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Planetary Resources, Inc. Asteroid Mining: First telescope launch within 24 months

Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo When life gives you lemons......eat your delicious lemonsRegistered User regular
edited April 2012 in Debate and/or Discourse
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Who the hell are Planetary Resources?

These guys. More specifically, it's a company made up of ex-NASA engineers, an astronaut, planetary scientists, with the backing of not several billionaires (James Cameron and some Google types).

They have two goals, which they state like this
“will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP”

In short, they're going to mine astroids

Here are the founders, introducing themselves and their technical cojones



Is this a joke? Or a viral ad for a film? Or some shit like that?
I don't think so. I had a look and it seems to be legit. Here's a link to a guy who seems to agree. And another.

You can easily dig up thoughts on how top mine asteroids. Like here. Generally, you want to process it all in space, then drop some kind of metallic foam down to earth (if you inject liquid metal with nitrogen you can fairly easily make floating masses, so they'd just sit on the sea until you went to pick them up).

Hell, even the respectable, popular press have picked this up now.

What are they actually planning to do?
Phase 1: Find an asteroid
Phase 2: Extract volatiles from it (things like water, oxygen and nitrogen) to create some kind of supply depots in space
Phase 3: Get our hands on those precious metals (things like platinum, palladium and so on)
Phase 4: Profit!

What else?
Planetary Resources did a press conference the other day (on the 24th of April) and now their website contains useful bits of info.

But, within 2 years they expect to have launched space telescopes to find a suitable asteroid. And by 2020 they want to have the first of their supply depots in place. Frankly, it's exciting shit.

No, seriously, is this a joke?
It doesn't look like it, but that doesn't mean it'll happen. Even if they fail though, they claim to have already started work on the hardware, so it'll push things forwards.

When are they going to launch something?
Wihtin 24 months. Two years.

And it's one of these.
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ARKYD SERIES 100 - LEO SPACE TELESCOPE
This is for finding an asteroid (as well as proving that they can launch something). It sits in low earth orbit and they seem to be pushing it as an Earth imaging tool as well as a telescope for looking out to space.

There's a few more models of prospector that they seem to have in mind before any mining happens.

Here's a nice diagram of their plans. Linked because it's big.

Mojo_Jojo on
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Posts

  • valhalla130valhalla130 Od's blood Sailing a longshipRegistered User regular
    I've said since I was a teenager that the first people to figure out how to mine an asteroid would walk away billionaires. I really should have went into engineering.

  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    Yeah this is pretty awesome. I hope they pull it off.

  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    I endorse this endeavour, product and/or service.

    My imagination senses are tingling. 8->

  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad. The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    This is pretty cool. The logistics of this venture are pretty exciting to think about.

    Lh96QHG.png
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    About time. We should have been starting this stuff a decade ago, not pissing all our disposable income away in shit-hole middle east countries. We should be 10 fucking years into a period of discoveries about microgravity engineering, medicine, materials, and impulse technology, not 10 years into a period when the most exciting thing that's happened is marginally faster videocards, smartphones and blue LEDs.

    The quantity of metal resources in those asteroids is unimaginably huge. They're also really nice places to do manufacturing, because you don't have to worry about shitting up the ecology and environment of a lifeless rock in hard vacuum.

  • DracomicronDracomicron Registered User regular
    About damn time, I say.

    Gary Gygax wrote:
    ''The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules.''
  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Profitability doesn't strike me as the reason for this, but that's ok... If it never turns a profit it's still amazing.

  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad. The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    I imagine they'd make a pretty good profit if they can mine rare earth metals.

    I'd also like to find a big gold asteroid and bring it all back to Earth, destroying the gold standard dumbasses once and for all.

    Lh96QHG.png
  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    syndalis wrote: »
    spool32 wrote: »
    Profitability doesn't strike me as the reason for this, but that's ok... If it never turns a profit it's still amazing.

    There is an asteroid out there with the equivalent of trillions of dollars of platinum that passes close enough to us to be doable.

    Of course, this skirts the real problem of platinum becoming worthless if there were millions of tons of it.

    I think the cost needed to extract said platinum renders this point in time a fair distance away.

  • DracomicronDracomicron Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    Profitability doesn't strike me as the reason for this, but that's ok... If it never turns a profit it's still amazing.

    The profit is that humanity has a chance after we burn up all of our own natural resources. This kind of thing is the first step to The Next Phase for us.

    Gary Gygax wrote:
    ''The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules.''
  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    Profitability doesn't strike me as the reason for this, but that's ok... If it never turns a profit it's still amazing.

