Congress Passes SPACE Act To Support Asteroid Mining

Congress Passes SPACE Act To Support Asteroid Mining

The United States Congress has passed a bill which allows companies to pursue resource gathering missions in outer space.

At this point, it's absolutely clear humans will soon get back to space exploration missions - the real questions are when and how. Which makes the SPACE Act of 2015 worth paying attention to. This new bill aims to regulate the commercial space industry, address the role of the International Space Station, and allow companies to legally own resources obtained from asteroids. But the most important detail? This bill has passed in the United States' Congress, and just needs to be signed by President Barack Obama to become law.

"Commercial space exploration presents important new opportunities for us all," Senator Ted Cruz said. Cruz is one of the bill's authors and a chairman for the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Space, and Competitiveness.00

The SPACE Act is the first bill to reframe space industry regulations in ten years, so it has quite a bit of ground to cover. For example, Section 1 addresses safety regulations which cover the entire space industry. It also extends American use of the International Space Station until 2024.

But the most significant details are rules for asteroid mining. The SPACE Act effectively grants companies full rights over any resources they acquire from space, but doesn't offer them any claim on property rights. In short, companies own what they find on asteroids, but can't actually develop long-term settlements there. Presumably a separate colonization bill would need to address those matters, which obviously has its own set of unique concerns.

One last matter worth considering is regulation, or more specifically, how there won't be any right away. The SPACE Act gives companies a "learning period" of eight years before the Federal Aviation Administration steps in with its own recommendations. To be fair, space missions take a long time to plan, so you shouldn't expect corporations to rush into space and wage asteroid wars the moment Obama signs this into law. But space companies will probably forge their own policies which the FAA will take into account on Oct. 1, 2023.

While there are still gaps the bill doesn't cover, it's absolutely necessary given how many space exploration companies are itching to go to space. "We've seen a rapid increase in the numbers of space companies," US Representative of Rockledge Bill Posey explained, "and they're developing new technologies every single day, in a race to the stars." So if this bill kicks off a new space race, we could be in for an incredibly exciting decade.

Source: Tech Times

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There are like a billion Space Enginners jokes Icould make right now

Funny how when it comes to the needs of private interest groups our government is Johnny on the spot. They're transparent all right. Just in all the wrong ways.

To be honest I don't see how the US congress has the authority to grant ownership over any resources that companies acquire from space. They simply don't have jurisdiction over the rest of the solar system to grant anything. Sovereignty would have to be established first.

The cost of returning any significant mass to Earth just this makes uneconomic. Minerals just don't exist in high quantities to make mining worth while. The 15th century voyages of discovery were made on the backs 10,000% profits on investment, that kind of profit isn't there

albino boo:
To be honest I don't see how the US congress has the authority to grant ownership over any resources that companies acquire from space. They simply don't have jurisdiction over the rest of the solar system to grant anything. Sovereignty would have to be established first.

The US Congress having authority depends on you look at it. Obviously it hardly matters in the grand scope of things, but if we're talking about US companies competing with other US companies, then both are subject to US laws and US congress obviously has the authority to dictate what US companies can and can not do.

When you start taking other nations, non-US corporations, or eventual non-Earth based corporations into account, this won't be especially relevant on it's own.

albino boo:
To be honest I don't see how the US congress has the authority to grant ownership over any resources that companies acquire from space. They simply don't have jurisdiction over the rest of the solar system to grant anything. Sovereignty would have to be established first.

The cost of returning any significant mass to Earth just this makes uneconomic. Minerals just don't exist in high quantities to make mining worth while. The 15th century voyages of discovery were made on the backs 10,000% profits on investment, that kind of profit isn't there

Anything mined in space belongs to who mined it according to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. You don't own the asteroid but anything you dig out of it is yours. So if an asteroid had something we wanted we could mine it but we couldn't stop others from setting up a mine next door.

