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Friday, July 15, 2011

How Government Currency Being Valueless Could Stimulate Real Wealth Production in Space

   EU Referendum has this about the increasing value of gold (today at $1,580 a gram).
"One of the big US banks texted me today to say that if QE3 actually happens, we could see gold at $5,000 and silver at $1,000. I feel terribly sorry for anybody on fixed incomes tied to a fiat currency because they are not going to be able to buy things with that paper money".
What the bubble dwellers do not realise is that, while they are entranced with their soap opera, in their tiny, claustrophobic domain, the world order is falling apart.
  Which led me to respond
There are metallic asteroids weighing millions of tons that run to around 1% gold. We have the technology to go there. Indeed we have had that technology for 40 years.

I wonder who will be the world's (well the solar system's) first trillionaire?
  Forty years may seem overstating, since we had only got 3 non-claustrophobic men as far as the |Moon then. Unless you know that there was another option - the Orion nuclear rocket - that could have got mankind to  "Mars by 1965, Saturn by 1970" If it could be done then it can be done now.

  Even if false radiation fears prevent a nuclear launch they cannot l sensibly (I know sense has a limited influence) be used to argue against nuclear rockets in orbit. With Space-X promising to put the equivalent of a 737 in orbit by 2913/14, it would be possible to very quickly build a nuclear rocket there and send it wherever the customer wants.

  So looking at a million ton asteroid running to 1% gold, platinum or equivalently heavy metals.

  That is, in this metal alone, $14,300 billion   [1 million X 907,165 grams per ton X $1580 X 1%}. There are 10s of thousands of such asteroids.

  Of course if gold goes up to $5,000 a gram (actually if the dollar falls) the figures improve.

  OK if the market got flooded by that much the price would fall. However it does suggest that shares in Space-X or any other sensible space development company are literally worth more than gold.

  The fall of the Potemkin village that the EU/US has become should not lead to a real loss in wealth but should act as a stimulus to real wealth production space and the other technologies that have been artificially held back. My personal bet is that gold will nit ultimately be the basis of money but a guarantee to supply a fixed quantity of electricity from orbit will. Since power satellites are beyond the jurisdiction of terrestrial governments that would put them in an interesting and deserved position of weakness. There are also many other things which money could be valued in , much more reliable than government's promise to pay the bearer on demand.

   This Wikipedia article on asteroid mining repays reading  I must admit I was not aware that
In fact, all the gold, cobalt, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium and ruthenium that we now mine from the Earth's crust, and that are essential for economic and technological progress, came originally from the rain of asteroids that hit the Earth after the crust cooled

  Going and getting it seems a no-brainer. The sooner the better.

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Hi, Neil-- I have studied this problem for a number of years, and if such rich asteroids exist they are way above 99th percentile. Typical values I have seen for an iron-nickel meteorite are more like 20ppm for ALL platinum group metals, .5 ppm silver, .5 ppm gold. (Obviously half of samples might be richer) Other kinds of meteorites also have some content, concentrated in the iron fraction (they are iron loving)

This is still nothing to sneeze at (richer than most gold ores on Earth and the WHOLE THING is like that) and can produce exactly the effect you say, but it will mean massive mining works in space, not simply snag a random rock and get out 1% gold.
But it can be done and I believe there are ways to make ore concentrate with 10,000 times the raw intensity. In the tradeoff between shipping more massive works to distant asteroids and processing time constraints my studies show certain on site methods of concentrate production will probably be the best choice in the beginning. But yes I think someone could make a lot of money if you kept costs low enough.
Thanks Joseph I know you know the facts. 20ppm and about half the valuable ones reduces profits a thousandfold. Nonetheless if you can't make trillionaires, billionaires isn't bad.

And as you say that is the typical value so some are bound to be a lot better. Even way less than 1% would be well worth looking for, though that would statistically probably mean no earth-grazer asteroids.
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