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Plans for Asteroid Mining Emerge

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Old Tuesday, April 24th, 2012   #1
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Plans for Asteroid Mining Emerge

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Details have been emerging of the plan by billionaire entrepreneurs to mine asteroids for their resources.

The multi-million-dollar plan would use robotic spacecraft to squeeze chemical components of fuel and minerals such as platinum and gold out of the rocks.

The founders include film director and explorer James Cameron as well as Google's chief executive Larry Page and its executive chairman Eric Schmidt.

They even aim to create a fuel depot in space by 2020.

However, several scientists have responded with scepticism, calling the plan daring, difficult and highly expensive.

They struggle to see how it could be cost-effective, even with platinum and gold worth nearly £35 per gram ($1,600 an ounce). An upcoming Nasa mission to return just 60g (two ounces) of material from an asteroid to Earth will cost about $1bn.
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17827347
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Old Tuesday, April 24th, 2012   #2
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Exciting, but I am also skeptic. Only military interest boosted space exploration, so it's good civilians are pushing progress now.

Interest in exploring must be one of the main reasons since prospects for profits are slim.
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Old Tuesday, April 24th, 2012   #3
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Yeah, but if you plan to actually use those minerals in space to e.g. construct space stations etc., the equation would probably change dramatically.
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Old Wednesday, April 25th, 2012   #4
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Originally Posted by Hersir View Post
Interest in exploring must be one of the main reasons since prospects for profits are slim.
Which would not explain why they are looking in the possibility of mining asteroids. We have to think what there long term plans are for this. Maybe they plan on building space based construction facilities. Start up costs might be high, but once those have been written off one has a very competitive business that could offer cheaper services then earth based facilities.
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Old Friday, April 27th, 2012   #5
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UK engineers have begun critical tests on a new engine technology designed to lift a spaceplane into orbit


I hope the Brits can make it work
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Old Saturday, April 28th, 2012   #6
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my guess is that they want to mine asteroids for a very different reason. It might be cheaper to mine asteroids then send material up there with rockets. With these materials you could start producing certain materials in space, under vastly different conditions. I know they are running experiments in space for a long time now, and who knows what trade secrets and patents where developed up there.
I can imagine processing materials in space in micro gravity and possibly vacuum, extreme minus temperatures etc gives materials unique characteristics and/or characteristics that are hard to copy on earth and therefor perhaps could be produced cheaper in space. Getting a nearly perfect vacuum on earth and/or those extreme minus temperatures is very costly, micro gravity practically impossible, except for very short times.

Of course those companies wouldnt tell anybody NOW that that´s the reason they are getting into space. That way they have a huge time advantage on their side and are able to build monopoles on certain materials, production techniques etc.etc.etc. They can´t really built everything in secret, so they need a good excuse why they are going into space ^^
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