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Old 06-09-2011, 04:34 PM   #76
RGClark
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Originally Posted by T.Neo View Post
 It is no excuse, it is a valid observation.
I am so confident in saying that, that I will positively say that it is objective reality as well.
The computer analogy is pretty bad, because that statement is actually pretty valid, if you look at it from the perspective of times in history when computers were very bulky, very expensive, slow, difficult to operate, and genuinely did not have applications of interest to most people.
Because nobody had a decent computer at the time, nobody really thought of the ramifications of capable and cheap electronic information storage/transfer and a global network of easily controllable computers.
Here, we're trying to look at the ramifications of spaceflight. Or the ramifications for spaceflight. Or both.
And currently there isn't really any legitimate purpose for manned spaceflight in the modern era.
The computer comparison might actually be apt. It was not because of their size that it was thought they would have no use in the home. It was literally that the EXPERTS in the field couldn't imagine what they would be used for in the home.

Now, if you make the hypothesis that space travel will become low cost, say by two orders of magnitude cheaper to LEO, then one possible area of profitability would be resource mining from the Moon and/or asteroids.
The estimates of the metals that might be available in just a medium sized asteroid are staggering.


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Old 06-09-2011, 04:43 PM   #77
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 It was literally that the EXPERTS in the field couldn't imagine what they would be used for in the home.
And at the time they were absolutely right. Nobody needed that kind of computing power or data storage (which was limited) at home. We owe the Home Computer Revolution to some lucky breaks: unexpensive ICs, devoted hobbysts and some Killer Apps (back when they weren't called Killer Apps) like VisiCalc which allowed even the smallest mom-and-pop store to do profit and loss projections without the need for an expensive outside specialist. Add to that the fact that the machines were as open as they could be and this enabled lots of people to try their hands at programming (nowadays it's, unfortunately, unthinkable and even illegal-under-penalty-of-death) and this brought further apps (and games) that helped secure the computer a place in the home.

It was an amazing set of coincidences but then those were crazy times...
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Old 06-09-2011, 05:15 PM   #78
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Now, if you make the hypothesis that space travel will become low cost, say by two orders of magnitude cheaper to LEO, then one possible area of profitability would be resource mining from the Moon and/or asteroids.
The estimates of the metals that might be available in just a medium sized asteroid are staggering.
There's no reason to ship lunar/asteroidal resources to Earth, because Earth already has those resources, and they're far cheaper to get at, even when you factor in reduced launch costs. Add to that the fact that they're often concentrated in convenient ores, whereas they would generally tend to be found in low concentrations elsewhere in the solar system.

I also think people underestimate the difficulties of launch costs. One to two orders of magnitude cheaper is a big improvement, and certainly not an easy one.

If we take Proton's cost/kg to be 4300 dollars, one or two orders of magnitude down would be 430-43 dollars, the latter of which is a huge reduction which only the most speculative or optimistic (or unrealistic) concepts suggest. Even the former is a huge reduction.

The minimum cost/kg with current energy costs (factoring in to both propellant and structure) might be on the order of several tens of dollars- 30-50 dollars. However, various things drive that price up dramatically, including but not limited to the fact that the vehicle actually has to be constructed and operated. Which isn't easy.

Generally stuff that isn't easy isn't cheap either...

Last edited by T.Neo; 06-09-2011 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 06-09-2011, 05:21 PM   #79
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2020-ish - China has built its small space station, everyone congratulates them and moves on. China continues with manned launches to the station over the next few years.

A few years later, China launches a rocket with a large "orbit maintenance booster" as its payload and docks with their small station in LEO. Two days later the entire station performs a TLI and heads to the moon.

The major powers are in an uproar, the press calls it "the Space Pearl harbor" and the US congress demands answers from everyone from NASA to the CIA.

A week later the second nation flag is planted on the moon, a Chinese one. A week after that a small habitat is deorbited from the Chinese station in lunar orbit.

At this point Space funding goes through the roof in all major countries, minor countries offer what ever they can to support their favorite major power. Technology leaps ahead at an astounding pace, new propolusion technologies, new materials, more computing power. By 2050 every nation in the world has at least one commercial space port offering trips to the moon or LEO hotels. By 2100 trips to Mars are just like going to the beach for a long weekend.

