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Space Science Technology

New Asteroid Mining Company Emerges 148

coondoggie writes "A new company intends by 2015 to send a fleet of tiny satellites to mine passing asteroids for high-value metals. Deep Space Industries Inc.'s asteroid mining proposal begins in 2015, when the company plans to send out a squadron of 55lb cubesats, called Fireflies, that will explore near-Earth space for two to six months looking for target asteroids. The company's CEO said, 'Using resources harvested in space is the only way to afford permanent space development. More than 900 new asteroids that pass near Earth are discovered every year. They can be like the Iron Range of Minnesota was for the Detroit car industry last century — a key resource located near where it was needed. In this case, metals and fuel from asteroids can expand the in-space industries of this century. That is our strategy.'"
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New Asteroid Mining Company Emerges

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  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @06:53PM (#42662453)

    if after they made their own mine tailings, they noticed that there were already mine tailings there.

  • Re:This is a joke. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DanielRavenNest ( 107550 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @07:11PM (#42662637)

    How much do you know about Asteroid Mining?

    Quite a lot, actually. It's part of the space systems engineering textbook I'm writing

    What I do know is that 2015, two years from now, is a totally and completely unrealistic goal.

    That is not an unrealistic goal to launch prospector spacecraft. Coondoggie's article summary mangles what they intend to do, and you misread it further. Their actual website lists three stages: Prospecting craft to find the asteroids, assay missions to bring back ~20 kg samples, and only then trying to actually mine. This is a sensible plan.

    In the mean time, I hope to start building prototype "seed factory" hardware this year. A seed factory is the minimal starter set of machines to start building *other* machines, which in turn becomes your industrial base. Think of it like a bootstrap compiler for hardware. Feed it plans for other machines, it starts making parts. I'm aiming for making 85% of the 2nd generation machines, because 100% is too hard a goal. The other 15% you just buy.

  • by smpoole7 ( 1467717 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @07:38PM (#42662883) Homepage

    > the funding for this endeavor is a bit of a question mark

    Unless and until they discover an asteroid, in a favorable orbit, that has large deposits of rhodium, or palladium, or platinum, or gold. (Or even copper.)

    That will bring in the speculative investors.

    Once they demonstrate that they can bring these minerals back to earth at a profit, then they will have screaming investors climbing over one another to put up money for it.

    I was arguing years ago that we ought to be doing this. I'm TIRED of the whiny, "only one Earth and we're running out of resources" bullcrap. If they can make this work -- and I give them an even 50/50 chance -- it'll be as revolutionary as the invention of the wheel.

  • Re:This is a joke. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @08:49PM (#42663699)

    Most likely, utter failure.
    But, if it works, insanely profitable. It's like betting on "0" at roulette, only more so.
    Why? Because the plan is not to bring materials back to Earth! Any material is insanely expensive if it has to be hoisted out of earth's gravity well. If you can provide the material, already in space, even materials that are cheap on earth are ridiculously valuable. Tin, copper, nickel, iron, aluminum, all are worth more in orbit than gold, platinum, or palladium, etc are on earth.

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @11:30PM (#42665081) Homepage Journal

    50/50 chance? You're talking about the original investors and original staff, I take it.

    Given that they are almost as likely to fail as they are to succeed, what happens when they go under? Someone buys up their assets, right? They will have left some valuable tools up there, and someone will want to claim them, maybe for pennies on the dollar. That someone will have a somewhat different plant, and succeed where the first team failed. Or, something like that.

    Bottom line, for me, is that they are accumulating experience and knowledge in the attempt. We, mankind, will build on that, and eventually succeed.

    Everything needed for exploration and colonization is already out there. All we need do is figure out how to use them. Success depends only on our initiative.

    Two thumbs up for initiative!

  • I really get annoyed when people describe something they've thought of (or something they've found) as something they've invented.

    Then be prepared to get bent: When I was 10 years old I independently invented masturbation. I tried to keep it secret for almost a year, but only while I studied the effects because I thought I'd be rich beyond dreams someday after I patented the process... I even let a few of my close friends in on the revolutionary discovery, contingent upon their swearing to not reveal the technique.

    It was their own fault, but still you could imagine my parent's consternation: "Mom, Dad, I need $375 to file a patent... I figured out a new way to, um, touch... things that is really amazing! You're not going to believe this..."

    Now, when I look back I'm not embarrassed, I'm angry that the information wasn't readily available.
    The point is: Perhaps your annoyance is aimed in the wrong direction. I mean, either A) Everyone knows about 3D printing tech, and they're just describing for completeness, or B) They think they're Wanktomus Prime and can't wait to tell everyone about being the first wankers ever... Would you really be annoyed in either instance? Life's too short to be pissed off all the time; I suggest substituting humor in place of annoyance and sarcasm in place of outrage.

The next person to mention spaghetti stacks to me is going to have his head knocked off. -- Bill Conrad