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Why Mining an Asteroid for Water and Precious Metals Isn't as Crazy as it Sounds
Popular Science ^ | 04/24/12 | Clay Dillow

Posted on 04/24/2012 5:20:08 PM PDT by KevinDavis

Billionaire-backed space startup Planetary Resources has officially unveiled its business plan to much fanfare and with few surprises. The company’s principals--which include X-Prize Foundation founder Peter Diamandis, Space Adventures co-founder Eric Anderson, and former NASA Flight Director Chris Lewicki--today pledged that Planetary Resources would make the abundant resources of space available here on Earth, and introduced a couple of the company’s own spacecraft that will make such space prospecting possible. The rush for space resources is officially on.

(Excerpt) Read more at popsci.com ...


TOPICS: Astronomy; Business/Economy
KEYWORDS: space
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1 posted on 04/24/2012 5:20:13 PM PDT by KevinDavis
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To: Jack Hydrazine; ELS; ToxicMich; Cronos; A_perfect_lady; Art in Idaho; perplyone; TheOldLady; ...

2 posted on 04/24/2012 5:21:37 PM PDT by KevinDavis (Go Mitt Go!!!)
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To: KevinDavis; Revolting cat!; Slings and Arrows

Because bottled water from Fiji, Iceland, and Houston isn’t exotic enough anymore.


3 posted on 04/24/2012 5:21:54 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (Barack Obama continued to sponsor Jeremiah Wright after he said "G.D. AMERIKKA!"Where's the outrage?)
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To: KevinDavis
More water? We have oceans full of it.

We just need energy to desalinate and transport it.

4 posted on 04/24/2012 5:23:25 PM PDT by RoosterRedux
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To: KevinDavis

Live a new life on the off-world colonies.


5 posted on 04/24/2012 5:27:28 PM PDT by struggle (http://killthegovernment.wordpress.com/)
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To: KevinDavis

yeah, it’s a piece of cake. just ask Bruce Willis


6 posted on 04/24/2012 5:28:42 PM PDT by plain talk
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To: struggle; All

Amen..


7 posted on 04/24/2012 5:29:01 PM PDT by KevinDavis (Go Mitt Go!!!)
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To: KevinDavis

It makes perfect sense to anyone with the slightest understanding of costs involved in space flight.

If you’ve got water in space, you have hydrogen and oxygen that don’t need to be hefted to orbit at a cost of thousands of dollars per pound.


8 posted on 04/24/2012 5:29:49 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: KevinDavis

Newt was dissed for men mining on the moon. Now everyone is fascinated by the prospect of robots mining asteroids.


9 posted on 04/24/2012 5:30:55 PM PDT by jonrick46 (Countdown to 11-06-2012)
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To: RoosterRedux
We just need energy to desalinate and transport it.

But if your living and working in space you need to have water that was hauled hauled up and out of a very deep gravity well. That is very expensive.

10 posted on 04/24/2012 5:32:02 PM PDT by DarthFuzball ("Life is full of little surprises." - Pandora)
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To: DarthFuzball
That is very expensive.

5 figures per lb as near as I can tell.
11 posted on 04/24/2012 5:37:23 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: KevinDavis

This is all going to collapse when they find a spotted owl on an asteroid.


12 posted on 04/24/2012 5:41:15 PM PDT by HerrBlucher
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To: KevinDavis

Actually, it’s even crazier than it sounds.


13 posted on 04/24/2012 5:41:48 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Government is the religion of the sociopath.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
But it is private citizens using their own money to advance science and humanity (and their pocketbooks). You would think a conservative would appreciate those that are on the edge of technology development.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"

-- David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in radio, 1920s

Nay-sayers have been around for a long time.

/johnny

14 posted on 04/24/2012 5:45:48 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

