To make the planet a cleaner, you need to start developing asteroids
Mining and materials on asteroids may seem like something out of the ordinary, but in fact the company and even some governments have seriously considered this possibility. Why not: in comparison with the enormous technical problems that must be solved in the world, in terms of our gravity on an asteroid everything will be much easier on a smaller scale, in high concentrations, and with simple technological solutions. One can only hope that the asteroid will begin to develop quickly enough to solve resource problems that the world faced now.
The researchers are working with companies that are planning to develop the asteroids in order to hasten the arrival of that future. Because of the secrecy of individual data volumes, they can not tell - a trade secret. Nevertheless, the main reasons for optimism and what it might mean for our future - about this they say quite openly.
Many people are skeptical of mining resources on asteroids, because they think that the goal of all this - to return to the market in the world platinum. The media confidently say that platinum asteroid could cost trillions of dollars, but anyone who has a basic understanding of economic realities, to say that the appearance of the planet precious metal giant stock just bring down the market, thereby reducing the value and the asteroid.
On the other hand, if the plan is to mine platinum in small portions, maintaining the high value (as in the case of diamond, for example) as if the miners of asteroids will compete with terrestrial prospectors who already benefit from the existing supply chain and transportation?
That is why platinum is not the purpose of space miners. The first product from the asteroid will be something less obvious: water. For missile scientists water is a raw material for fuel. Running water from Earth into space requires a lot of fuel, which is why the whole concept becomes doubtful and closed. Fortunately, the water space a lot, and it is easier to move. Water can be removed from the clay minerals in the small common bodies - carbonaceous asteroids. After separation from the mineral water can be divided electricity (in the electrolysis process) for hydrogen and oxygen, and then used in the propellant.
rocket fuel production in space will reduce the cost of all other processes that take place in space, helping to launch the cycle of supply chains and extraterrestrial transport chain. However, before this happens, you need to find operators that can start the process.
Who will buy rocket fuel made from water asteroid? One of the concepts is to sell its telecommunications companies to launch satellites into orbit. Ten years ago, most of the satellites launched attached to a small upper stage of the rocket. It outputs a satellite in geosynchronous transfer orbit, which lies at the lowest point at 200 kilometers above the Earth's surface and in the higher - 36 000 kilometers. The spacecraft is aiming at the highest point, the satellite is released and begins to transmit data to users. Cost spent upper stage, however, is quite high.
Today, most of the owners of satellites placed a small electric motor on the spacecraft. It is cheaper and more efficient, but very weak. Needed from six to twelve months to the satellite entered the final orbit. Time is money - so the delay is costing the satellite owners of hundreds of millions of lost profits. asteroids Development will provide a third option. Developed by the company will sell the water space transportation company, which will use it to fill the space barge parked in Earth orbit. The barge will dock with the satellite launched to geosynchronous transfer orbit and bring it to the final orbit during the day.
Scientists have calculated that the cost of this service, including the return of capital, financial costs, insurance and profit for all parties will be less than the loss of profit in today's realities, and therefore it is a business case. The only problem is to find enough customers willing to use this service.
And here it may help space agencies such as NASA. If they develop in filling the storage space in order to reduce their costs of exploration of the Moon or Mars, and if they sign commercial contracts for the supply of water space, they will reduce the capital investment and the risk for new mining companies. In some ways, government agencies can ensure the early success of the private space industry.
Infrastructure for the development of the asteroid will help solve the serious problem regarding resources. In ten or twenty years the current system of satellites and fiber will not be able to cover the demand for wireless transmission of data and Internet. Solutions not yet, except for the creation of antennas in space that are too large to send by rockets, because there is nothing that can scale quickly enough to meet the demand for data transmission, which volumes will grow exponentially until the end of the century. Metal from the asteroid will not be sold in the world, because it is too expensive. He will remain in space, helping to transfer your valuable data in the digital market. There is also a view that the generation of solar energy in space in this century will be less than the energy production in the world by any known method. Then this energy is transmitted to the ground by means of microwaves. Moving most of the energy sector in space will free the planet from the environmental problems associated with energy production and supply chain of the energy itself. Even wind and solar energy requires involvement of large areas of land.
According to some estimates, the energy production outside the world can reduce industrial emissions by a quarter by 2100 already. And this is without exponentially increasing energy output and operate computers.
Keep in mind that none of these ideas does not imply the return of asteroid material to Earth for sale. Space mining real value will be in the creation of the space industry, which will benefit all of us. The main imports from space will be massless photons that carry data and power.
An important point that should understand our government leaders, is that investment in space mines - it is a safe bet for our future, one of the safest. NASA and other space agencies will be able to carry out more research and to increase the geopolitical presence at low cost. Saving the Earth and improve our quality of life will be just a nice addition.