Who really knows what will happen, but as my Dad likes to say "no one will care about the moon until China puts a big old honking space laser up there!"
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Old 06-09-2011, 05:27 PM   #80
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I know it isn't likely, but I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for a technological singularity. That'd solve a lot of problems. Or end up producing something worse than Skynet, GLaDOS, and that computer from Paranoia combined.

Either way, I'm being way too optimistic.
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Old 06-09-2011, 05:40 PM   #81
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Originally Posted by CigDriver View Post
 2020-ish - China has built its small space station, everyone congratulates them and moves on. China continues with manned launches to the station over the next few years.

A few years later, China launches a rocket with a large "orbit maintenance booster" as its payload and docks with their small station in LEO. Two days later the entire station performs a TLI and heads to the moon.

The major powers are in an uproar, the press calls it "the Space Pearl harbor" and the US congress demands answers from everyone from NASA to the CIA.

A week later the second nation flag is planted on the moon, a Chinese one. A week after that a small habitat is deorbited from the Chinese station in lunar orbit.

At this point Space funding goes through the roof in all major countries, minor countries offer what ever they can to support their favorite major power. Technology leaps ahead at an astounding pace, new propolusion technologies, new materials, more computing power. By 2050 every nation in the world has at least one commercial space port offering trips to the moon or LEO hotels. By 2100 trips to Mars are just like going to the beach for a long weekend.

Who really knows what will happen, but as my Dad likes to say "no one will care about the moon until China puts a big old honking space laser up there!"

I have a feeling that china will collapse and there will be another Chinese civil war far before they ever have a solid date of when they will make a moon mission...
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Old 06-09-2011, 05:56 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by CigDriver View Post
 At this point Space funding goes through the roof in all major countries, minor countries offer what ever they can to support their favorite major power. Technology leaps ahead at an astounding pace, new propolusion technologies, new materials, more computing power. By 2050 every nation in the world has at least one commercial space port offering trips to the moon or LEO hotels. By 2100 trips to Mars are just like going to the beach for a long weekend.
Simple answer: Too cool to happen in reality. But oh, if it did...
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Originally Posted by CigDriver View Post
 Who really knows what will happen, but as my Dad likes to say "no one will care about the moon until China puts a big old honking space laser up there!"
I wonder if even that would garner much more of a reaction than uproar in the Security Council and perhaps boycotts by some UN countries.
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Old 06-09-2011, 05:58 PM   #83
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Originally Posted by Ghostrider View Post
 We owe the Home Computer Revolution to some lucky breaks: unexpensive ICs, devoted hobbysts ...
The difference is of course that you can't get into orbit in small steps. The difference in the amount of energy required for orbital flight, compared to a 100 km suborbital hop, is too large. And there's no point in aiming for a point in between, so we can't rely on the same progression we got in computing.
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Old 06-09-2011, 06:07 PM   #84
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I think people take China for more of an Evil Empire than they really are. China doesn't seem to be going anywhere fast in space. It's progressing at what, a tenth the rate of the US/russian space programs? Certainly when flight rate is concerned. Their plans don't look all that amibitious, and they don't look like they're going to "pull a fast one" and plant a death-ray on the Moon.

Maybe increased political competition will lend itself to new lunar programs and soforth, but if a government needs to spend money to look impressive, they'll spend a lot of money- which means that cost reduction no longer becomes so much of a problem. In essence, it has a lesser chance of "opening up" manned spaceflight.

What manned spaceflight needs, is a "killer app". If it does exist, nobody has found it yet. Even political competition won't cut it- after all, Apollo only lasted for a few missions, and the Soviets axed their moon program without even going to the Moon.

If we had another planet in the solar system that was actually habitable, maybe there would be more of a push towards space. But alas, we are in between a hellish hothouse and a freezing desert, and orbited by a dry cinder, places most people couldn't care less about.

