View Full Version : Industrial activity on the Moon?


-Tomasz-
Jun 09, 2008, 04:22 PM
Hypothesis necessary for this thread: By, 2050, there is a stable private presence on the Moon (hotels, other habitats, laboratories, factories, etc...).

A part from tourist atractions (ie: hotels) and research facilities, how do you imagine industrial activity on the Moon?

For instance, consider energy production: would it be made for earthlings, if yes, how would it be sent home to Earth?

What other types of goods would be produced on the Moon, and for what purpose?

Are there any legal conditions that would have to be met for such activity?

Discuss

GoodGame
Jun 09, 2008, 05:05 PM
I think Lagrange satellites would be more useful overall (closer, low-gee, just as claustrophobic in your living quarters, & what elements are really on the moon of value?). The moon's main economic value is in generating tides on earth, me thinks. If anything, we should harvest tidal energy, and thank the moon.

Cutlass
Jun 09, 2008, 05:26 PM
Virtually everything used on the moon will have to be produced there. For any foreseeable future, it'll just be to expensive to ship stuff from earth.

Perfection
Jun 09, 2008, 06:06 PM
space travel is pretty expensive. You'd need something very valuable to ship back from the moon.

Narz
Jun 09, 2008, 06:49 PM
By 2050? :crazyeye: Remember, people in the 60's thought they'd be flying cars by 2000. Shoot, people in the 30's thought we'd have 'em by the 1980's.

People are having trouble getting enough fuel to drive to work everyday and there are still a few threads a month of colonizing other planets.

El_Machinae
Jun 09, 2008, 07:42 PM
I've seen Tritium as a pretty common example of a huge resource available from the Moon. When fusion takes off, we're going to want Tritium.

At least, that's what the Space Elevator pushers claim.

Narz
Jun 09, 2008, 07:44 PM
When fusion takes off
How do you know "fusion will take off"?

El_Machinae
Jun 09, 2008, 08:01 PM
Because it's a viable idea, and it's being invested in.
It will take a bit, but the 'hard road' is being actively worked on. If an 'easy road' pops up in the meantime, we're golden.

Perfection
Jun 09, 2008, 09:59 PM
I've seen Tritium as a pretty common example of a huge resource available from the Moon. When fusion takes off, we're going to want Tritium.

At least, that's what the Space Elevator pushers claim.I think you mean helium 3 ;)

-Tomasz-
Jun 10, 2008, 02:28 AM
1. There is no need to ship energy back to Earth if you can beam it there via laser.

2. It is believed that there are huge deposits of helium three on he Moon, so we would need to build a sufficient infrastructure to exploit it.

3. The Moon is one huge natural resource made of the same elements as Earth. Our main problem in doing space travel is getting from Earth into orbit. The Moon would be ideal to host facilities and a base for further space exploration. You would only need to ship people from Earth, all the heavy hardware (such as big space station componenets, fuel, etc...) could be produced on the Moon.

In the 1960s people thought a lot indeed about where we're going to get in next decades. However, what they didn't have then that we do now is the private sector which is lifting off. The reason why we haven't gone far in the last 50 years in terms of the Moon is lack of competition from the USSR, and thus lack of government funding. In a couple of years we will not be dependent on government initiative for space activity. Space is quite profitable at the moment for tourism; tourism will fund more private developpement in orbit, and of course there will always be competition for market share. So funding as well as competition are solved.

GoodGame
Jun 11, 2008, 11:48 AM
An helium-3 I've heard. I'll take my earlier comment back. There's some cool stuff on the moon, so at least mining is a possibility.

I've seen Tritium as a pretty common example of a huge resource available from the Moon. When fusion takes off, we're going to want Tritium.

At least, that's what the Space Elevator pushers claim.

El_Machinae
Jun 11, 2008, 12:30 PM
I think you mean helium 3 ;)

Doc Ock wanted tritium, and that's what he's getting.

(sorry, tritium is used in research)

peter grimes
Jun 11, 2008, 03:56 PM
space travel is pretty expensive. You'd need something very valuable to ship back from the moon.

I know that leaving earth is pretty expensive, but I don't think that's the case with leaving the moon's gravity well - 1/6th that of earth. Of course it's a different environment regarding the economics of the infrastructure, but in terms of energy used, it will be way cheaper, kilo for kilo, to lift stuff off of the moon.