"When deep space exploration ramps up, it'll be the corporations that name everything, the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks." ― Chuck Palahniuk

It's an encouraging start, this sort of thing ideally should be run by international treaty. I like the idea that the Law of High Seas should apply to space, international waters are very similar in that sense so the same rules could apply: essentially, every spaceship is under the jurisdiction of the flag state it is registered with. This is already effectively the case under the Outer Space Treaty. Any nation has jurisdiction to deal with space pirates etc. There's even an organisation called ISA set up to deal with mining in international waters, wouldn't be too hard to replicate that for space mining.

it is kind of weird that countries like the USA and and groups like the UN are trying to regulate the vastness of the cosmos like they own it. i get laws to stop countries say putting nukes into orbit but saying they have the right to rule a colony on mars or an asteroid mining post set up by an independent group is a bit much

frankly if some group with the resources and means set up a permanent colony that refused to recognise any earth governing body there is bugger all anyone could do about it. its not like any government would spend the resources to do anything other than strongly worded UN resolutions

if we do go into space properly its only a matter of time before someone declares independence

pookie101:
it is kind of weird that countries like the USA and and groups like the UN are trying to regulate the vastness of the cosmos like they own it. i get laws to stop countries say putting nukes into orbit but saying they have the right to rule a colony on mars or an asteroid mining post set up by an independent group is a bit much

frankly if some group with the resources and means set up a permanent colony that refused to recognise any earth governing body there is bugger all anyone could do about it. its not like any government would spend the resources to do anything other than strongly worded UN resolutions

if we do go into space properly its only a matter of time before someone declares independence

I don't know... I feel like any colony is going to need huge amount of support from earth. Until we can get planets terraformed, which will take a very long time, and will require huge amounts of earth support, supplies are going to be required on a really large scale, making independence largely impossible.

This just makes me think of Red Dwarf.

well, this is a good thing for space exploration, find a large enough stock of oil, diamonds, gold etc, we will find cheaper ways of exploring space

They keep what they find, but they have to get out there and stake a claim first.

P-89 Scorpion:

Anything mined in space belongs to who mined it according to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. You don't own the asteroid but anything you dig out of it is yours. So if an asteroid had something we wanted we could mine it but we couldn't stop others from setting up a mine next door.

Where does it say that?
I read the space treaty and no where in the text does it ever say anything along those lines.

Haha, am I the only one that finds it ridiculous that the US Government is giving anyone permission to harvest resources from the place that is the most outside it's borders than any other place we know of.

9tailedflame:

pookie101:
it is kind of weird that countries like the USA and and groups like the UN are trying to regulate the vastness of the cosmos like they own it. i get laws to stop countries say putting nukes into orbit but saying they have the right to rule a colony on mars or an asteroid mining post set up by an independent group is a bit much

frankly if some group with the resources and means set up a permanent colony that refused to recognise any earth governing body there is bugger all anyone could do about it. its not like any government would spend the resources to do anything other than strongly worded UN resolutions

if we do go into space properly its only a matter of time before someone declares independence

I don't know... I feel like any colony is going to need huge amount of support from earth. Until we can get planets terraformed, which will take a very long time, and will require huge amounts of earth support, supplies are going to be required on a really large scale, making independence largely impossible.

Except that any corporation is well within it's rights to own all the supplies necessary to support said venture. The US government can't technically take that away from them.

albino boo:
To be honest I don't see how the US congress has the authority to grant ownership over any resources that companies acquire from space. They simply don't have jurisdiction over the rest of the solar system to grant anything. Sovereignty would have to be established first.

The cost of returning any significant mass to Earth just this makes uneconomic. Minerals just don't exist in high quantities to make mining worth while. The 15th century voyages of discovery were made on the backs 10,000% profits on investment, that kind of profit isn't there

Interesting that you parallel this to the great journeys of yesteryear when doing inevitably led things to where they are now. True, a great deal of hardship, unfair treatment, and death plagued it all the way through. Nevertheless, this is our history and being this advanced and powerful would not happen without the history we have of going out there and doing stuff. Such is life, no?