Quote:
Or end up producing something worse than Skynet, GLaDOS, and that computer from Paranoia combined.
Or it could produce something worse still; not only something worse than Skynet, GLaDOS and that computer that I've never heard about before, but something worse than Skynet, GLaDOS and that computer I've never heard about before, combined with the psychology of an evil corporation:


Last edited by T.Neo; 06-09-2011 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 06-09-2011, 08:02 PM   #85
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 Or end up producing something worse than Skynet, GLaDOS, and that computer from Paranoia combined.
You're talking about Facebook, right?
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Old 06-10-2011, 08:34 AM   #86
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Originally Posted by T.Neo View Post
 There's no reason to ship lunar/asteroidal resources to Earth, because Earth already has those resources, and they're far cheaper to get at, even when you factor in reduced launch costs. Add to that the fact that they're often concentrated in convenient ores, whereas they would generally tend to be found in low concentrations elsewhere in the solar system.
I also think people underestimate the difficulties of launch costs. One to two orders of magnitude cheaper is a big improvement, and certainly not an easy one.
The precious metal ores are not convenient, otherwise they would not be expensive. If launch costs can be reduced to the range of $100/kg it very well may be profitable to mine them off Earth.
According to this page an asteroid just one mile wide could have valuable metals concentrated within it worth trillions of dollars:

Asteroid mining.
"Asteroid mining refers to the possibility of exploiting raw materials from asteroids and planetoids in space, especially near-Earth objects. Minerals and volatiles could be mined from an asteroid or spent comet to provide space construction material (e.g., iron, nickel, titanium), to extract water and oxygen to sustain the lives of prospector-astronauts on site, as well as hydrogen and oxygen for use as rocket fuel. In space exploration, these activities are referred to as in-situ resource utilization.
Some day, the platinum, cobalt and other valuable elements from asteroids may even be returned to Earth for profit. At 1997 prices, a relatively small metallic asteroid with a diameter of 1.6 km (1 mile) contains more than $20 trillion US dollars worth of industrial and precious metals.[1] In fact, all the gold, cobalt, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium and ruthenium that we now mine from the Earth's crust, and that are essential for economic and technological progress, came originally from the rain of asteroids that hit the Earth after the crust cooled.[2][3] This is because, while asteroids and the Earth congealed from the same starting materials, Earth's massive gravity pulled all such siderophilic (iron loving) elements into the planet's core during its molten youth more than four billion years ago. Initially, this left the crust utterly depleted of such valuable elements. Asteroid impacts re-infused the depleted crust with metals."
Asteroid mining - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Asteroid mining - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Some proponents of space exploration have stated the first trillionaires will come from the exploitation of space resources. They may be right.

I've discussed on this forum my view on how to reduce the cost of space access. It's summarized in that one simple sentence at the end of my sig file.


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Old 06-10-2011, 11:51 AM   #87
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If the Moon is the way to go. Then probably something like this will happen:

2020-The countries involved in the ISS team up for a "return to the Moon mission".

2025-Tests on the [insert name here] rocket are successful.

2027-Manned mission to the Moon.

2029-Unmanned "LM trucks" land on the Moon with parts for a Lunar outpost.

2030-Astronauts/Cosmonauts construct the outpost.

2032-First crew to live in the outpost.

2035-Proposals for rockets built on the Moon for a Mars mission arise.

2036-Second Lunar outpost constructed for rocket building.

2045-First manned mission to Mars.


Off topic:
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 By 2100 trips to Mars are just like going to the beach for a long weekend.
Anyone else notice the subliminal message?
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Old 06-10-2011, 02:57 PM   #88
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 You're talking about Facebook, right?
Facebook doesn't think everyone's commie mutant traitors.
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Old 06-10-2011, 03:37 PM   #89
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Originally Posted by RGClark View Post
 The precious metal ores are not convenient, otherwise they would not be expensive. If launch costs can be reduced to the range of $100/kg it very well may be profitable to mine them off Earth.
According to this page an asteroid just one mile wide could have valuable metals concentrated within it worth trillions of dollars:

Asteroid mining.
"Asteroid mining refers to the possibility of exploiting raw materials from asteroids and planetoids in space, especially near-Earth objects. Minerals and volatiles could be mined from an asteroid or spent comet to provide space construction material (e.g., iron, nickel, titanium), to extract water and oxygen to sustain the lives of prospector-astronauts on site, as well as hydrogen and oxygen for use as rocket fuel. In space exploration, these activities are referred to as in-situ resource utilization.
Some day, the platinum, cobalt and other valuable elements from asteroids may even be returned to Earth for profit. At 1997 prices, a relatively small metallic asteroid with a diameter of 1.6 km (1 mile) contains more than $20 trillion US dollars worth of industrial and precious metals.[1] In fact, all the gold, cobalt, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium and ruthenium that we now mine from the Earth's crust, and that are essential for economic and technological progress, came originally from the rain of asteroids that hit the Earth after the crust cooled.[2][3] This is because, while asteroids and the Earth congealed from the same starting materials, Earth's massive gravity pulled all such siderophilic (iron loving) elements into the planet's core during its molten youth more than four billion years ago. Initially, this left the crust utterly depleted of such valuable elements. Asteroid impacts re-infused the depleted crust with metals."
Asteroid mining - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Some proponents of space exploration have stated the first trillionaires will come from the exploitation of space resources. They may be right.