Brighteye
Jun 11, 2008, 04:41 PM
If we colonise the moon, it'll be to have potentially dangerous fusion/nuclear reactors somewhere far away from us, along with various high energy research interests/activities, astronomy and tourism.
I doubt that the moon will be popular for anything else.

AL_DA_GREAT
Jun 11, 2008, 05:40 PM
There can't be many natural recourses on the moon. I say there won't be much industry. Electricity will come from solar pannels. I think you will have a difficult time convincing people to live on the moon. It is the worst place immaginable to live.

Julian Delphiki
Jun 12, 2008, 12:21 AM
Worst? For this solar system, try Jupiter or Venus for example before moon.

Moon is supposed to have quite a lot rare metals and helium-3 from asteroid crashes.

-Tomasz-
Jun 12, 2008, 04:13 AM
No natural resources? I admit there is no oil nor trees on the Moon, but you've got plenty of different metals. Also, I've read some time ago, that NASA has done research on moon rocks and they came up with a way of getting water out of the Moon dust. The lunar surface may look poor at a first glance, but if one is to dig a bit deeper, one will find plenty of useful materials.

Perfection
Jun 14, 2008, 08:48 AM
Yeah, the Moons an entire world, there's lots of good stuff on it.

The helium 3 business seems a little bit far fetched to me. I mean, we're not talking about just scooping up stuff and sending it in rocket, but some serious processing.

JerichoHill
Jun 16, 2008, 12:43 PM
Could easily put alot of solar panels on the moon and beam the energy back to earth, say, in an isolated spot, for distribution.

dutchfire
Jun 16, 2008, 01:34 PM
There can't be many natural recourses on the moon. I say there won't be much industry. Electricity will come from solar pannels. I think you will have a difficult time convincing people to live on the moon. It is the worst place immaginable to live.

I suppose it'd be like an oil rig, or a sea-ship. Hard, lonely job, but well paying.

dutchfire
Jun 16, 2008, 01:35 PM
Could easily put alot of solar panels on the moon and beam the energy back to earth, say, in an isolated spot, for distribution.

When is the energy break-even point for that, considering the energy it costs to get a solar panel to the moon?

uppi
Jun 16, 2008, 05:00 PM
When is the energy break-even point for that, considering the energy it costs to get a solar panel to the moon?

I made a quick calculation, and considering only the gravitational energy and assuming 100% efficiency of a solar cell the lower bound would be about half a year of operation on the moon. Unfortunately with current technology I would estimate that the costs (and energy losses factored in) would be at least a factor of 100 higher, putting the break even point past the lifetime of a current solar cell.

It probably would be way more efficient in the long run to manufacture those solar cells on the moon directly. Then you would only have to lift the manufacturing equipment to the moon.

Perfection
Jun 17, 2008, 12:38 AM
Could easily put alot of solar panels on the moon and beam the energy back to earth, say, in an isolated spot, for distribution.That's a funny usage of the word "easy". Solar energy from the moon would be problematic for a number of reasons, foremost would be that it would be crazily expensive (why not just put solar panels on earth), beaming power would be extremely difficult (something we've never done before) nad potentially dangerous. And lastly, it wouldn't work during new moons.

uppi
Jun 17, 2008, 12:17 PM
(why not just put solar panels on earth),

You're right with the rest of your post, but there are reasons why one would prefer solar panels on the moon:

1. There is no atmosphere and no weather on the moon. That means, that power production on the moon would be very predictable, stable and reliable. You woudn't need backup in case it rains.

2. There is lots of empty space and unneeded sunlight there. You can't cover the whole earth with solar panels, as humans, animals and plants also need that sunlight. Of course you could cover deserts with solar panels, but there is only so much of it, and it might change the climate dangerously. On the moon there would be no such restrictions.

El_Machinae
Jun 18, 2008, 09:01 PM
Why not just put them in orbit? We need a Space Elevator to put them up first.

If you could build a 'solar-panel making robot' then it might make sense to ship that to the Moon.

Perfection
Jun 20, 2008, 12:28 AM
You're right with the rest of your post, but there are reasons why one would prefer solar panels on the moon:

1. There is no atmosphere and no weather on the moon. That means, that power production on the moon would be very predictable, stable and reliable. You woudn't need backup in case it rains.

