moon finally began. I'll get Sam Rockwell, someone start up Lunar Industries. We require more minerals!

that is so cool! we could find new chemicals! new stuff!

Shoggoth2588:
We probably won't see anything too crazy until someone tries mining Haley's Comet.

Is that feasibly possible? To mine something that continuously moves at great speeds around the universe? Who would fund that project and really expect positive results?

OT: Hell yes. It's about time someone decided to start looking to outer space for stuff. One step closer to our colony on Mars...

I really hope they get good results to pay back their investors. Maybe a world like Star Trek isn't so far away.

Captcha: time lord.

Shhhh! That's a secret!

This is great and about fucking time we started with this! I made a thread about this earlier today and watched the livestream.
It's really exciting stuff. Also, it actually may be not as expensive as some think.
The way NASA handles things is unbelievably inefficient. The way these people plan to do this is comparably cheaper. If it goes according to plan, they'll be much more efficient than NASA ever was. They're also only going to use robots for now which has many advantages over using astronauts.
There are other things to consider. For example, there are a lot of Near Earth Objects which are easier to reach than the moon's surface and we went there decades ago with the help of computers which were vastly inferior than the one I carry around in my pocket!

They said that a single platinum-rich asteroid, which is about 500km wide, has the same amount or even more platinum that we've ever mined on earth. Just one big, rich asteroid would give you probably a few trillions. A study conducted by NASA and others says that it's pretty feasible. Mining an asteroid for "only" 2.6 billions.
Of course the initial costs are going to be higher but they'll drop over time.

For now, the most valuable resource to gather from asteroids will be water. It a great fuel and in more quantities available on asteroids than we'll need. They want to build galactic "gas stations". That would be incredibly useful for deep-space explorations and we wouldn't have to transport the water from earth.
The other valuable resource will be metals, to be more precise the platinum-group metals (platinum, palladium, iridium etc.). Like I said, they're in high concentrations on asteroids and actually easier to reach. Because earth had to cool down much longer, all the heavy metals have sunk far down. Some platinum-group metal resources only exist on earth's crust because of constant meteor crashes on earth over the millions of years.
This could lead to machines being built in space instead of making on earth. No pesky and expensive gravity to overcome there.

Of course that's all a long way off but not as impossible and far away as some might think. My biggest hope is that this will attract many companies at some point and they're going to try and be competitive, which will lead to great innovations in space exploration. Ahh, greed, what a great propellant for innovations.

Anyway, this is all very early speculation and a bit dreaming. News like this always make me a bit dreamy.

Let's just hope none of the companies will start calling themself Weyland-Yutani Corporation.

All we need now is the advent of transhumanism and the singularity. Then its the future baby!

Just imagine croytech advances combined with posible biological and technological immortality, or life extention, with advancment in space travel also this would lead to the beggining of the homo novus(or spapien) galactic empire. It will be amazing to behold, I hope I am able to witness it.

Hevva:
Is the future of space advancement really in the hands of private companies? Moon and Alien say hello...

We now return you to your lunar eclipse, brought to you by Google/Wal-Mart.

Desworks:

Commodity prices are unlikely to fall by any substantial amounts in the future, as the easy to mine materials are going to be harder and harder to find as time goes on. And while launch costs are indeed high, the risks of landing materials is nowhere near as bad as you think. Re-entry calculations are not very difficult to do, and there's more than enough uninhabited area's on the planet to drop things safely.

This isn't the first time in recent history the commodity prices have rocketed. In the mid 70s your saw similar profiles. High oil prices in the wake of the Yom Kippur war drove up had a knock on effect across most areas. Gold and silver was driven up by investors seeking safe havens in difficult economic times. There where people making the same argument that you have put forward then, yet 10 years later all those prices had tumbled. The main drivers for commodities now are unrest in the middle east, investors seeking value and Chinese manufacturing. The only difference between now and the 70s is Chinese manufacturing, however the demand form China is likely to drop. The Chinese government has recognized that they are at the top of bubble currently and are trying to engineer a soft landing.

gigastar:

True that the iron isnt really going anywhere, but we are using it. Its not like when someone needs some more iron theres always going to be someone who doesnt need it anymore.