OT: My inner reaction...

Though, we really should be trying to pull Helium-3 from the moon, if possible.

albino boo:
To be honest I don't see how the US congress has the authority to grant ownership over any resources that companies acquire from space. They simply don't have jurisdiction over the rest of the solar system to grant anything. Sovereignty would have to be established first.

The cost of returning any significant mass to Earth just this makes uneconomic. Minerals just don't exist in high quantities to make mining worth while. The 15th century voyages of discovery were made on the backs 10,000% profits on investment, that kind of profit isn't there

Eh, according to the official government site, the relevant portion is:

"Any asteroid resources obtained in outer space are the property of the entity that obtained them, which shall be entitled to all property rights to them, consistent with applicable federal law and existing international obligations."

Which takes into consideration international rights, and helps with some of the "duh" moments in law. It'd be rather bad if companies didn't have any legal right to the materials, because they could be confiscated at any moment by others. I don't see what's wrong with giving companies the legal right to the stuff that they mine.

The costs of returning minerals will go down with time. Plus, the cost is severely decreased if there's no requirement to bring it to the surface. Leaving it in space and building in orbit would be much, much cheaper, as an example.

Fanghawk:
The SPACE Act effectively grants companies full rights over any resources they acquire from space, but doesn't offer them any claim on property rights. In short, companies own what they find on asteroids, but can't actually develop long-term settlements there. Presumably a separate colonization bill would need to address those matters, which obviously has its own set of unique concerns.

thats actually quite good in my opinion. companies can mine asteroids but they cannot claim them, so they cannot monopolize the most profitable asteroids.

One last matter worth considering is regulation, or more specifically, how there won't be any right away. The SPACE Act gives companies a "learning period" of eight years before the Federal Aviation Administration steps in with its own recommendations.

translation: companies are given 8 years to bribe FAA.

albino boo:

The cost of returning any significant mass to Earth just this makes uneconomic. Minerals just don't exist in high quantities to make mining worth while. The 15th century voyages of discovery were made on the backs 10,000% profits on investment, that kind of profit isn't there

not necessarily so. minerals that are considered rare on earth can be found in quite large concentrations in space sometimes. of course we may have a problem of a market crash here like when aluminium manufacturing was discovered, but we found great ways to use that to our benefit. the first person to organize the asteroid mining operation is going to be raking in cash.

Baresark:

Except that any corporation is well within it's rights to own all the supplies necessary to support said venture. The US government can't technically take that away from them.

the corporation is under the jurisdiction of the country it is set up in (lets assume US for now). therefore, US govenrment has direct jurisdiction over said company and thus can do whatever the fuck they want with it.

FalloutJack:

Interesting that you parallel this to the great journeys of yesteryear when doing inevitably led things to where they are now. True, a great deal of hardship, unfair treatment, and death plagued it all the way through. Nevertheless, this is our history and being this advanced and powerful would not happen without the history we have of going out there and doing stuff. Such is life, no?

All I'm saying that the past voyages of discovery were not done for noble motives but for vast profits. There simply isn't the money in space to encourage national or private expenditure on space exploration.

Strazdas:

Not necessarily so. minerals that are considered rare on earth can be found in quite large concentrations in space sometimes. of course we may have a problem of a market crash here like when aluminium manufacturing was discovered, but we found great ways to use that to our benefit. the first person to organize the asteroid mining operation is going to be raking in cash.