2. There is lots of empty space and unneeded sunlight there. You can't cover the whole earth with solar panels, as humans, animals and plants also need that sunlight. Of course you could cover deserts with solar panels, but there is only so much of it, and it might change the climate dangerously. On the moon there would be no such restrictions.
1. Yeah, but you already need a backup for when there's a new moon, either that or some elaborate translunar transmission system. And eclipses too! Can't forget them! So you need a backup system there too no matter what you do on the moon. The big difference between solar stuff on Earth and on the moon is you don't have to put lots of stuff on the moon and have some elaborate transmission thingy.

2. If you beam down a crapton of solar energy from the moon, that's probably going to go somewhere. So you're still going to have to worry about climate change.

Look, in the future, it might be better to have giant solar arrays on the moon, but in anything resemebling the near term, there's no reason to do it.

Bomberman2
Apr 18, 2009, 07:33 PM
I heard that there is constant sun light at the poles on the moon. Just put them there or here's something crazier put them in orbit around the sun. Then they would get constant sunlight year round. It would be expensive but it would pay off in the long run. I mean at first we would need to test the concept of sending energy from orbit to the ground via laser in geosycronous orbit. But once we get the kinks out of it we can then send them around the sun.

Lord Olleus
Apr 19, 2009, 03:48 AM
And how would you transfer the energy from the satellites around the sun to those around the earth?

Perfection
Apr 19, 2009, 03:23 PM
LASERS!

pew! pew! pew! pew!

El_Machinae
Apr 19, 2009, 05:55 PM
http://www.permanent.com/i-index.htm

This guy has extensive writeups on industrializing space, and he suggests microwave-emitting satellites.

Lord Olleus
Apr 20, 2009, 04:50 AM
But the problem is how do you transmit from sun-orbit to earth orbit?

Presumably you would want the solar-panel satellites to be a lot closer to the sun than the earth is in order to maximise output. But you then have the problem that the orbit periods are different and so the earth and the solar satellite arent at a constant distance/angle to eahc other. In fact, they will at times be on opposite sides of the sun making transfer of power very complicated. That is, unless you have a whole load of intermediary satellites, all of which will add to the cost and reduce the efficency.

Serutan
Apr 20, 2009, 02:58 PM
1. Yeah, but you already need a backup for when there's a new moon, either that or some elaborate translunar transmission system.

Not if you design the system so that there are stations at 0, 120E, and 120W degrees lunar longitude on the Equator.

Gamemaster77
Apr 20, 2009, 09:42 PM
I thought this could probably be done but you are saying that we have figured out how to transfer energy via -----waves/lasers and then recollect the energy somewhere else. Also, I just feel like saying this in case not everyone knows this, LASER stands for
Light
Amplification
through
Stimulated
Emission of
Radiation
Hey, just wondering, who did and didn't know that?

Perfection
Apr 21, 2009, 08:20 AM
Not if you design the system so that there are stations at 0, 120E, and 120W degrees lunar longitude on the Equator.I don't see how that helps any. Sure you'll always have some station facing the sun, sure you always have some station facing the Earth, but we need is a station facing both the Earth and Sun to avoid lunar transmission.

JonathanStrange
Apr 21, 2009, 09:13 AM
We will always have to be cautious the Loonies don't revolt per Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but I think they'll always rely on Earth for at least some necessities. There is a wiki on Space manufacturing but I don't recall any particular major item.

Ghpstage
Apr 23, 2009, 10:38 AM
Wouldn't 'beaming' energy back to Earth be extremely inefficient?
I mean the energy will disperse as it travels and I don't know how much we could limit that effect.
As far as I understand its power transfer equation would look similar to the radar equation.

My thinking gives an equation like this
P2 is proportional to Fa*P1/D^2
(Yes the only "proportional to" symbol I can find on my PC is too awful to use)

Where P1 is your power from the source (moon, sattelite W/e), P2 is the power your recievers on Earth would recieve and D is the distance between source and reciever.

Fa is a function due to the beam accuracy that I wouldn't have a clue how to work out. (Some cone geometry mostly I'd guess)
The D^2 term from the moon would be enormous, the Fa would need to be incredible to make it workable.

