There’s platinum in them there spacerocks

Still wondering what the business model might be for commercial space operations, beyond sight-seeing tourist flights, inflatable hotels and space-truckin’ logistics missions on behalf of beleagured nation-state space programs? Well, where there’s rare resources, there’s money to be made… and asteroids are eminently reachable with current technologies, as well as full of rare element goodies that we have little of here on Earth.

Last one to write a FiftyFortyniners-in-space novella is a rotten egg! (Note for Ben Bova and others: previously published works are not eligible.)

8 thoughts on “There’s platinum in them there spacerocks”

  1. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could get rare metals from space? People in Africa might not have to die to insure that we have state of the art computing appliances.

  2. It’s interesting. But the Moon is always within three light seconds time delay and so can be mined telerobotically. The same probably cannot be said for asteroids. So I would need to see more data to be convinced that setting up and conducting mining operations on an asteroid without telerobotics will prove to be less expensive than mining the Moon for the oxygen part of rocket fuel.

  3. Prof. John S. Lewis published a book on this in 1997 (Mining the Sky). And it’s not just platinums; one physicist of my acquaintance thinks we can get helium 3 from the regolith on the Moon and on some of the asteroids. It could be a tremendous power source. And then there are all those spent comets. I’ve been putting that in my SF for awhile now, but it would be nice if it moved into science fact from science fiction.

  4. Oh, and Paul, I think it’s Fortyniners, not Fiftyniners. The Gold Rush was sparked by the end in 1848 of the U.S. war with (or invasion of) Mexico, which gave us California (and a bunch of other places). Ergo, Fortyniners.

  5. Whether the Moon or asteroids, some human presence will still be required. Eventually, something needs maintenance that can’t be done by another remote machine. (And if it were that straightforward, we’d see more robotic mining on Earth. It’s not entirely safe to do here, either…)

    Helium-3 will be meaningless, however, until there’s a market of commercial fusion reactors that can use it. Otherwise it’s like uranium in 1900.

    Here’s some other thoughts on extraterrestrial resources:

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