Lets look at the figures. Nasa has just spent $671 million on getting a 65 kg satellite into orbit around Mars. The cost of gold per kg is $34000. So 65x 34000 = 2210000, the cost of the mission is roughly 3 times its weight in gold. Bear in mind that the large asteroids are further away and are not made of solid gold and you have to price in a return trip and atmospheric shielding, you don't make money.

albino boo:

Lets look at the figures. Nasa has just spent $671 million on getting a 65 kg satellite into orbit around Mars. The cost of gold per kg is $34000. So 65x 34000 = 2210000, the cost of the mission is roughly 3 times its weight in gold. Bear in mind that the large asteroids are further away and are not made of solid gold and you have to price in a return trip and atmospheric shielding, you don't make money.

your calculations are running under flawed assumption.
1. Mining equipment may be cheaper than a space sattelite.
2. For examples sake lets say we use a 65 KG Mining equipment droid. This only means that 65 KG had to go up into space. this is not the mass that is going to go down. the asteroid part being brought down will likely be measured in tons, not kilograms. Landing something may also be cheaper than lifting off, because you only need to counter the gravity enough not to burn the craft up instead of not only countering the gravity completely but also propeling it above that force. you are also allowed to use things like parachutes which are relatively very cheap compared to slowing down using rockets. you can even use the friction of asteroid itself as part of the stopping power.
3. there are quite a lot of asteroids between us and Mars. they just arent all that interesting, or discovered. we actually havent discovered half of asteroids around us. Aiming for smaller asteroids also means you need less energy to mine/propell it.
4. It may be possible to refine the material in space so you would only have to land pure product. Alternatively, moon could be used as a rest stop for a refinery. due to its low gravity and no atmosphere, it is much more easier to land and lift off there.
5. expenses of space operation are currently highly increased due to pretty much every craft being unique and designed as a new project. reusable craft that can be mass produced will be much cheaper and thats whats going to happen if we are going to be mining space.

id be much more worried not about profitability but about mass added to earth. if we add too much mass we may affect the gravity enough to kick earth into spiral orbit towards sun. of course, thats going to take decades if not centuries to do.

Strazdas:

5. expenses of space operation are currently highly increased due to pretty much every craft being unique and designed as a new project. reusable craft that can be mass produced will be much cheaper and thats whats going to happen if we are going to be mining space.

To add to this, bills like this one will help incentivize companies to put their resources into inventing and investing in space exploration, therefore drastically decreasing the cost of space exploration across the board and making it safer, more practical, faster, and more reliable at the same time. It's obviously not profitable NOW to mine resources in space, but give it a few decades of dedication it will become so in the future.

Strazdas:

albino boo:

Lets look at the figures. Nasa has just spent $671 million on getting a 65 kg satellite into orbit around Mars. The cost of gold per kg is $34000. So 65x 34000 = 2210000, the cost of the mission is roughly 3 times its weight in gold. Bear in mind that the large asteroids are further away and are not made of solid gold and you have to price in a return trip and atmospheric shielding, you don't make money.

your calculations are running under flawed assumption.
1. Mining equipment may be cheaper than a space sattelite.
2. For examples sake lets say we use a 65 KG Mining equipment droid. This only means that 65 KG had to go up into space. this is not the mass that is going to go down. the asteroid part being brought down will likely be measured in tons, not kilograms. Landing something may also be cheaper than lifting off, because you only need to counter the gravity enough not to burn the craft up instead of not only countering the gravity completely but also propeling it above that force. you are also allowed to use things like parachutes which are relatively very cheap compared to slowing down using rockets. you can even use the friction of asteroid itself as part of the stopping power.
3. there are quite a lot of asteroids between us and Mars. they just arent all that interesting, or discovered. we actually havent discovered half of asteroids around us. Aiming for smaller asteroids also means you need less energy to mine/propell it.
4. It may be possible to refine the material in space so you would only have to land pure product. Alternatively, moon could be used as a rest stop for a refinery. due to its low gravity and no atmosphere, it is much more easier to land and lift off there.
5. expenses of space operation are currently highly increased due to pretty much every craft being unique and designed as a new project. reusable craft that can be mass produced will be much cheaper and thats whats going to happen if we are going to be mining space.

id be much more worried not about profitability but about mass added to earth. if we add too much mass we may affect the gravity enough to kick earth into spiral orbit towards sun. of course, thats going to take decades if not centuries to do.