“Actually, it’s even crazier than it sounds.”
Didn’t you read this part?
~~~Planetary Resources merely has some interesting Powerpoint slides, some big-money backers, and a press conference under its belt.~~~
There’s no room for doubt. These guys are series.


15 posted on 04/24/2012 5:51:23 PM PDT by running_dog_lackey
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To: JRandomFreeper
But it is private citizens using their own money to advance science and humanity (and their pocketbooks). You would think a conservative would appreciate those that are on the edge of technology development.

Oh, contraire, I guarantee you these operators know how to get federal funding, and they plan on getting it.

16 posted on 04/24/2012 5:54:46 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Government is the religion of the sociopath.)
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To: JRandomFreeper
Nay-sayers have been around for a long time.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

We the elders of the bronze age bitter clinger's society demand that you cease this foolishness right this minute.
17 posted on 04/24/2012 5:55:36 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
Prove it.

/johnny

18 posted on 04/24/2012 5:56:20 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: cripplecreek
"Man will not fly for 50 years."

-- Wilbur Wright, American aviation pioneer, to brother Orville, after a disappointing flying experiment, 1901

It's not just the bronze age fuddy duddies. ;)

/johnny

19 posted on 04/24/2012 5:59:46 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: KevinDavis
Sounds far more expensive and time consuming than most of us will live to see... but, when I was a child no one would have thought it possible for man to visit the moon and return either.

Technologically it looks somehow doable today, at enormous expense that is unlikely to be repaid until many years into the future - possibly too many to for investors to hope for a return in their lifetime.

There's one glaring problem I'm sure they are still trying to calculate the full ramifications of. Asteroids (the most valuable quite large) are moving through space at a horrific rate, presenting a rather difficult obstacle - that of the fuel-power needed to overcome mass plus speed.

The solution can only lie in long-term minimal corrections in direction, and use of gravitational power to assist - with perhaps some deep-space refueling made possible. I'd love to hear or read how they expect to be able to pull it all off in a reasonable time period - i.e., within how many years.

20 posted on 04/24/2012 6:05:50 PM PDT by Ron C.
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To: KevinDavis
A P.S. (that I forgot to include above) - the robot facility that could convert water into rocket fuel, store it, and refuel other robots would be what I want to see the plans of. How big is it (them,) cost of, predicted output at how far into the future.

It is that facility (and others?) placed where, when, and how productive it (they) will be able to be that the whole enterprise must rely on.

Twenty years into the future? At least, I would imagine - and with a world bankrupt and on the verge of world war again, it begins to look like 'pie in the sky.'

21 posted on 04/24/2012 6:27:15 PM PDT by Ron C.
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To: KevinDavis

A cover story for what?
I smell the CIA and another Glomar Challenger stunt.


22 posted on 04/24/2012 6:27:20 PM PDT by gfbtbb (The answer to your question will not be found here.)
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To: RoosterRedux

What would be cheaper, building robots to scour the heavens for water laden asteroids, or building a robotic moon-base to convert the water (supposedly a lot of it, per expert-conjecture) on the moon to rocket fuel?


23 posted on 04/24/2012 6:33:06 PM PDT by Ron C.
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To: KevinDavis
UNCOVERED: Obama to give oil-rich Alaskan (United States) islands, billions of barrels of oil, to Russia...
24 posted on 04/24/2012 7:00:30 PM PDT by ATOMIC_PUNK (Any man may make a mistake ; none but a fool will persist in it . { Latin proverb })
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Click the link. The Republic you save may be your own.

25 posted on 04/24/2012 7:13:48 PM PDT by RedMDer (https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/default.aspx?tsid=93)
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To: cripplecreek

They seem to be advocating bringing stuff back to Earth. Seems to me it would take as much energy to bring it to the surface (without it all burning up) as it would to blast it off.


26 posted on 04/24/2012 7:19:32 PM PDT by DManA
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To: DManA

Its always easier and cheaper coming down. Coming down is unpowered just for starters. The space shuttle is nothing but a glider.


27 posted on 04/24/2012 7:22:57 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: KevinDavis

As long as they are not circling Uranus, you’ll be ok.


28 posted on 04/24/2012 7:31:21 PM PDT by irishtenor (Everything in moderation, however, too much whiskey is just enough... Mark Twain)
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To: JRandomFreeper
Go ahead and worship the dotcom bubble boys. I never said you couldn't.

But maybe someday you can grow up.

29 posted on 04/24/2012 7:38:26 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Government is the religion of the sociopath.)
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To: cripplecreek

Is a glider practical for an economically significant mass of minerals?


30 posted on 04/24/2012 7:41:32 PM PDT by DManA
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
So you made an assertion without proof.

And find it easier to disparage the person that pointed it out than to provide proof.

K. I'm fairly clear on the maturity issues now.

/johnny

31 posted on 04/24/2012 7:41:50 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
So you made an assertion without proof.

And find it easier to disparage the person that pointed it out than to provide proof.