And strictly speaking it doesnt just apply to iron. Several commonplace metals are going up in price because its getting harder to find fresh supplies on Earth.

This brings me on to my second point. Which is cheaper recycling minerals already extracted, or lunching robots travailing at 25000 mph, moving 1/2 million miles, mining a 2 ton asteroid, repeat until you have a few tons, then launching5 tons of iron back at Earth and losing 2/3 of mass on rentry. This isn't hydrocarbons we are talking about here its basic elements. The reason why iron is more common than than gold is due the laws of physics, the heaver the element the less of it of created by fusion in stars or by super novas. Yes there are vast quantities of minerals out there but they are going to be in roughly the same distribution you find on Earth. In other words you going to find vastly more iron than you are gold. Even at todays prices iron ore is dirt cheap. Even if you do find a 20 ton lump of pure gold, what do think that's going to do the price of gold? The markets can respond quicker than you can get the gold on the ground. The more you find the less its worth.

This is all well and good, but when are we finally gonna figure out how to build a safe space elevator?

Robert Ewing:
What would a job application look like?

Do you play eve? Yes

What role do you play? Miner

You're hired!

That's what we need, goonswarm creating a real life Hulkageddon.

One great offshoot of the project is all of multiple surveying telescopes placed in orbit will increase the chance of early detection of potential earth striking asteroids.

Well we are running out of helium. Makes sense, I guess and anything that furthers space exploration is aces in my book.

As a side note, If the article picture came in a higher definition, I would totally use it as my wallpaper. EDI must've had some kind of cyber aneurysm doing that.

Idea for free labor: give control of these mining-bots over to video gamers. Bam.

I, for one, would love to scan some asteroids for minerals, even if it's something like examining raw data and reporting on that.

It'd be like that genome-game except more awesome.

Jymm:
One great offshoot of the project is all of multiple surveying telescopes placed in orbit will increase the chance of early detection of potential earth striking asteroids.

i still doubt it, we are so terrible at it, only a few years ago an (all life on earth ending size) asteroid want past earth, really really really really close, and we only noticed it after it went by

albino boo:

This brings me on to my second point. Which is cheaper recycling minerals already extracted, or lunching robots travailing at 25000 mph, moving 1/2 million miles, mining a 2 ton asteroid, repeat until you have a few tons, then launching5 tons of iron back at Earth and losing 2/3 of mass on rentry. This isn't hydrocarbons we are talking about here its basic elements. The reason why iron is more common than than gold is due the laws of physics, the heaver the element the less of it of created by fusion in stars or by super novas. Yes there are vast quantities of minerals out there but they are going to be in roughly the same distribution you find on Earth. In other words you going to find vastly more iron than you are gold. Even at todays prices iron ore is dirt cheap. Even if you do find a 20 ton lump of pure gold, what do think that's going to do the price of gold? The markets can respond quicker than you can get the gold on the ground. The more you find the less its worth.

We aren't talking about iron or gold, though. We're talking about nickel and phosphorous and argon and tritium and a bunch of other stuff that is heading towards limited supply.

There was a great article I read not too long ago about some of the elements we use for electronics that is running desperately low but is found in great abundance in asteroids, if only I could find it.

albino boo:

gigastar:

True that the iron isnt really going anywhere, but we are using it. Its not like when someone needs some more iron theres always going to be someone who doesnt need it anymore.

And strictly speaking it doesnt just apply to iron. Several commonplace metals are going up in price because its getting harder to find fresh supplies on Earth.

