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Thread: Asteroid Mining?

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    Default Asteroid Mining?

    The class struggle has become galactic.

    Tech tycoons in asteroid mining venture

    Google bosses Larry Page and Eric Schmidt join Avatar director James Cameron in megamillion-dollar plan to make sci-fi reality




    A group of hi-tech tycoons including Google's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt have teamed up with explorer and film-maker James Cameron in a venture to mine nearby asteroids, hoping to turn science fiction into real profits.

    The megamillion dollar plan is to use commercially built robotic ships to squeeze rocket fuel and valuable minerals such as platinum and gold out of the rocks that routinely whizz by Earth, with the aim of having a space-based fuel station up and running by 2020.

    The inaugural step, to be achieved in the next 18 to 24 months, would be to launch the first of a series of private telescopes that would search for rich asteroid targets.

    The entrepreneurs announcing the project in Seattle on Tuesday have a track record of making big money off ventures into space. Company founders Eric Anderson and Peter Diamandis pioneered the idea of selling rides into space to tourists and, Diamandis's company offers "weightless" airplane flights. Investors and advisers to the new company, Planetary Resources Inc of Seattle, include Google CEO Page, Google executive chairman Schmidt and Avatar director Cameron, who recently became the first person to make a solo voyage to the Mariana trench, the deepest part of the world's oceans.

    "It is the stuff of science fiction, but like in so many other areas of science fiction, it's possible to begin the process of making them reality," said former astronaut Thomas Jones, an adviser to the company.

    The mining, fuel processing and later refuelling would all be done without humans, Anderson said.

    The target-hunting telescopes would be tubes only a couple of feet long, weighing only a few kilograms and small enough to be held in your hand. They should cost less than $10m (£6.2m), company officials said.

    The idea that asteroids could be mined for resources has been around for years. Asteroids are the leftovers of a failed attempt to form a planet billions of years ago. Most of the remnants became the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, but some pieces were pushed out to roam the solar system.

    Asteroids are made mostly of rock and metal, and range from a few metres wide to nearly 10 miles long. The new venture targets the free-flying asteroids, seeking to extract from them the rare earth metals that are used in batteries, electronics and medical devices, Diamandis said.

    Water can be broken down in space to liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen for rocket fuel. However, water is very expensive to get off the ground, so the plan is to take it from an asteroid to a spot in space where it can be converted into fuel. From there, it can easily and cheaply be shipped to Earth orbit to refuel commercial satellites or spaceships from Nasa and other countries.

    In the past couple of years, Nasa and other space agencies have shifted their attention from the moon and other planets toward asteroids. Because asteroids don't have any substantial gravity, targeting them takes less fuel and money than going to the moon.

    There are probably 1,500 asteroids that pass near Earth that would be good initial targets. They are at least 50 metres wide, and Anderson figures 10% of them have water and other valuable minerals.

    "A depot within a decade seems incredible. I hope there will be someone to use it," said Andrew Cheng at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab, who was the chief scientist for a Nasa mission to an asteroid a decade ago. "And I have high hopes that commercial uses of space will become profitable beyond Earth orbit. Maybe the time has come."

    Diamandis and Anderson would not disclose how much the project will cost overall, but Diamandis said by building and launching quickly, the company expected to operate much more cheaply than Nasa.

    "Before we started launching people into space as private citizens, people thought that was a pie-in-the-sky idea," Anderson said. "We're in this for decades. But it's not a charity. And we'll make money from the beginning."
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    Why the fuck would these bastards want that useless prick Cameron's help? I mean, do they think he is an expert on robotics because he used a few unimaginative little rehashed schemes in that rubbish flick of his or what? Never mind, probably just the crash. Ugh, those people and their cross pollinating failure, bunch of inbred cappies.
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    They want Cameron's help cuz even unabashed turds turn to gold as soon as Cameron touches them.
    "Win, lose or draw...long as you squabble and you get down, that's gangsta."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Os Cangaceiros View Post
    They want Cameron's help cuz even unabashed turds turn to gold as soon as Cameron touches them.
    I think you're both wrong, I think once funded, up and running, Cameron is going to film it and it will become a new reality show on NatGeo.
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    Either that or the Discovery Channel.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Os Cangaceiros View Post
    Either that or the Discovery Channel.
    History Channel. Add a few fake alien artefacts to that old rock and it'll be a killer. You'll have kids turn up in schools all over the planet asking their teachers, what if there were ancient aliens mining asteroids?
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    Yay. lets colonize space and then claim all the important minerals for the elites and feed scraps to the toiling massess....
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    Quote Originally Posted by Takayuki View Post
    Why the fuck would these bastards want that useless prick Cameron's help? I mean, do they think he is an expert on robotics because he used a few unimaginative little rehashed schemes in that rubbish flick of his or what? Never mind, probably just the crash. Ugh, those people and their cross pollinating failure, bunch of inbred cappies.
    To be fair he is the only person to have ever made a solo dive to the bottom of the Challenger deep, and one of only 3 people to have been down there period. Also he has made expeditions to various shipwrecks including of course the Titanic, so if they were going to chose a well known film maker it makes sense they chose him.