Ok lets look at more numbers. The highest concentration of iridium ever found in an meteorite is 4.47 ppm. So to mine 1 kg of iridium you would need to extract and process 4.47 million kgs or 40000 tons of asteroid. I strongly doubt that you could do that from 65 kg of mining equipment. Furthermore the cost of Iridium is only $4200 per kg, its simply more expensive than current methods of iridium extraction. Currently iridium is extracted from the by products of millions tons of copper ore refining each year. So Iridium does not require separate mining to produce.

albino boo:

Ok lets look at more numbers. The highest concentration of iridium ever found in an meteorite is 4.47 ppm. So to mine 1 kg of iridium you would need to extract and process 4.47 million kgs or 400,000 tons of asteroid. I strongly doubt that you could do that from 65 kg of mining equipment. Furthermore the cost of Iridium is only $4200 per kg, its simply more expensive than current methods of iridium extraction. Currently iridium is extracted from the by products of millions tons of copper ore refining each year. So Iridium does not require separate mining to produce.

we got enough iridium here on earth. you are much better off mining other metals in space.

but ok, lets try Iridium.

First, in our solar system, iridium is 5 times more abundant in comparison to earths crust. so that 4.47 turns into a minimum of 20, realistically far more if we are going for asteroids that are rich with it and not diluted by being on earth for millions of years. in general, asteroid concentration is far larger because it didnt had the weathering effects of being inside a living planet.

so to mine 1 Kg of iridium you would actually only need (1/(20/1000000))= 50.000KGs, or 50 tons.

secondly, your prices are also incorrect. Iridium is 4200 per 100g, not kg, so thats 42000 per KG.

but yes, like i said, iridium is a bad example because we dont actually lack it on earth. We do lack, top pick example you used, good quality gold. gold is very useful in electronics due to its good conductivity and longevity. there is gold in pretty much every electronic item you have. though mostly low quality industrial one because good quality one is expensive.

Lets pick another example: Helium 3. a material we are lacking. It is valued at over 1000 dollars per gram and can be used to provide clean energy and a lot of other stuff.

Its abundance on earth is around 2 parts per million, while on the moon it is 50 parts per million. In space it is believed to be 300 parts per million - 150 times more than on earth.

This means that to extract 1 g(1000 dollars) of He3 you need only 3.3KG of the stuff. Lets assume we land an asteroid equivalent to previuos example: 50 tons. that would mean that we would have 15 KG of He3, worth 15 million dollars. And thats if we assume average concentration instead of high concentration asteroid mining.

Strazdas:

we got enough iridium here on earth. you are much better off mining other metals in space.

but ok, lets try Iridium.

First, in our solar system, iridium is 5 times more abundant in comparison to earths crust. so that 4.47 turns into a minimum of 20, realistically far more if we are going for asteroids that are rich with it and not diluted by being on earth for millions of years. in general, asteroid concentration is far larger because it didnt had the weathering effects of being inside a living planet.

so to mine 1 Kg of iridium you would actually only need (1/(20/1000000))= 50.000KGs, or 50 tons.

secondly, your prices are also incorrect. Iridium is 4200 per 100g, not kg, so thats 42000 per KG.

but yes, like i said, iridium is a bad example because we dont actually lack it on earth. We do lack, top pick example you used, good quality gold. gold is very useful in electronics due to its good conductivity and longevity. there is gold in pretty much every electronic item you have. though mostly low quality industrial one because good quality one is expensive.

Lets pick another example: Helium 3. a material we are lacking. It is valued at over 1000 dollars per gram and can be used to provide clean energy and a lot of other stuff.

Its abundance on earth is around 2 parts per million, while on the moon it is 50 parts per million. In space it is believed to be 300 parts per million - 150 times more than on earth.

This means that to extract 1 g(1000 dollars) of He3 you need only 3.3KG of the stuff. Lets assume we land an asteroid equivalent to previuos example: 50 tons. that would mean that we would have 15 KG of He3, worth 15 million dollars. And thats if we assume average concentration instead of high concentration asteroid mining.

