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#1 2004-11-30 14:46:10

John Creighton
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From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 2,401
Website

Re: The Economics of Space Exploration

Currently there is little money to be made in space. This is partly due to the launch cost. There are many proposals to lower launch costs and clearly these will drastically change the economic prospects of space. The other alternative is ISRU (in-situ resource utilization). To compare this investment against current investments we must ask if we borrowed the money to pay for an ISRU process how much must it be able to produce to be economical in terms of shipping the same amount of product to LEO from earth. To do this we compare the cost of the interest payments to the cost of shipping the same product to LEO. Generally the interest payment is around 10% so for an ISRU process to be economical it must have a production output equal to 10% of its mass. This will be true regardless of the launch price.

The next question is once we have ISRU how quickly do launch prices drop.  This question depends on the nature of the ISRU and wither the products produced by the ISRU can be reinvested to expand the space infrastructure. One such product that has this reinvestment property is a space elevator. If a space elevator can be built cheaply enough using ISRU then the cargo delivered by the space elevator can be reinvested to build more space elevators. Such reinvestment could lead to an exponential fall in the cost to LEO until the price of the space elevator is nearly equal to its marginal operating cost.

Related Discussions:
Space Elevators and Pipelines

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Nuclear Transfer Vehicle Design

ENCOUNTER WITH EROS: THE NEAR-EARTH ASTEROID RENDEZVOUS MISSI

Carbon and Asteroid Prospectors: Economical Production in Space

Space Elevators: Absolutely Crucial?

The Love Asteroid

Usefull Links:

THE SPACE ELEVATOR - PHYSICAL PRINCIPLES -

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#2 2004-11-30 15:12:07

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,729

Re: The Economics of Space Exploration

Other than what you have talked about the only other items of value are those things that are in small quantities here on Earth and those of items of great value( gold, Diamonds ect..) but cost of getting these things from space to return to Earth must be less than the cost of doing so here.

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#3 2004-11-30 15:30:45

John Creighton
Member
From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 2,401
Website

Re: The Economics of Space Exploration

Other than what you have talked about the only other items of value are those things that are in small quantities here on Earth and those of items of great value( gold, Diamonds ect..) but cost of getting these things from space to return to Earth must be less than the cost of doing so here.

I bet you could drop it down geniuses style. Snatch and grab optional. There are diamonds on asteroids due to impacts between C type asteroids. The key is to be able to get their cheaply and extract them cheaply. The extraction will depend on the level of automation. I think for transport nuclear thermal is good enough. Solar electric might be sufficient for diamonds but probably not good enough for space elevator construction. I think we will find in the near future C type NEA to be very valuable.

Perhaps diamond extraction would justify the initial robotic presence on the asteroid. Perhaps some of this same equipment could later use for carbon and water processing. . I wonder what you could sell the space diamonds for. Would they be more or less valuable then earth diamonds (natural or man made).

Here is the line: “I got you this rare jewel from the deepest reaches of space to show how rare and precious our love is.” Sweet or nutty?

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#4 2004-11-30 17:04:29

Grypd
Member
From: Scotland, Europe
Registered: 2004-06-07
Posts: 1,862

Re: The Economics of Space Exploration

The biggest cap is our launch costs from Earth upwards. I am a proponent of Insitu material using but it only reduces Long term costs but most plans we are currently doing are short term.

So unless we can reduce the costs of travel TOO space we will be reasonably stuck with a scenario where the economy is simply a drain and the benefits are not too tenable ie science and people factors.

And Diamonds will soon be worth a lot less than they are now, this is if the russian process for making them comes to fruitition and they turn out clear.


Chan eil mi aig a bheil ùidh ann an gleidheadh an status quo; Tha mi airson cur às e.

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#5 2004-11-30 17:45:41

RobS
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From: South Bend, IN
Registered: 2002-01-15
Posts: 1,701
Website

Re: The Economics of Space Exploration

Has anyone seen information about impacts making diamonds? I doubt the impact pressures last long enough to make anything bigger than fractions of mllimeters.

Platinum group metals seem to be the best hope for making money, but one must find asteroids that are enriched in them. Ataxites seem to be about ten times richer than ordinary nickel-iron asteroids, which are about 1 part in 30,000 PGMs. So ataxites, which are rich in nickel, are closer to 1 part in 3,000 PGMs. That's still a lot of digging; 3,000 tonnes of ore to get 1 tonne of PGMs. But that one tonne is worth about 20 million dollars. The problem is importing the carbon and other materials to refine the 3,000 tonnes of ore. This is the weak link in extracting PGMs from the moon as well (which Dennis Wingo recently pushed in a book). It may be that Mars is the best place for PGM refining for quite a while, since water and CO2 are abundant and there are 50,000,000 square miles of meteor craters, some of which must have been made by ataxites.