Can any mathematicians or physicists here that tell me if I'm thinking down the right line or am I way off base with this?

Lord Olleus
Apr 23, 2009, 11:06 AM
Thats only true for an energy source that radiates in all directions (such as the sun). However if you construct a parabolic mirror and place such a source at the focus, the large majority of the radiation will be reflected so that it travels in one direction only so there is much less power lost with distance.

Ghpstage
Apr 23, 2009, 11:25 AM
Thats only true for an energy source that radiates in all directions (such as the sun). However if you construct a parabolic mirror and place such a source at the focus, the large majority of the radiation will be reflected so that it travels in one direction only so there is much less power lost with distance.

It will still have an emmision cone though won't it? Albeit a very narrow one compared to the 360 degrees of a star.
The relatively high accuracy compared to other sources will be reflected in the accuracy function (Fa) in the equation.
I'm just not convinced that an accuracy that will make this effective is a realistic prospect from 300,000Km away.

Although I will say I don't know how accurate our current lasers are as I can't find the info on them.

Perfection
Apr 23, 2009, 07:54 PM
Well, that's but one worry, you have to collect the light efficiently, transmit it, then convert it to useful power.To make this worthwhile you're going to have to get a whole crapton of power per pound of stuff sent to into space.

El_Machinae
Jul 08, 2009, 01:31 PM
This is still pie-in-the-sky, obviously, but NASA is funding engineering prizes for teams that come up with innovative concepts towards harvesting Moon resources.


Lunar Regolith Excavation Competition (http://www.nasa.gov/offices/ipp/innovation_incubator/centennial_challenges/regolith/index.html)
Teams design and build robotic machines to excavate simulated lunar soil. Excavating soil will be an important part of any construction projects or processing of natural resources on the Moon. NASA is looking for new ideas for excavation techniques that do not require excessively heavy machines or large amounts of power.

The NASA Regolith Excavation Challenge was held on August 2 and 3 on the campus of the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. The competition required teams to build a roving excavator that could autonomously navigate, excavate, and transfer 150 kg of simulated lunar regolith (lunar soil) into a collector bin within 30 minutes. Excavating lunar regolith will be an important part of any construction projects or processing of natural resources on the Moon. NASA is looking for new ideas for excavation techniques that do not require excessively heavy machines or large amounts of power.

The California Space Education and Workforce Institute managed this challenge and the 2008 prize purse was $750,000.

SS-18 ICBM
Jul 08, 2009, 05:49 PM
A part from tourist atractions (ie: hotels) and research facilities, how do you imagine industrial activity on the Moon?
Only industries which would be cost-effective to put there, which would depend heavily on the possible costs of being there. And of course industries based on the moon, such as mining and space-pioneered technologies.

For instance, consider energy production: would it be made for earthlings, if yes, how would it be sent home to Earth?
Probably only Helium-3 shuttled back for use on Earth-based nuclear fusion plants. Solar collectors would be used only for lunar energy.

What other types of goods would be produced on the Moon, and for what purpose?
If it's expensive to go there, then I don't see it happening. If it isn't too costly, we could move polluting industries there.

Are there any legal conditions that would have to be met for such activity?
Possibly the creation of new legal guidelines and codes for such activity, and international agreements on who gets to use what. And maybe government funding and incentives for such activities.

We will always have to be cautious the Loonies don't revolt per Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but I think they'll always rely on Earth for at least some necessities. There is a wiki on Space manufacturing but I don't recall any particular major item.
Why would they revolt? If they cut themselves off, they're screwed.

Seraphic
Jul 14, 2009, 05:18 PM
There's a lot of uranium on the moon, too.

mdwh
Jul 19, 2009, 10:04 AM
By 2050? :crazyeye: Remember, people in the 60's thought they'd be flying cars by 2000. Shoot, people in the 30's thought we'd have 'em by the 1980's.

People are having trouble getting enough fuel to drive to work everyday and there are still a few threads a month of colonizing other planets.I agree that there probably won't be a stable private presence by 2050, but I don't think it follows from flying cars. Just because one prediction is wrong doesn't mean that all predictions are wrong. And the problems with flying cars are more to do with economics and legislation (from a purely technological point of view, why doesn't a helicopter count?)

Chieftess
Jul 19, 2009, 11:48 AM
Why not just put them in orbit? We need a Space Elevator to put them up first.