K. I'm fairly clear on the maturity issues now.

/johnny

32 posted on 04/24/2012 7:42:19 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: DManA

Considering the fact that it doesn’t require fuel, I can’t think of a more economic means. After all, why would you need to do it any other way?

Also there’s the fact that we’ve been thinking of this stuff in terms of government which is always wildly overpriced.


33 posted on 04/24/2012 7:46:28 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: KevinDavis

Based on what we know now there is nothing on the asteroids that isn’t also on Earth in pretty good quantities.

I suppose hoopla is necessary o get anything done but the cold hard fact is that space exploration is basic research - you shouldn’t expect an economic return but may be worth it for it’s own sake.


34 posted on 04/24/2012 7:48:38 PM PDT by DManA
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To: DManA
An economically significant mass of minerals depends on the mineral.

Platinum is significant in small masses. So are some of the rare earths.

Water would be stupid to return, except as fuel to be used to slow a spacecraft, as would some others, unless they had been worked into valuable end items.

Meter long carbon nano-tubes might be a case for value returning.

But the bottom line is that we don't know until we get there and do it.

What use is a baby? What is the economic return? Maybe a lot, or maybe none.

Same here. Folks will fail, we will learn, and we'll move forward.

/johnny

35 posted on 04/24/2012 7:49:46 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: cripplecreek

What I’m saying is you can bring a ton of space shuttle and a few rock down that way. Can you bring 100 tons down in a glider?


36 posted on 04/24/2012 7:49:56 PM PDT by DManA
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To: JRandomFreeper

See my post #34.


37 posted on 04/24/2012 7:51:13 PM PDT by DManA
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To: DManA

The shuttle weighs 165,000 lbs and can carry another 65,000 in payload. Its 30 year old government tech. I trust private industry to come up with something that far exceeds the shuttle abilities.


38 posted on 04/24/2012 7:55:13 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: DManA
Based on what we know now there is nothing on the asteroids that isn’t also on Earth in pretty good quantities.

That is true, on the face of it, but the concentrations are very different. There are asteroids that are solid nickle-iron with a few % of other stuff.

You don't find that kind of ore on earth. Earth mixes stuff up pretty well.

And there has been economic return from space. Billions of dollars worth. Already. Without tapping any minerals.

/johnny

39 posted on 04/24/2012 8:00:19 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: JRandomFreeper

At current platinum prices ($1500+ per oz) I’m getting over a billion and a half dollars for a shuttle bay full of platinum which is one of the common metals in space. (Obviously that’s processed price in a shuttle that wouldn’t be used)


40 posted on 04/24/2012 8:04:32 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: JRandomFreeper

Those guys made their billions milking the system. They are not going to stop now.


41 posted on 04/24/2012 8:08:15 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Government is the religion of the sociopath.)
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To: JRandomFreeper
I am skeptical of that.

And there has been economic return from space. Billions of dollars worth. Already.

42 posted on 04/24/2012 8:10:45 PM PDT by DManA
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
Prove it. Diamadis, for example. Give examples where he's made billions milking the system.

/johnny

43 posted on 04/24/2012 8:14:14 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: JRandomFreeper

Worship your dotcom sluts. I don’t care.


44 posted on 04/24/2012 8:17:37 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Government is the religion of the sociopath.)
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To: JRandomFreeper
What do you consider a "return"? American tax payers have invested half a trillion in NASA alone? God knows what the military has spent.

Seen in the year-by-year breakdown listed below, the total amounts (in nominal dollars) that NASA has been budgeted from 1958 to 2011 amounts to $526.18 billion dollars—an average of $9.7 billion per year.

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

45 posted on 04/24/2012 8:18:16 PM PDT by DManA
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To: DManA
AT&T and other telecoms make billions from space. Farmers make and don't lose billions with space technology. DishTV does quite a nice business. As does Hughs network with sat internet service.

A commercial comsat costs billions to put into orbit. You think companies do that for funsies? They do it for ROI.

Some do fail, but not as often as when we first started.

/johnny

46 posted on 04/24/2012 8:20:33 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
In other words, you don't have a clue, and no facts to support you.

/johnny

47 posted on 04/24/2012 8:22:02 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: DManA
NASA should be shut down. Period. I don't consider taxes taken at gunpoint an investment.

However.... commercial launches of commercial payloads have been going on as well. Those, I approve of.

/johnny

48 posted on 04/24/2012 8:24:19 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: JRandomFreeper

I’ve sort of lost track of the argument.

Has our collectivist investment in space been worth the cost?

That is an extremely complex question, one which I am not qualified to answer right now.

What is the proposition on the table?


49 posted on 04/24/2012 8:28:12 PM PDT by DManA
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To: DManA
What is the proposition on the table?

Is a private venture into mining asteroids crazy, and if so, why?

/johnny

50 posted on 04/24/2012 8:34:45 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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