Re: twinkle, twinkle

James Rogers (
Mon, 23 Dec 1996 19:55:36 -0800

>Since we are at madcap ideas, again: I've been reading up on some
>preliminary prospection, erm, cosmochemistry. What is the legal
>situation: which country/person owns the Moon? Phobos? Is this a claim
>thing, first comes first, or is it currently legally undefined? I'd
>assume the latter. As you doubtlessly know, unmanned LEO launch capacity
>will soon grew progressively cheaper and cheaper, currently there are (tiny)
>amateur satellites up there. Assuming one would start a large private
>project, with the goal of constructing a smallish von-Neumann probe (the
>Moon, or a suitable asteroid for target), complete with an ion drive
>sufficiently strong to carry it from MEO. Of course, one would need much
>better digital electronics, and through research into industrial
>processes in hard-vacuum/low-grav conditions, but we might be ready to
>launch such a beastie 20-30 years from now. After the stuff arrives,
>unfolds, autoreplicates, etc. etc. you could ferry around (solar sails)
>arbitrary amounts of processed materials, e.g. nickel-iron steel, organics
>(plastics, etc.) titanium, platinum, solar cells, whatever. One could
>deliver the stuff by ballistic course to any place on Earth, using the
>atmospheric layer for decceleration.
>What's your oppinion, when will the general public realize that all above
>is not just another fraudulent scheme, and would invest in such a company?

1) I don't think most of the public is informed well enough to make a
determination as to whether or not this is a fraudulent scheme.

2) The economics of such an endeavour are beyond everyone but a few
governments and the largest corporations.

However, the profitability is obvious. I think I read that one nickel/iron
asteroid retrieved from the asteroid belt could produce as much refined
metal as had been produced in the entirety of human history. And despite
the high cost of retrieving the asteroid, you could sell the metal for a
small fraction of the cost of earth-derived metals and still make a huge profit.

-James Rogers