This brings me on to my second point. Which is cheaper recycling minerals already extracted, or lunching robots travailing at 25000 mph, moving 1/2 million miles, mining a 2 ton asteroid, repeat until you have a few tons, then launching5 tons of iron back at Earth and losing 2/3 of mass on rentry. This isn't hydrocarbons we are talking about here its basic elements. The reason why iron is more common than than gold is due the laws of physics, the heaver the element the less of it of created by fusion in stars or by super novas. Yes there are vast quantities of minerals out there but they are going to be in roughly the same distribution you find on Earth. In other words you going to find vastly more iron than you are gold. Even at todays prices iron ore is dirt cheap. Even if you do find a 20 ton lump of pure gold, what do think that's going to do the price of gold? The markets can respond quicker than you can get the gold on the ground. The more you find the less its worth.

Keep in mind, though, that recycling processes can only go so far. What exploring and surveying for mineral sources off of our planet leads to an effective *long term* solution. We have to do this at some point. Minerals within our own planet, and the recylcing of such, will become steadily more limited and harder to achieve. It's like you're stuck on an island, and have to use the materials of the island over and over. You'll only go so far before the quantity and quality decays to a point where its unsustainable. In this case, our planet is the island. It's amazing folks are pursuing this technological avenue now, because the sooner we start on it then the better all around in terms of our situation. Our planet's geology is very limited in some respects, especially those that can be shored up by the geology of those asteriods and the like up there in space. So yeah, startin' now on pursuing this technology will be amazing for the long term situation, and even further advances in space.

what? no one is going to say we finally get the chance to probe uranus?
what is wrong with this generation?

anyway

is the future of space advancement really in the hands of private companies?
yes. sadly if they dont do it we will never see it be done.
goverments like to spend materials on things that go boom rather than things that go wow.

I'm going to be the

Dastardly:

Hevva:
Is the future of space advancement really in the hands of private companies? Moon and Alien say hello...

We now return you to your lunar eclipse, brought to you by Google/Wal-Mart.

Not only that, the article mentioned the running of the railroads, which was a source of major exploitation and worker mistreatment by the railroad companies, which was the same time the coal mining industry was mistreating its workers. People don't remember history where those companies were sending strike breakers and others to murder and harass organizers who were trying to get better pay and working conditions.

A corporate future is a despotic future.

"I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half."
-Jay Gould (1836-1882), American Railroad Industrialist

I'd still want to pilot a future ship, haha.

YES! We are finally going where no man has gone before! We are exploring space...the final frontier! In an extended length of time we wil explore galaxies far far away! I don't have any more space references but trust me, the awesomeness of space missions...the awesomeness of space missions never changes.

seriously though, EPIC!

chadachada123:

albino boo:

This brings me on to my second point. Which is cheaper recycling minerals already extracted, or lunching robots travailing at 25000 mph, moving 1/2 million miles, mining a 2 ton asteroid, repeat until you have a few tons, then launching5 tons of iron back at Earth and losing 2/3 of mass on rentry. This isn't hydrocarbons we are talking about here its basic elements. The reason why iron is more common than than gold is due the laws of physics, the heaver the element the less of it of created by fusion in stars or by super novas. Yes there are vast quantities of minerals out there but they are going to be in roughly the same distribution you find on Earth. In other words you going to find vastly more iron than you are gold. Even at todays prices iron ore is dirt cheap. Even if you do find a 20 ton lump of pure gold, what do think that's going to do the price of gold? The markets can respond quicker than you can get the gold on the ground. The more you find the less its worth.

We aren't talking about iron or gold, though. We're talking about nickel and phosphorous and argon and tritium and a bunch of other stuff that is heading towards limited supply.

There was a great article I read not too long ago about some of the elements we use for electronics that is running desperately low but is found in great abundance in asteroids, if only I could find it.

Ya they aren't really concerned about iron or gold. They are more concerned about water and then various platinum metals that can ONLY be found in asteroids.

Am I'm only one concerned here?
Asteroid belt of solar system serves as a shield for Earth
Mining them would be risky

I am giddy with excitement. I never thought that they would start on this so soon.
Humanity. FUCK YEAH!

If anyone is interested, they did a conference on this:

this is only the first part.

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