Re: Humans doomed without space colonies, says Hawking

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sat Oct 20 2001 - 01:02:26 MDT

Adrian Tymes wrote:
> Samantha Atkins wrote:
> > Why bring the metal and volatiles from a near-earth asteroid to earth?
> > They would be quite useful in building something interesting in space
> > without having to haul so much up the gravity well.
> True. But you also need to pay the people who design the stuff to
> build up there, not to mention paying for the mission that snatched the
> asteroid to begin with. Some of the metal could be kept up there; pure
> economic necessity means that at least some, and perhaps most (at
> first, until there is enough of a market for stuff built in orbit to
> use even a large fraction of the metal in a single asteroid) of it will
> be brought back down to Earth.

If you are after a near earth asteroid and are using robots then
you might not need to snag the rock at all for the beginning
extraction and refining and hollowing out some habitation
space. When the work has preceded for a while and the rock
returns to its nearest point might be the time to send out a
human team. Meanwhile this rock is now sporting some refined
metals and volatiles useful for further space operations and
building up more structures. The market for these things is in
orbit rather than on the ground. How much is extended
structure, material, fuel and habitation already in space worth
to would be space enterprise?

> Keeping 'em up there becomes more feasable for the later asteroids.
> But we need to get from here to there before we're there.

Actually I think keeping the materials up there is quite
feasible for the first asteroid or two. Only ship to Earth high
value minerals that you don't have much pragmatic use for in

- samantha

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