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    God dammit. Another way for the rich to make money.
    Sci-Fi becoming real...Space Corporatism Elitism. Only the elite and wealthy will have access to space.
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    The attitudes here blow my mind.

    Why the fuck would these bastards want that useless prick Cameron's help?
    Because James Cameron has something that most people, even many governments, aren't willing to contribute to space exploration - a fuckload of money. My attitude is, space programs need the money, they routinely beg for it and get starved while bloated bourgeois oligarchies pump yet more money into bailouts and military programs. If a few venture capitalists, including James Cameron, are interested in putting up the damn money themselves, I say it's a good thing, even if it IS coming from capitalists.

    As far as why he's interested, James Cameron is interested for the same reason he's helped to fund deep sea expeditions and exploration - because he's a proponent of expanding exploration and scientific endeavours in the field. He's also been involved in lobbying for Mars-related stuff before I believe.

    Really, I'm not sure why y'all are so opposed to this. I think it's a great idea. Space exploration is important and if we can viably mine asteroids, so much the better, especially as we will not have to worry about environmental concerns, or health concerns, as mines on earth are so often problematic with.

    Even if we simply consider the impacts such a program will have on space exploration, and simply technology in our lives in a broad sense - many people don't realise the drastic impact on technology space programs have already had, from computing, to broadcasting, to aeronautical technology, etc. The ability to fly to an asteroid, land, get samples, and fly back, and the development along the way will provide much of value both on earth and in space.

    The more funding that goes into endeavours like this the better, regardless of the source (with the sole exception of military forces - I do not support or condone militarisation of space). It's also worth mentioning that this isn't just some random idea proposed by a single team - NASA is gearing towards such a mission as well, and the Japanese space agency has already sent probes to land on asteroids, take samples, and return to earth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Le Rouge
    Sci-Fi becoming real...Space Corporatism Elitism. Only the elite and wealthy will have access to space.
    Also I think you're getting ahead of yourself here. Currently only a tiny group of highly trained state employees have access to space, even considering the "space tourism" which Virgin planned to support but haven't gotten anything off the ground yet, and all that would be, is a low orbit flight.

    Furthermore, romanticism about "omg seeing the earth from orbit" aside what's really the big deal here? While I am a proponent of space exploration, this isn't Star Trek, it's reality, the year 2012, where space travel is extremely dangerous at best, and even when we develop the ability to send humans to an asteroid to collect samples, it isn't going to be some sort of trip that most people will want to go on, it's going to be an extremely dangerous endeavour. Even being IN space is bad for your health due to the negative effects of microgravity.

    You shouldn't be characterising this like it's some sort of viable mass transit idea or something - the idea of space travel being accessible to the masses like planes or cars, is absolutely absurd at best. It's a science fiction idea that isn't going to be achieved by venture capitalists, and likely one that we won't even see in the next hundred years, let alone by 2020 as these guys claim they will have their fuel depot built and launched by. It's a pipe dream, and it's one that nobody on earth today will ever live to see (in my opinion). Going into space long-term right now in 2012 requires a lot of training and some sort of scientific expertise, it's not something that it's even possible to make available to the masses, given the danger, the lack of technology, and the lack of fuel. If the world ends up like Star Wars in 2020 then you can trot out the ridiculous "space corporate elitism" statement, but until then it's just patently absurd.

