Re: Space Mining

From: Ross A. Finlayson (
Date: Fri May 18 2001 - 09:03:10 MDT wrote:

> Spike Jones wrote:
> > ...And it belongs to the first one there with the wherewithal
> > to enforce her will. spike
> The point is not get there with a self-rep machine, stripmine
> the iron mountain and ship produce back to earth. Getting there
> with a smart enough machine is a sufficiently high threshold
> already, not to mention shipping the stuff back and deorbiting
> it (getting a kiloton of stainless steel profiles falling on
> the top of your head out of the clear blue sky is probably not
> the best way to wake up on Sunday morning).
> The point is getting to the first rock outside this gravity well
> and to *stay* there. How lucky we are to have a big rock at our
> doorstep so that we don't have to design for microgravity and
> relativistic lag is still tolerable for teleoperation. (We're so
> lucky I'd clean suspect Anders putting it up there if this was
> a space RPG, to up the pace of the game).
> Once we've gotten that sustainable bridgehead in place, the solar
> system is ours.

I think that is the better plan, to consider the asteroids like that as
long term asteroids, and not like icebergs to be towed to port for

So, at some point, this is how I see it developing, something is sent
there that is constructive in nature, it mines the metal ore there,
smelts and refines it, perhaps in a very small furnace, and there builds
a station, with the capacity to launch to the other ones.

Here, nano could be very helpful by being the quantum storage of the
site plan and when getting there, multiplying off the metal into the
heavy equipment. Alternately, the mining might be by multitudinous
spaceworthy metallic robotic digger wasps, where all the initial mining
would simply hole a cavity, and the rest would be self contained within
the rock.

Now, all this material has value. For example, throughout the universe,
there are billions and billions of tons of gold and platinum, more than
ninety-nine percent of which has absolutely no value to anyone here. It
is either not here, or we are not there, thus that extrasolar materials
have zero impact on our economy.

Thus, the transportation cost of the self-replicating mining material
would essentially make in space separate mineral economies. If that
station was called Amun, in the Amun economy, a gallon of milk could
have an economic cost of hundreds thousands of dollars, where steel
would be free.

In terms of returnings those materials to Earth, that brings into the
question heavy drop capabilities, as opposed to heavy lift. The metals
could be aeroformed into supertankers and dropped into orbit to reach
Earth at a leisurely pace, there to float gently to the ocean, and from
there to port.


Ross Andrew Finlayson
Finlayson Consulting
Ross at Tiki-Lounge:
"It's always one more."  - Internet multi-player computer game player

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