If you could build a 'solar-panel making robot' then it might make sense to ship that to the Moon.

I still have my doubts about the Space Elevator (I guess it's not possible yet since at least one person is still laughing. ;)). Supposedly, the speed at which it travels is supposed to be very slow. It obviously can't sent people up, since it would take a week to get to a viable orbit(for a space station - of which the ISS may be scrapped in a few years) and you'd need food and facilities. Secondly, you'd need something big as a counterweight. The project is supposed to cost 10 billion dollars, which is "chump change" for many American corporations and rich individuals (or group of individuals), which would eventually lead to a new type of monopoly. Then there's legal and political issues about who gets to use the elevator for both commercial (tourism) and industrial (resource mining) gain. Poor countries that don't even have 10 billion in GDP, much less it's a significant chunk of their economy) could be left out in the cold.

Obviously, a colony would be needed on the moon to process minerals and then send them back to Earth. I don't think there will be space/moon hotels, since the prices would be, well, out of this world. Two other problems are less gravity (bone loss is common amongst astronauts), and radiation. The moon might be too dangerous for physical work, too, since any tear in the spacesuit would mean instant death. Plus, with 1/6th gravity, blasting rock in space would be akin to a small volcano - the spread of debris would be far greater.

I don't think there'll be industrial moon colonies by 2050 - far too early. First, there has to be a way of getting massive quantities of material to and from space, at least initially. That alone might take 30-50 years.

uppi
Jul 19, 2009, 03:58 PM
I still have my doubts about the Space Elevator (I guess it's not possible yet since at least one person is still laughing. ;)). Supposedly, the speed at which it travels is supposed to be very slow. It obviously can't sent people up, since it would take a week to get to a viable orbit(for a space station - of which the ISS may be scrapped in a few years) and you'd need food and facilities. Secondly, you'd need something big as a counterweight. The project is supposed to cost 10 billion dollars, which is "chump change" for many American corporations and rich individuals (or group of individuals), which would eventually lead to a new type of monopoly. Then there's legal and political issues about who gets to use the elevator for both commercial (tourism) and industrial (resource mining) gain. Poor countries that don't even have 10 billion in GDP, much less it's a significant chunk of their economy) could be left out in the cold.


That would be just business as usual: The big ones srewing the little ones. A space elevator would probably have such strategic value, that every large power would want access to one, and so several would probably be built. (And I guess it would become a high value strategic target in war, so you would also need enough military force to defend it)

But first we have to find out if there actually is a material that has the desired properties.


Obviously, a colony would be needed on the moon to process minerals and then send them back to Earth. I don't think there will be space/moon hotels, since the prices would be, well, out of this world. Two other problems are less gravity (bone loss is common amongst astronauts), and radiation. The moon might be too dangerous for physical work, too, since any tear in the spacesuit would mean instant death. Plus, with 1/6th gravity, blasting rock in space would be akin to a small volcano - the spread of debris would be far greater.


I don't see why there couldn't be an emergency oxygen mask implemented in the space suit that could be used in case of sudden pressure loss. But I don't think there would be much physical labor going on on the moon. It would be way more efficient to let robots do the work and just have a few people operating them.



I don't think there'll be industrial moon colonies by 2050 - far too early. First, there has to be a way of getting massive quantities of material to and from space, at least initially. That alone might take 30-50 years.

Or even longer.

Chieftess
Jul 19, 2009, 04:16 PM
I don't see why there couldn't be an emergency oxygen mask implemented in the space suit that could be used in case of sudden pressure loss. But I don't think there would be much physical labor going on on the moon. It would be way more efficient to let robots do the work and just have a few people operating them.



I was thinking more along the lines of if there was a tear in the arms or legs, and it was exposed to space, your limb would start to swell and your blood would boil away.

uppi
Jul 19, 2009, 04:46 PM
I was thinking more along the lines of if there was a tear in the arms or legs, and it was exposed to space, your limb would start to swell and your blood would boil away.