           -- RobS

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#6 2004-11-30 17:56:12

BWhite
Member
From: Chicago, Illinois
Registered: 2004-06-16
Posts: 2,635

Re: The Economics of Space Exploration

Currently there is little money to be made in space.

Use the settlement of space as the central theme of brand creation. Link to an Interbrand paper.

Today, the fastest way to make money is with intangible assets. Mining and manufacture are late 19th & early 20th centry business models. Agriculture was the primary 18th and early 19th century business model.

Creating brand identities is the easiest and fastest way to make high profit margins in the 21st century.

Public support for space is a mile wide and an inch deep. All you need is that inch if they can support you by purchasing products that support space settlement.

A full length article is in process.


Give someone a sufficient why and they can endure just about any how

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#7 2004-12-01 08:55:54

John Creighton
Member
From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 2,401
Website

Re: The Economics of Space Exploration

Creating brand identities is the easiest and fastest way to make high profit margins in the 21st century.

Maybe but mineral resources I think are a more reliable source of revenue. Barring any huge mine find I think the resources price should stay relatively stable. If the company can do something cleaver in space then any brand then the benefit in terms of brand creation should be that much more. As opposed to something like Nike, are shoes cost so much because we waste money in space. Besides any high level economy first needs the resource side and then the industry side to support high level service and marketing sectors.

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#8 2004-12-01 14:46:55

John Creighton
Member
From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 2,401
Website

Re: The Economics of Space Exploration

A Conversation* with Dennis Wingo

Dennis Wingo has become a leading innovator in private space development, especially with regard to commercial operations that take place in space. His company SkyCorp, for example, put forward the first serious proposal to do spacecraft assembly in space. His SkySats would be built on the International Space Station and released to form a constellation of satellites to provide low cost broadband Internet access worldwide.

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#9 2004-12-01 14:51:43

John Creighton
Member
From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Registered: 2001-09-04
Posts: 2,401
Website

Re: The Economics of Space Exploration

Diamonds from outer space - diamonds found in meteor craters;

What do you get when a massive comet collides with Earth? Billions of diamonds! Scientists really "dig" this dazzling phenomenon.

Science isn't always glitter and glitz. But in a while, scientists discover something truly spectacular--like diamonds! Recently, geologists (earth scientists) discovered billions of diamonds where no one before. had thought to search. They found the diamonds in craters, basins pounded into Earth's surface when speeding rocks from outer space smash into our planet.

Traditionally, mining companies dig up diamonds from deep below Earth's surface. But the newly discovered diamonds are a sparkling surprise. They lie encased in rock right on the surface, says Virgil. Sharpton, a geophysicist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. Scientists have dubbed their discovery "impact diamonds" because they form during impacts of comets, asteroids, or meteors.

Despite the huge size of these treasure troves, scientists don't expect to strike it rich any time soon. "Most of the impact diamonds are smaller than the head of a pin," Sharpton says. Some are microscopic--tinier than viruses! As one scientist jokes, "They'd make good engagement rings for an ant, but Liz Taylor wouldn't be very impressed."

Still, scientists are excited because the impact diamonds tell a tale about Earth's history.

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#10 2015-07-26 16:42:51

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 19,729

Re: The Economics of Space Exploration

Another Shifting topic fixed......

After a quick read there is other things that apply to insitui use....

Regolith-Derived Heat Shield for Planetary Body Entry and Descent System with In-Situ Fabrication

Architecture benchmark is the Mars NASA Design Reference
Architecture, DRA 5.0, modified to use Mars entry heat
shields fabricated on Phobos or Deimos.
• With a TPS mass of 40.7 metric tons and a gear ratio* of 5, the
LEO to Mars Mass savings is 203.5 metric tons.
• Using expendable launch vehicles (---$8,800/kg) the cost
savings per Mars mission is $1.79 Billion.
• With 10 crew rotations (20 missions) in a Mars campaign
using the regolith heat shields, the total cost savings would be
about $35.8 billion.
* Gear ratio is the ratio of mass required in LEO to deliver one mass unit to Mars orbit.

Summary
• Building a viable heat shield in-situ from regolith will greatly
reduce the transport costs of Missions to Mars or other bodies
where atmospheric entry is required.
• Three in-situ fabrication techniques are being investigated to
build the heat shields.
• Optimal methodology, shield structure, density, and thermal
conductivity are being developed.
• This technology can be applied to other regolith based
structural components such as habitats, berms, and landing
pads.

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