Mining of Asteroids: Something or Nothing?

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So a bunch of bigwig billionaires who seem short of ways to spend mountains of cash have gotten together and announced plans to mine asteroids–you know, huge barren bricks floating along in space. (No, this is not a joke.)

Does this idea make any sense? Setting aside mining for resources, we barely have rock samples from our own moon just 250,000 kilometers away. Generally, the large asteroids in our Solar System are located in a barren region between Mars and Jupiter, many months journey away.

Let’s examine a few problems here (I’ll try keep this math-free, this time):

  • Escaping the Earth’s gravity
  • Fighting the sun’s gravity–Moving away from the sun is like traveling “uphill”
  • Rendezvous and landing on an asteroid
  • Extracting substantial quantities of mineral ore, on an asteroid!
  • Slowing to a gentle reentry with the added mass of the minerals, from which we can recover usable…

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