Re: Humans doomed without space colonies, says Hawking

From: Andrew Clough (
Date: Wed Oct 17 2001 - 23:40:15 MDT

>I believe some of the M (for Metal) type asteroids have, indeed, been
>estimated to have huge amounts of gold. By "huge", I mean "of similar
>or greater mass than the sum total of said metal humans have dredged up
>in the history of said species". I definitely remember that
>description applied to the amount of stainless steel in one M type
>asteroid. And these are M type asteroids that, at their closest, pass
>closer to the Earth than the Moon itself. It is at least theoretically
>possible to decelerate these things into medium-to-low Earth orbit,
>where they could be mined for raw wealth and scientific data.

I believe that Segan estimated in "Pale Blue Dot" (would you believe it,
the only book award that was actually a book was the one from Cornell) that
an average M asteroid would have trillions of dollars of precious metals at
current market prices, and enough heavy metals to last two or three years
of normal consumption. Of course, we can all say "market glut" but it
still seems a good investment. I suspect that we could get an astroid into
medium Earth orbit with not too much equipment mass. On the other hand,
getting the stuff mined and down to Earth would be tough.

>Can you say "ka-CHING!"? ^_^

Yeah, but it might take a few asteroids before you pay off the infrastructure.

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