Asteroid Affirmative

Download 0.74 Mb.
Date conversion29.04.2016
Size0.74 Mb.
1   ...   40   41   42   43   44   45   46   47   ...   66

Asteroid Mining = Safer & Cheaper

Asteroid mining is the best - Terrestrial mining methods expensive and toxic

Gerlach 2005 (Charles Gerlach is the CEO Gerlach Space Systems, “Profitability Exploiting Near-Earth Object Resources.” Given at the International Space Development Conference in Washington DC, May 192005,, pg 1-2. TDA)

Like most terrestrial mining processes, platinum production requires large investments in mining and processing equipment and the people to operate that equipment. Developing a new mine can cost as much as $1 billion, not including ongoing operating and refining costs. In addition, using today’s most cost-effective methods, platinum production is a toxic enterprise, requiring tremendous amounts of chlorine, ammonia, and hydrogen chloride gas, which are all released as part of the process. Large amounts of effluents are left at the end of the process – several hundred pounds of toxic effluents per grain of platinum and other PGMs, including metals such as iron, zinc, nickel, as well as other metals that are part of the ore but not commercially viable to extract. The process also generates harmful sulfates. While major producers are now using more environmentally-sensitive means to mitigate pollution, the sheer volume of material involved and the minute quantity of valuable PGMs per ton of ore mean that terrestrial production processes inevitably harm the environment. A robotic asteroid mining platform will use a radically different process. If the compositional data discussed in Section 2 is correct, the robotic miner will be starting with a grade of platinum group elements that is as high as that at the end of the third stage of the terrestrial production process.

All Asteroids can be mined

Every asteroid we discover can be mined – even the small ones are worth trillions

Lewis 97 (John S. Lewis is a professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, former professor of space sciences at MIT. “Escaping the ultimate disaster--a cosmic collision.”  Futurist, Jan/Feb97, Vol. 31, Issue 1. EBSCOhost. TDA)

There is another way of looking at near-Earth bodies: as opportunities rather than threats. A large proportion of the most-threatening objects are also the most-accessible bodies in the solar system for spacecraft missions from Earth. These bodies are the most-promising sources of raw materials for a wide range of future space activities. They may provide the propellants for future interplanetary expeditions, the metals for construction of solar power satellites to meet Earth's energy needs in the third millennium, the life-support materials and radiation shielding to protect space colonies, and the precious and strategic metals needed by Earth's industries. For instance, the smallest known metallic asteroid, 3554 Amun, contains over $1 trillion worth of cobalt, $1 trillion worth of nickel, $800 billion worth of iron, and $700 billion worth of platinum. The total value of this single small asteroid is approximately equal to the entire national debt of the United States. By comparison, the uncontrolled impact of Amun with Earth would deliver a devastating 7-million-megaton blow to the biosphere, killing billions of people and doing hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of damage. Thus we come to our final, and most startling, discovery: The stick that threatens Earth is also a carrot. Every negative incentive we have to master the impact hazard has a corresponding positive incentive to reap the bounty of mineral wealth in the would-be impactors by crushing them and bringing them back in tiny, safe packages, a few hundred tons at a time, for use both in space and on Earth. Remember that we will almost certainly have hundreds to thousands of years of warning time before a threatening global-scale impact. We need not be driven to rash and risky actions taken precipitously under threat of death. We will almost certainly have plenty of time to deal with the problem. Dealing with near-Earth objects should not be viewed grudgingly as a necessary expense: It is an enormously profitable investment in a limitless future. It is a liberation from resource shortages and limits to growth. It is an open door into the solar system--and beyond.

We Have The Tech

Ballute tech allows reentry with mined material – cheap, lightweight, and durable

Gerlach 2005 (Charles Gerlach is the CEO Gerlach Space Systems, “Profitability Exploiting Near-Earth Object Resources.” Given at the International Space Development Conference in Washington DC, May 192005,, pg 1-2. TDA)

One final challenge is the cost-effective return of processed resources to Earth for sale. A major energy cost of the return mission is to decelerate the payload so as to achieve Earth-capture. Fuel requirements for propulsive braking and capture into orbit or for atmospheric entry render many asteroid resource concepts impractical. There are various options for reducing velocity from hyperbolic to a bound planetary orbit upon return. One method is to rely on propulsive braking using propellant carried to the asteroid and back or by using asteroid-derived propellant. This is the simplest approach, but it is undesirable because it either adds additional fuel to the mass of the payload sent to the asteroid or it reduces the quantity of material that is returned to orbit and requires an additional system for producing asteroid-derived propellant in. A second option is to rely on aero-braking or aero-entry using an Earth-fabricated aerobrake. A traditional aero-brake would likely require too much mass too make it viable. Some engineers have proposed in situ construction of an aero-brake from asteroidal materials, although this would appear too complex of a task given current robotic systems. Yet another option is to use lunar fly-by to remove hyperbolic -v will naturally insert the returning craft into highly elliptical Earth orbit (HEEO) with no stress on the payload and no consumption of propellant. Navigation and timing constraints must be met to ensure the requisite low altitude pass over the Moon at the proper time in its orbit to provide maximum velocity loss. A maximum velocity reduction of 1.5 km/sec. has been quoted for a single lunar flyby. This corresponds to an object returning on a transfer orbit of Q = 1.25 AU, from an aphelion mining mission; and an object returning on a transfer orbit of q = 0.83 AU from a perihelion mining mission. For this type of option, the most desirable targets for lunar flyby capture are those asteroids with aphelia less than 1.25 AU or perihelia more than 0.8 AU Given these constraints, ballute technologies provide an intriguing solution to this problem, potentially negating the requirement for propulsive braking or complex and time-consuming orbital maneuvers to use the gravity of other bodies to place a return container into Earth orbit or to enable entry into the Earth’s atmosphere for recovery on the ground. Ballutes are inflatable structures designed to act as aero-shells and parachutes. There relatively compact, lightweight systems duplicate the functions of a much heavier aero-shell. The most mature ballute technology available is the Inflatable Re-Entry and Descent Technology (IRDT) demonstrator originally developed by NPO Lavochkin as part of the Mars-96 mission to support entry and descent of a Mars penetrator lander (Figure 19). The IRDT employs an inflatable envelope able to withstand the extreme hypersonic flight environment of re-entry. It provides a lightweight, cost-effective aero-shell that can be used for aero-braking and aeroentry. Use of the ballute system will enable aero-braking and aero-entry concepts that should greatly reduce fuel requirements. The ballute system also enables precision landing of the heavy payload in an unpopulated recovery area. The inflatable technology offers great advantages due to its low volume and mass. As noted in the previous section, the return containers incorporated into each lander are designed so that they can be docked and mated with the ballute system on the orbiter for return to earth. These containers provide mandrels for depositing platinum as well as chambers for secure return of samples and hardened data storage systems. Use of this type of return craft enables precise delivery of a large payload including unprecedented quantities of data. Since the cost of data storage hardware is decreasing very rapidly, terabytes of data can now be returned in compact, hardened data storage systems contained in each of the return containers. Data can be mirrored between data storage systems in each container mitigating concerns about the failure of or destruction of the data in one or more of the containers during re-entry and landing. This capability will make possible the return hundreds of hours of high-definition video plus other data that would otherwise be impossible to return due to limited bandwidth for deep space communications. As noted in Section 3, the ability to return so much high-definition video is a source of revenue by itself. It also will enable engineers to study processes and telemetry as never before in order to re-design and improve processes for future missions. Finally, it can be used as a powerful marketing tool.

1   ...   40   41   42   43   44   45   46   47   ...   66

The database is protected by copyright © 2016
send message

    Main page