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Wednesday, April 28, 2010


From Our weird & wonderful future:

"Eros is a typical stony asteroid. One of thousands easily reached by spacecraft launched from Earth...

In the 2,900 cubic kms of Eros, there is more aluminium, gold, silver, zinc and other base and precious metals than have ever been excavated in history or indeed, could ever be excavated from the upper layers of the Earth's crust. A cautious estimated suggests 20,000 million tons of aluminum along with similar amounts of gold, platinum and other rarer metals.

That is just in one asteroid and not a very large one at that. There are thousands of asteroids out there.

What is it worth? The gold alone is worth billions of dollars at today's prices (which would probably crash if you suddenly tried to sell all the gold on Eros at once!). The other metals such as platinum are even more expensive.

The technology to mine asteroids for the most part exists today. What is lacking are the financial resources to carry out such endeavors along with commercial entities willing to tackle the job."
And from

"to entrepreneur Jim Benson, these space rocks are this millennium’s Holy Grail.

Benson is chief executive of SpaceDev, a Poway, California-based commercial space exploration and development company that plans to one day launch a robot craft, or a Near Earth Asteroid Prospector (NEAP), to an asteroid. Once there, it would land instruments to take photographs and scientific readings to detect the presence of such precious commodities as platinum, gold, cobalt and water.

"The wealth out there is beyond imagination," Benson said.

In fact, the total amount of resources available in the heart of the Asteroid belt -- which exists between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter -- is staggering. There are enough raw materials to maintain a human population of the hundreds of trillions, or 1 million times the maximum capacity that can fit on Earth, says John Lewis, professor of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and co-director of the Space Engineering Research Center."

Reminds me of somebody who suggested 6 years ago that Scotland or Britain put up a £20 million X-Prize which would give our country a head start, both in technical capability & in any legal claim, in the development of these multi-trillions.

We would either be well on the way to having this won by some small robotic probe or indeed it would have been achieved by now.

The LibDems had asked for "blue sky ideas" for something that would give their conference a little life but I was subsequently advised that the Executive committee had been "rolling around the floor laughing at it" (an interesting visual image but possibly only a metaphor). To be fair to the LudDims no other UK party has been more forward looking. Perhaps in another 6 years they will think it a good idea but be expalining that since Singapore or Dubai has already done it it is too late. More likely some other country will. Of course I pointed out at the time that if it didn't work there would be no cost so that there was no logical argument against it. There are still no logical arguments against X-Prizes but we are still waiting.

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