Re: Humans doomed without space colonies, says Hawking

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Thu Oct 18 2001 - 08:51:03 MDT

Andrew Clough wrote:
> 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.

Actually, cutting an asteroid up is not that tough. You take a couple
thousand yards of diamond impregnated cable, a motor, and a
counter-rotating flywheel, you can cut through rather quickly. While the
metal may be radiation hardened at the granular level, it is also not
that densely packed and sintered due to the low g environment. Using
lasers would also be a useful means of cutting it up. Even M class
asteroids also tend to collect a regolith coating of mixed
silica/aluminum compounds, which could be used in producing home grown
solar panels for power needs.

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