    There is an asteroid out there with the equivalent of trillions of dollars of platinum that passes close enough to us to be doable.

    Of course, this skirts the real problem of platinum becoming worthless if there were millions of tons of it.

  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad. The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    syndalis wrote: »
    spool32 wrote: »
    Profitability doesn't strike me as the reason for this, but that's ok... If it never turns a profit it's still amazing.

    There is an asteroid out there with the equivalent of trillions of dollars of platinum that passes close enough to us to be doable.

    Of course, this skirts the real problem of platinum becoming worthless if there were millions of tons of it.

    Well, it'll still be worth a lot because of the cost of getting it. I'm not expecting Space Minerals to be cheap. Sure, value might drop a bit, but it should be stable for a while.

    Of course I don't make my money in the platinum game, so w/e.

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  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    syndalis wrote: »
    spool32 wrote: »
    Profitability doesn't strike me as the reason for this, but that's ok... If it never turns a profit it's still amazing.

    There is an asteroid out there with the equivalent of trillions of dollars of platinum that passes close enough to us to be doable.

    Of course, this skirts the real problem of platinum becoming worthless if there were millions of tons of it.

    Which is fine, because it is pretty useful in a lot of electronics applications and the only thing that keeps it from being used is the immense cost.

  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    I wonder how much the recent improvements in photoelectric technology have affected the viability of this project.

    Incidentally, assuming this is actually allowed to go ahead, it will almost immediately precipitate the militarisation of space. Which makes for some nice technopr0n admittedly, but will also perpetuate the military-industrial complex.

    And in space, no one can hear your employment grievences...

  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad. The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    V1m wrote: »
    I wonder how much the recent improvements in photoelectric technology have affected the viability of this project.

    Incidentally, assuming this is actually allowed to go ahead, it will almost immediately precipitate the militarisation of space. Which makes for some nice technopr0n admittedly, but will also perpetuate the military-industrial complex.

    And in space, no one can hear your employment grievences...

    The military-industrial complex isn't going anywhere anytime soon anyway. Might as well get my warp drive out of it.

    Lh96QHG.png
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    The profitability of this is extracting the raw materials and processing them in space, then leaving them in space. (well, a useful, accessible orbit anyway).

    With the current cost of launching things into high orbit being what it is, those materials are going to be most valuable exactly where they are.

    This would actually be a kick-ass way to get space-based solar power up and running (build some big-ass polished surfaces, then send up a concentrator solar cell, then use the things you mine to build waveguides and heat-sinks for the microwave stuff).

  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    Does this mean the Malthusians can STFU?

  • KalTorakKalTorak Registered User regular
    Finally we'll get our hands on precious Element Zero and be able to harness mass effect fields.

  • StraygatsbyStraygatsby Registered User regular
    A) This is the first step towards that break point where the species out there that exterminates emerging life comes for us.

    or

    B) Cool cool cool.

  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad. The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    A) This is the first step towards that break point where the species out there that exterminates emerging life comes for us.

    or

    B) Cool cool cool.

    or

    C) Both

    *puts on sunglasses
    *runs out of bubblegum

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  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo When life gives you lemons... ...eat your delicious lemonsRegistered User regular
    V1m wrote: »
    The quantity of metal resources in those asteroids is unimaginably huge. They're also really nice places to do manufacturing, because you don't have to worry about shitting up the ecology and environment of a lifeless rock in hard vacuum.

    Hey, blue LEDs are exciting! Especially as the material we generally use for them can be alloyed to cover the full visible spectrum. Plus it's the blue ones that you use with YAG phosphors to give those ultra-bright white LEDs.

    But yes, asteroids are really heavy and mostly metal. If we take the sexily named (6178) 1986 DA, which is a near-Earth asteroid. It's 2.3km across and contains 10,000 tons of gold, 100,000 tons of platinum, 10 billion tons of iron (around 4 or 5 times the global output) and a billion of nickel (a whopping five hundred times global annual output).

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    Bagginses wrote: »
    Does this mean the Malthusians can STFU?

    Not until we can eat carbonaceous chondrites, no.

    Longer term, it potentially means that a lot of unpleasant, unsightly horribly polluting industries can be moved out of the ecosphere, reclaiming it for biological purposes. One example that springs to mind is silicon chip foundries; these use dreadfully toxic materials, are incredibly expensive, take a surprising amount of space, and would just work better in an ultralow G / vacuum environment.

    Plus you have much greater availability of any number of metallic elements from Iron to Indium. There are lots of nice things we could do if Iridium were to become common as Silver. And it should be noted that bulk metal ore extraction usually involves ripping apart vast areas of land, consuming titanic amounts of energy, and often using toxic materials (eg: Gold) with all the associated environmental overhead.