Unless you have a very serious wound, the skin would be able to contain the blood for quite some time. The swelling might be painful, but probably not life threatening. If you can keep your lungs pressurized, you'd probably live for quite some time.

civ_king
Jul 21, 2009, 07:22 PM
Unless you have a very serious wound, the skin would be able to contain the blood for quite some time. The swelling might be painful, but probably not life threatening. If you can keep your lungs pressurized, you'd probably live for quite some time.

doesn't water boil at 0 C in space? and freeze at that too?

uppi
Jul 22, 2009, 05:34 AM
doesn't water boil at 0 C in space? and freeze at that too?

No. The behavior you describe happens at the tripel point, which is at 0.01 C and 611 Pa.
Pressure in space is much lower than that, so it will boil at pretty much any temperature, if it's in the open.

civ_king
Jul 22, 2009, 05:27 PM
No. The behavior you describe happens at the tripel point, which is at 0.01 C and 611 Pa.
Pressure in space is much lower than that, so it will boil at pretty much any temperature, if it's in the open.

then how do Asteroids have Ice?

mdwh
Jul 22, 2009, 05:52 PM
Supposedly, the speed at which it travels is supposed to be very slow. It obviously can't sent people up, since it would take a week to get to a viable orbit(for a space station - of which the ISS may be scrapped in a few years) and you'd need food and facilities.There's loads more to space than sending just people up - putting satellites in orbit, sending up space probes that people can join up with in orbit (the current NASA plans are to separate the manned ship from the one that sends up the payload, and this could work in a similar manner), or sending up parts for assembly in space. And a week is nothing compared to the timescale of space travel.

Then there's legal and political issues about who gets to use the elevator for both commercial (tourism) and industrial (resource mining) gain. Poor countries that don't even have 10 billion in GDP, much less it's a significant chunk of their economy) could be left out in the cold.How is this any different to them being left out in the cold by space travel today? I don't see how offering more access, and cheaper access, to space makes things worse for anyone. Even if they don't benefit at all, that's no change to them.

First, there has to be a way of getting massive quantities of material to and from space, at least initially. That alone might take 30-50 years.That's what the space elevator would be useful for.

Cutlass
Jul 22, 2009, 06:04 PM
then how do Asteroids have Ice?

By being a lot colder than 0 C

uppi
Jul 23, 2009, 05:26 AM
then how do Asteroids have Ice?

Usually it's the comets, not the asteroids, which have ice.

But at low temperatures (<200 K) only a very low pressure is needed to freeze water vapor. Inside of a comet or asteroid, there is gravitational pressure to keep the water frozen. On the outside, the gravitation results in higher pressure than in space. Not much, but enough to keep the water frozen at very low temperatures. Of course, once it gets near the sun, a comet begins to boil at the outside, and this is the reason for the tail.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a good phase diagram for very low pressures, so I don't know the exact behavior at very low pressures.

Bluemofia
Jul 23, 2009, 05:34 AM
Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a good phase diagram for very low pressures, so I don't know the exact behavior at very low pressures.
Ugh, when I was doing research for one of my Chemistry projects, phase diagrams seem to be guarded jealously by corporations, and I couldn't find very many of them.

Rhyshaelkan
Aug 17, 2009, 04:27 PM
http://www.permanent.com/i-index.htm

This guy has extensive writeups on industrializing space, and he suggests microwave-emitting satellites.

We now have a forum (http://www.forumlog.com/nanobiotechnologyspace/index.php) to discuss the exploitation and colonization of space.

I will keep tabs on this thread if you would rather discuss things here. Just giving the option.

El_Machinae
Aug 17, 2009, 06:33 PM
PERMANENT was fairly formative in my dreams regarding Space Development. I was poking around it in 2003, and I loved it.

There was a lot of really useful information there. And quite a few things to get people's hopes up too. I've been trying to keep track of the known minerals in near Earth asteroids, but (not being in the field), I haven't been able to keep up to date.

In fact, I checked out wikipedia this weekend looking to see if the composition of the various near Earth asteroids was known, since NASAs plans for the Moon were released this weekend. But, no dice.

If one of them has the heavy metals Prado hopes, we should announce that to the world.


edit: poking around using search terms, I found an old post of mine. I guess it's the last time I've heard anything new about the content of asteroids.