You made a false assumption. Iridium concentration on Earth's crust is 0.001 ppm. So average concentration in space is only 0.005 ppm. The start point for my calculation was a meteorite with highest concentration ever found of Iridium. I was making the best case scenario in which a large asteroid was found with with 894 times the average ppm.

Now moving a long to your He3. To process for extraction of He3 requires 1000s of high rpm gas centrifuges each weighing well over 1 ton. Furthermore these centrifuges need to sited exactly level as any imbalance will cause the centrifuge to fly apart. Then there is the gigawatts of power required to run them for months. Again it's simpler and cheaper to bombard Lithium with neutrons to create He3 or extract He3 from the primary coolant of heavy water PWR reactors.

Strazdas:
snip

Baresark:

Except that any corporation is well within it's rights to own all the supplies necessary to support said venture. The US government can't technically take that away from them.

the corporation is under the jurisdiction of the country it is set up in (lets assume US for now). therefore, US govenrment has direct jurisdiction over said company and thus can do whatever the fuck they want with it.

Well, no, not technically according to the rules. The US Government cannot do anything so long as that company is not harming anyone and it paying it's taxes. I mean, we could argue about what is possible all day long, but I'm talking about what is strictly in the realm of the rules as they stand now. My point was also that a government isn't necessary for such an endeavor. Not that the US government couldn't wrongfully and amorally use it's monopoly on violence and use of force to do whatever it wants.

And yes, a company must follow the rules of the country in which it resides. But those companies are not powerless, as a matter of fact you can easily argue that a massively rich company has more power than anyone else in a country like the US.

albino boo:
No profit?

Au contrare! Space is the ultimate possibility, but because it is much greater in size than any continent on this planet and much further away, the amount of money you have to sink into it in order to get the return invetment WILL be dramatically larger. What you forget is that the return is that if we were, say, to indeed start mining a planetoid (an asteroid of significant size) for resources, we do get it all. It's a dead rock in space. No environmental concerns, no possibility of infringing on another lifeform's lifestyle, no nothing. Just the drills and regular deliveries of material to planet Earth until basically the giant space rock is finished. And that's just a giant space rock. There's whole worlds of diamond out there. And while coveting that would devalue the diamond as valuable jewelry, we cannot forget the industrial use of said diamonds.

FalloutJack:

albino boo:
No profit?

Au contrare! Space is the ultimate possibility, but because it is much greater in size than any continent on this planet and much further away, the amount of money you have to sink into it in order to get the return invetment WILL be dramatically larger. What you forget is that the return is that if we were, say, to indeed start mining a planetoid (an asteroid of significant size) for resources, we do get it all. It's a dead rock in space. No environmental concerns, no possibility of infringing on another lifeform's lifestyle, no nothing. Just the drills and regular deliveries of material to planet Earth until basically the giant space rock is finished. And that's just a giant space rock. There's whole worlds of diamond out there. And while coveting that would devalue the diamond as valuable jewelry, we cannot forget the industrial use of said diamonds.

Why travel millions of miles when you make diamonds in the lab on earth? Why mine 100,000 tons of asteroid to get Iridium when you can get Iridium from slag left over from millions of tons of copper and nickel refining. Why go to the moon to get He3 when you can create it from bombarding Lithium with neutrons. There is nothing that exists in space that can't be extracted here on Earth by cheaper means. Why investment 100s of billions when cheaper methods of extraction already exist.

albino boo:

FalloutJack:

albino boo:
No profit?

Au contrare! Space is the ultimate possibility, but because it is much greater in size than any continent on this planet and much further away, the amount of money you have to sink into it in order to get the return invetment WILL be dramatically larger. What you forget is that the return is that if we were, say, to indeed start mining a planetoid (an asteroid of significant size) for resources, we do get it all. It's a dead rock in space. No environmental concerns, no possibility of infringing on another lifeform's lifestyle, no nothing. Just the drills and regular deliveries of material to planet Earth until basically the giant space rock is finished. And that's just a giant space rock. There's whole worlds of diamond out there. And while coveting that would devalue the diamond as valuable jewelry, we cannot forget the industrial use of said diamonds.