I've discussed on this forum my view on how to reduce the cost of space access. It's summarized in that one simple sentence at the end of my sig file.


Bob Clark
Plus there could be a surge in the need for platinum and there is an asteroid that ,based on its radio albedo, contains vast amounts of gold, platinum... And there is a minority of iron and nickel which theoretically could power industry on earth for a few thousand if not million years... Iron and nickel could be combined with small amounts of carbon on the asteroid to to make steel... The platinum could be used to run methanol economy(I hate hydrogen)... The gold could be used to make electronics and other advanced parts cheaper...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/(6178)_1986_DA


Attached is my cargo vessel...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg astrtp1.jpg (4.8 KB, 22 views)

Last edited by fsci123; 06-10-2011 at 04:30 PM.
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Old 06-10-2011, 04:33 PM   #90
T.Neo
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The precious metal ores are not convenient, otherwise they would not be expensive. If launch costs can be reduced to the range of $100/kg it very well may be profitable to mine them off Earth.
According to this page an asteroid just one mile wide could have valuable metals concentrated within it worth trillions of dollars:
There's a sliding scale of convenient-ness here. Yes, it's difficult to dig 3 km under Johannesburg to get at some gold ore, but it's far easier than travelling to some asteroid to get at the concentrations of gold there.

Quote:
Asteroid mining.
"Asteroid mining refers to the possibility of exploiting raw materials from asteroids and planetoids in space, especially near-Earth objects. Minerals and volatiles could be mined from an asteroid or spent comet to provide space construction material (e.g., iron, nickel, titanium), to extract water and oxygen to sustain the lives of prospector-astronauts on site, as well as hydrogen and oxygen for use as rocket fuel. In space exploration, these activities are referred to as in-situ resource utilization.
Some day, the platinum, cobalt and other valuable elements from asteroids may even be returned to Earth for profit. At 1997 prices, a relatively small metallic asteroid with a diameter of 1.6 km (1 mile) contains more than $20 trillion US dollars worth of industrial and precious metals.[1]
Well yes, that is a nice figure, but the economics of the whole operation are the deciding factor. If you can't launch from Earth, transit to the asteroid, perform the operation, transit back to Earth, and reenter for a low enough amount of money, then the entire operation is entirely unfeasible.

Quote:
Some proponents of space exploration have stated the first trillionaires will come from the exploitation of space resources. They may be right.
They are likely wrong, at least, for the forseeable future. For one, mining 20 trillion USD out of an asteroid even with abilities far beyond our own would not be a cheap endeavour, one that would certainly be undertaken by a very large company at the very least, with profits being split up into several departments.

Quote:
I've discussed on this forum my view on how to reduce the cost of space access. It's summarized in that one simple sentence at the end of my sig file.
SSTO will not dramatically reduce launch costs. Skylon for example is supposed to achieve what, 1000-600 $/kg? That is quite a bit above 100 $/kg.

The fact is, the infrastructure is just too costly, regardless of whether it breaks up into pieces or not. Spaceflight is extremely intensive and therefore expensive.

In addition, once you want to go beyond LEO, costs balloon, because you have to ship all your propellant to LEO first.

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Quote:
Plus there could be a surge in the need for platinum and there is an asteroid that ,based on its radio albedo, contains vast amounts of gold, platinum... And there is a minority of iron and nickel which theoretically could power industry on earth for a few thousand if not million years... Iron and nickel could be combined with small amounts of carbon on the asteroid to to make steel... The platinum could be used to run methanol economy(I hate hydrogen)... The gold could be used to make electronics and other advanced parts cheaper...
Vast amounts of gold and platinum? How vast?

What is this, a platinum moon?

Is there some sort of impenatrable diamond layer that has magically appeared over the Earth's crust that makes it impossible to utilise our own resources?

Last edited by T.Neo; 06-10-2011 at 04:39 PM.
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