  • Mild ConfusionMild Confusion Smash All Things Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Yeah, even if the price for gold / other rare metals dropped, it's a good thing. The manufacture price to put those into electronics will also drop, so extra benefit.

    Mild Confusion on
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo When life gives you lemons... ...eat your delicious lemonsRegistered User regular
    Yeah, even if the price for gold / other rare metals dropped, it's a good thing. The manufacture price to put those into electronics will also drop, so extra benefit.

    Exactly. I don't think gold is so useful in silicon systems, but cheap platinum would really shake up microelectronics (and that's ignoring all the cool industrial catalysis uses).

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    I don't care about the value of the metal only insomuch as I want the venture to be financially viable so that we see more stuff like this.

    Billionaires are investing in this because they want a return on that investment. I want daring moves like this to be rewarded.

  • Form of Monkey!Form of Monkey! Registered User regular
    Bagginses wrote: »
    Does this mean the Malthusians can STFU?

    It would be, more specifically, a victory for the cornucopians and even more specifically, the late Julian Simon.

  • CantidoCantido Registered User regular
    Bagginses wrote: »
    Does this mean the Malthusians can STFU?

    It would be, more specifically, a victory for the cornucopians and even more specifically, the late Julian Simon.

    Is this a Hydrophobia reference? Because I didn't get past the first ten minutes.

    steam_sig.png
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo When life gives you lemons... ...eat your delicious lemonsRegistered User regular
    From what I gather they intend to generate initial income through launching telescopes. So they'll be used for science and selecting targets for asteroid mining.

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    Pretty much every astrophysicist would be onboard with this. Large raw samples of asteroids, and the opportunity to extract cores?

    The initial money would be returning to Earth and then just selling asteroid fragments.

  • WinkyWinky Registered User regular
    WHEN DO WE START THE PLANET CRACKING?

    I have so many nerd boners for this company you have no idea.

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  • Mild ConfusionMild Confusion Smash All Things Registered User regular
    Maybe if I inject space manufacturing dust (For Science!) I'll get biotics.

    Seriously though, I think the future of the human race is outside of our atmosphere and this is a thing that needs to happen. Maybe we need a Kickstarter rocket program.

  • wazillawazilla Registered User regular
    So when can I move to Omega and start a crime syndicate?

  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    Well also, if it ever does become possible to build a space elevator, one of the key ingredients is an asteroid counter-weight at geo.

  • DeebaserDeebaser Alpha Teemo Fake Board GamerRegistered User regular
    A) This is the first step towards that break point where the species out there that exterminates emerging life comes for us.

    or

    B) Cool cool cool.


    Like an immortal race of sentient starships allegedly waiting in dark space? We have dismissed this claim.

  • BloodsheedBloodsheed Registered User regular
    Deebaser wrote: »
    A) This is the first step towards that break point where the species out there that exterminates emerging life comes for us.

    or

    B) Cool cool cool.


    Like an immortal race of sentient starships allegedly waiting in dark space? We have dismissed this claim.

    I can't decide if 'Yes, "Reapers"...' or an image of Giogrio Tsoukalos is the proper response to this.

    On topicly, this makes me slightly less angry when I think about how stupid humanity is for clinging to this dying rock and not just agreeing "Yeah, we need to work together at least long enough to have a backup when we all fuck this up".

    Slightly.

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  • mxmarksmxmarks Registered User regular
    Just a heads up for everyone:

    Remember, cut off their limbs. It's the only way to kill them.

    XBL: MXrox - PSN: mxmarks - twitch.tv/mxmarks - "Yes, mxmarks is the King of Queens" - Unbreakable Vow
  • MalReynoldsMalReynolds The Hunter S Thompson of incredibly mild medicines Registered User regular
    I can't wait to get where we're going, where we don't need eyes to see.

    "A new take on the epic fantasy genre... Darkly comic, relatable characters... twisted storyline."
    "Readers who prefer tension and romance, Maledictions: The Offering, delivers... As serious YA fiction, I’ll give it five stars out of five. As a novel? Four and a half." - Liz Ellor
    My new novel: Maledictions: The Offering. Now in Paperback!
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    I am cautiously excited. This is hardly the first time that someone tried to found a company based on some wild space dream, but I think it's the first time someone has founded a company based on a wild space dream where the founding members' personal fortunes are sufficiently large that they could actually pull it off.

    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Jesus, people. This thread is like a running gunbattle with stupid bullets.
  • CantidoCantido Registered User regular
    I can't wait to get where we're going, where we don't need eyes to see.

    :^:

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