Why travel millions of miles when you make diamonds in the lab on earth? Why mine 100,000 tons of asteroid to get Iridium when you can get Iridium from slag left over from millions of tons of copper and nickel refining. Why go to the moon to get He3 when you can create it from bombarding Lithium with neutrons. There is nothing that exists in space that can't be extracted here on Earth by cheaper means. Why investment 100s of billions when cheaper methods of extraction already exist.

I have no notion of how well that works or whether that will always meet the fullness of our needs. I do know that we make some pretty awesome advances around here, but eventually we will have to go out there. Some sort of deficiency will not be able to be worked around with clever innovation and we should be prepared for that.

FalloutJack:

I have no notion of how well that works or whether that will always meet the fullness of our needs. I do know that we make some pretty awesome advances around here, but eventually we will have to go out there. Some sort of deficiency will not be able to be worked around with clever innovation and we should be prepared for that.

Synthetic diamond is 20-30% cheaper than mined diamonds in the gemstone market. Its still cheaper to mine low grade industrial diamonds currently. If demand goes up it's still going to be cheaper to make diamonds than traveling millions of miles to get them. Nasa has just spent $671 million on getting a 65 kg satellite into orbit around Mars. That's roughly 3 times is weight in gold and thats without a return trip. To mine 1kg of Iridium from an asteroid with concentration the same as the highest ever found in meteorite, would require the mining and refining of 40,000 tons rock. Currently Iridum is refined from the cost fee left over from electro smelting of copper and nickel ores. Its done using simple cheap 19th century chemistry on the same site where the ore is refined.

There is a reason why Iron ore isn't air freighted and its the same why there isn't space mining. The transport cost make both uneconomic.

Strazdas:
snip about minerals

I don't think the first thing that corporations are gonna go after are minerals, in regards of outer space resource extraction.

At our current stage of space development, water is far more valuable.

Aside the obvious fact that water is a necessary part of life support, it can also be turned into hydrogen fuel and oxygen: the two main ingredients for outer space rocket propulsion.

One of the things that make space launches so costly is the ridiculous fuel ratio that's needed to launch something into orbit. It's somewhere around 90%. That means for every 1 kilogram that you want to send up, you need 9 kilograms of fuel. You'll also need to build a container that's large enough to house all the fuel and that's alot of extra weight, which requires even more fuel.

Once in orbit, depending on what you're planing to do, you also need fuel to maneuver around. That's more fuel, which increases the payload even more, 1 extra KG of fuel is actually 10 KG before launch.

But what if there was a gas station in orbit? One that not only carried all the fuel that you were gonna need for your mission, but also all your water and oxygen needs? That's alot of excess weight that we can drop from the payload, making space launches much more profitable. What's more, it allows for the potential of building ships that never have to land again. Imagine a space shuttle equivalent that picks up cargo/crew pods from small payload launches and takes it to the desired destination. A series of manned mission to the Moon/Mars could theoretically all be services by the same ship.

All that's required to build such a station is a smallish comet or an asteroid with confirmed ice inside it, tarp that can envelope it and a microwave generator, along with solar cells for the energy needs.

albino boo:
Relevent information

No no, I do understand that you have the information at your fingertips, but what I am saying is that at some point there will be a reason to do so even if we have plenty of clever techniques up our sleeves now.

Zulnam:
"When deep space exploration ramps up, it'll be the corporations that name everything, the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks." ― Chuck Palahniuk

NICE ONE! Seriously, good show. I'm kicking myself for not thinking of that quote.

On topic: I sure hope we don't inadvertently piss off a more technically advanced alien species and get into an intergalactic war over... I don't know... Unobtanium or something.

 

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