The long-term possibilities are even more celestial. Ever heard of 3554 Amun? It's a space rock about 2 kilometers in diameter that looks as if it might have fallen straight out of The Little Prince. There are three key things to know about 3554 Amun: First, its orbit crosses that of Earth; second, it's the smallest M-class (metal-bearing) asteroid yet discovered; and finally, it contains (at today's prices) roughly $8 trillion worth of iron and nickel, $6 trillion of cobalt, and $6 trillion of platinumlike metals. In other words, whoever owns Amun could become 450 times as wealthy as Bill Gates. And if you time your journey right -- 2020 looks promising -- it's easier to reach than the Moon

CNN article (http://money.cnn.com/2006/02/27/technology/business2_guidetospaceintro/?source=yahoo_quote)

Rhyshaelkan
Aug 18, 2009, 12:41 AM
PERMANENT was fairly formative in my dreams regarding Space Development. I was poking around it in 2003, and I loved it.

There was a lot of really useful information there. And quite a few things to get people's hopes up too. I've been trying to keep track of the known minerals in near Earth asteroids, but (not being in the field), I haven't been able to keep up to date.

In fact, I checked out wikipedia this weekend looking to see if the composition of the various near Earth asteroids was known, since NASAs plans for the Moon were released this weekend. But, no dice.

If one of them has the heavy metals Prado hopes, we should announce that to the world.


edit: poking around using search terms, I found an old post of mine. I guess it's the last time I've heard anything new about the content of asteroids.



CNN article (http://money.cnn.com/2006/02/27/technology/business2_guidetospaceintro/?source=yahoo_quote)


Hehe yes, we are looking at either mining for the Platinum Group Metals, as they still command quite a high price on Earth, or looking for a dormant comet. From which we could extract water-ammonia ice. At space shuttle prices water is nearly $80000/gallon. At SpaceX' prices that drops significantly to around $8000/gallon if you are fortunate. Either way it can be a rather large boon if you can locate a dormant comet and ship it back to LEO.

All of which ultimately takes us back to the Moon. However we have to cover the costs of development and launches with other products first.

SS-18 ICBM
Aug 20, 2009, 12:11 PM
CNN article (http://money.cnn.com/2006/02/27/technology/business2_guidetospaceintro/?source=yahoo_quote)

We can extract all of that? Also, that much resources would dampen the price of the metals.

Rhyshaelkan
Aug 20, 2009, 03:25 PM
The biggest issue, besides getting there in the first place, is how to bring the desirable resources back Earth-side. Iron and nickle are on Earth aplenty. It would not be cost effective to return them to Earth. However, there might be a market for returning iron and nickle to a stable Earth orbit. Be that at one of the EML points, LEO, or GEO.

The platinum group metals however command a high price on Earth, and would be quite worth dropping back to Earth with an ablative heat shield made from sintered(baked) asteroidal silicates.

In theory ;)

El_Machinae
Aug 23, 2009, 10:32 AM
I don't know what we can or cannot extract, but it's something to keep in mind.

As to depressing the price of metals: well, that's a mixed bag. Obviously, anyone employed near a mining industry is going to suffer. However, the material benefit of having vast quantities of cheap metal is going to be good for the rest of society. As well, mining is probably our most ecologically devastating action (per $ gained), and so exporting the pollution, if you can call it that, to space is a pretty good idea.

Rhyshaelkan
Aug 23, 2009, 12:59 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beneficiation

Requires the material to be pulverized first. Not sure about how "fluffy" asteroids will be. However on Luna the regolith has been turned to powder after eons of micro-meteorites.
Lunar separation of minerals will be a simple thing with beneficiation.

Cutlass
Aug 23, 2009, 06:37 PM
PERMANENT was fairly formative in my dreams regarding Space Development. I was poking around it in 2003, and I loved it.

There was a lot of really useful information there. And quite a few things to get people's hopes up too. I've been trying to keep track of the known minerals in near Earth asteroids, but (not being in the field), I haven't been able to keep up to date.

In fact, I checked out wikipedia this weekend looking to see if the composition of the various near Earth asteroids was known, since NASAs plans for the Moon were released this weekend. But, no dice.

If one of them has the heavy metals Prado hopes, we should announce that to the world.


edit: poking around using search terms, I found an old post of mine. I guess it's the last time I've heard anything new about the content of asteroids.



CNN article (http://money.cnn.com/2006/02/27/technology/business2_guidetospaceintro/?source=yahoo_quote)


Bring it into Earth orbit ;)