Resources are becoming scarcer on earth - forcing us to aggressively search the environment for lower grade materials at higher financial and environmental costs. Asteroids are key to solving the resource shortage and the financial and ecological problems that it brings.
Gerlach 2005 (Charles, CEO Gerlach Space Systems, “Profitability Exploiting Near-Earth Object Resources” delivered at 2005 International Space Development Conference in Washington D.C , May 19-22 2005, NB
We are approaching an important crossroads in history as we begin to experience the concrete global implications of limited supplies of many of the key natural resources upon which our industrial civilization is built. While we will not fully exhaust supplies of fossil fuels and other critical resources for decades or even centuries, we have reached a point where we can identify indisputable limits and begin to more fully appreciate their potential consequences. Fortunately, we have time to learn to better conserve existing natural resources and seek new supplies. Faced with these emerging realities, space resources – especially the resources of near-Earth space – become increasingly viable and even attractive options. Though limited, the resource base of our planet is complex and differentiated. As we have increasingly exploited its resources, we have aggressively explored the Earth in search of the most accessible deposits of ores and fuels. As we have used up the most accessible resources, we have had to dig deeper, accepting lower grade materials that are more costly to produce both in terms of financial investment and damage to our environment. Independent of local resource scarcities and variations on individual planets, our solar system is differentiated on a large scale. Just as processes of crustal evolution have produced concentrations of useful materials at different depths and locations on the Earth's surface, general processes of solar system evolution have produced concentrations of different resources in different parts of the solar system. These processes have produced vast supplies of a variety of materials distributed in zones, ranging from metalrich silicates near the Sun through concentrations of organic and rocky material in the mid-solar system to concentrations of ices in the outer solar system. Melting has also concentrated metals in asteroidal cores exposed later by collisions and fragmentation.
Asteroid Mining solves – large amount of resources key to economy.
Ross. 01. ( Shane D. Ross is an assistant professor at Virginia Tech in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics. “Near-Earth Asteroid Mining” 12-14-01. http://126.96.36.199/settlement/asteroids/NearEarthAsteroidMining(Ross2001).pdf. TQ)
Asteroid mining is a concept that involves the extraction of useful materials from asteroids. Due to their accessibility, near-Earth asteroids (those asteroids that pass near the Earth, also known as NEAs) are a particularly accessible subset of the asteroids that provide potentially attractive targets for resources to support space industrialization. Many materials could be extracted and processed from NEAs which are useful for propulsion, construction life support, agriculture, metallurgy, semiconductors, and precious and strategic metals (see Table 1). Volatiles such as hydrogen and methane could be used to produce rocket propellant to transport spacecraft between space habitats, Earth, the Moon, the asteroids, and beyond. Rare-earth metals could be used to manufacture structural materials as well as solar photovoltaic arrays which could be used to power space or lunar habitats. These solar cells could also be used in a constellation of solar power satellites in orbit around the Earth in order to provide electrical power for its inhabitants. Precious metals such as platinum, platinum-group metals (PGMs), and gold are also available. 1.1 Space Industrialization The industrialization and settlement of space is likely to be brought about primarily by increasing commercial activities in space, worth several billion dollars per year, including the following existing activities: telecommunications, direct broadcast television, navigation (e.g., the Global Positioning System), remote sensing, and metereological services. Low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations will roughly double the annual income of these services over the next decade (Sonter ).
Mining Solves Economy
Mining for resources is key to the economy
(Michael D. Campbell et.al Educational Material Development Developing Industrial Minerals, Nuclear Minerals and Commodities of Interest via Off-World Exploration and Mining QJ)
Identifying and mining nickel, cobalt, and a variety of other commodities that are in short supply on Earth, or those that could be mined, produced, and delivered more cheaply in space than on Earth could contribute to and drive the world‟s technology and associated economy to a scale never before contemplated. This is based, of course, on the assumption that the economics are favorable. Large multi-national, quasi-governmental industrial groups are likely to develop over the next few decades to handle projects of such magnitude, if they haven‟t already begun to assemble. In the beginning, the economics would likely be underwritten by governmental support, perhaps by a group of governments cooperating in funding and technology but followed later by some governments funding programs to accommodate their own particular self-interests.
Asteroid mining solves everything: economy, tech, war and environment
Ross in 2001 (Shane D. Assistant Professor Engineering Science and Mechanics at Virginia Tech. Space Industry Report Near-Earth Asteroid Mining December 14, 2001. Google Scholar. TS)
Many terrestrial resources, such as precious metals and fossil fuels, are running out. As new terrestrial sources are sought, materials are obtained at increasing economic and environmental cost. Society pays for this depletion of resources in the form of higher prices for manufactured goods, would-be technologies that are not developed for lack of raw materials, global and regional conflicts spurred by competition for remaining resources, and environmental damage caused by development of poorer and more problematic deposits. Utilization of asteroid resources may provide a partial solution to the problem, as they hold the potential for becoming the main sources of some metals and other materials. Precious metals and semiconducting elements in iron meteorites, which form the metallic cores of asteroids, are found in relatively large concentrations compared to Earth sources. In such sources, it may be possible to extract up to 187 parts per million (ppm) of precious metals, which includes Au, the Pt-group metals (Pt, Ru, Rh, Pd, Os, and It), Re, and Ge. More than 1000 ppm of other metals, semiconductors, and nonmetals may may one day be extracted and imported by Earth from asteroids, such as Ag, In, Co, Ga, and As.