    Space travel right now is by its very nature exclusive. Just because a few capitalists happen to be funding this program, it doesn't mean we should reject it. On the contrary - the more funding and development we can get into space travel and exploration, it will become less exclusive and safer. Issues of ownership and property in space will of course become important but are basically irrelevant, since no corporation exists that has the ability or capability to even put people beyond low earth orbit, let alone have some sort of ridiculous cyberpunk "colony of exploited workers on mars."

    Even if such colonies in space do come to exist, they won't be manned by workers, they will be manned by the same people that planned space colonies in orbit and on the moon are planned to have - astronauts, who are generally ex-military or scientists, and usually who have a massive amount of training and education. They aren't workers. If we ever do see proletarians exploited in space, it's NOT going to be in any of our lifetimes.
    Last edited by Yazman; 27th April 2012 at 13:57.
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    I can certainly see the usefulness of mining asteroids. I'm not opposed to it at all.

    I just don't get all that excited when some useless arseholes from Google and their fellow investors and bloody James Cameron's mouths water at the thought of future returns on investment and realisation of some sci-fi horrors. Even if good things come from it- I don't think I condemned it as such - I don't get that excited when thinking of their future space exploits.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Takayuki View Post
    I can certainly see the usefulness of mining asteroids. I'm not opposed to it at all.

    I just don't get all that excited when some useless arseholes from Google and their fellow investors and bloody James Cameron's mouths water at the thought of future returns on investment and realisation of some sci-fi horrors. Even if good things come from it- I don't think I condemned it as such - I don't get that excited when thinking of their future space exploits.
    I'm not super excited about that particular possibility - however it seems they are getting ahead of themselves. The problem with private groups like this is that usually they have profit as their long-term goal, which is unlikely in the extreme in this case, even if they do manage to produce a viable mining operation on an asteroid.

    It's also worth mentioning before people cry about "exploited space proletarians" - even if humans were the ones collecting samples and managing the mining, it is likely that their salaries would at least be in the hundreds of thousands (NASA's own astronauts start at $65k-100k) due to the nature of private sector employment. They also wouldn't be regular joes off the street - they would be extremely well trained and educated individuals.
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    I believe that theoretically, asterioid mining and space development is a useful thing. It could allow to take pressure completely off of Earth's environment while maintaining extensive heavy industry. Also, the rich could have space for all I care as long as they leave us the Earth

    But can space development really satisfy modern capitalism's hunger for expansion and investment opportunities? Every expedition to space requires huge investments and there's a real chance that this investment is completely lost. Space is simply that hostile environment. Basically every failed attempt means that the company is lost.

    Its sort of like the expeditions in early Age of Sail. If you win, you win big, if you lose, your'e gone.

    And none of this will alter the class dynamics on Earth. There are no "New Worlds" out there where the society's poor "reserve armies" could go. If the rich lose with a space venture, a sizable chunk of society's wealth is gone. If they win, they'll be even richer as before.

    I believe that a socialist society should develop the space by constructing an infrastructure first, bringing down the risks of space travel; but this would take generations.

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    I think it's exciting and it's got potential; it's just a shame it's capitalists doing it.

    But, because we live under capitalism, who else it going to do it? it's pointless wanting to postpone technoogical progress until after the revolution. technological progress happens alla time anyway; the bourgeoisie is always revolutionising the means of production. Resistance is futile!

    However if this does mean pain for proles then that's awful- but nothing new. But I think these ventures are gonna have to be robotic for a very long time (that's a given, of course), so it's not like there's going to be "space proles" or anything. Then again... Red Faction, here we come!
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    I'll sign up for space mining, if it pays well.
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    But why do they want some Hollywood director who probably has an extremely limited understanding of the actual science involved... and not actual physicists???
    Da Fok?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ColonelCossack View Post
    But why do they want some Hollywood director who probably has an extremely limited understanding of the actual science involved... and not actual physicists???
    Because...money.

    Cameron probably has too much money that he doesn't even know what to do with it since Titanic, Avatar, etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Takayuki View Post
    History Channel. Add a few fake alien artefacts to that old rock and it'll be a killer. You'll have kids turn up in schools all over the planet asking their teachers, what if there were ancient aliens mining asteroids?
    I couldn't help myself....
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