Archive | Space Mining

SpaceX Unveils Silvery Vision to Mars: ‘It’s Basically an I.C.B.M. That Lands’ – by Kenneth Chang (New York Times – September 29, 2019)

https://www.nytimes.com/

“Mr. Musk originally had planned to use high-tech carbon fiber,
but switched to denser stainless steel. It is cheaper, easier to
work with, becomes stronger in the ultracold temperatures of space
and has a higher melting temperature that can more easily withstand
the heat of re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.”

BOCA CHICA VILLAGE, Tex. — As you drive east along Texas State Highway 4, it looks like a giant, shiny and pointy grain silo is rising out of the scrubby flatland at the tip of southern Texas. But it is the first version of a spaceship design that Elon Musk, the entrepreneur and founder of the rocket company SpaceX, hopes will be humanity’s first ride to Mars.

Within a month or two, he says optimistically, this prototype of the Starship spacecraft — without anyone aboard — will blast off to an altitude of 12 miles, then return to the ground in one piece.

“It’s going to be pretty epic to see that thing take off and come back,” Mr. Musk said late on Saturday at a SpaceX facility outside Brownsville, Tex., where Starship is being built. Continue Reading →

That’s no moon: Before these NASA astronauts went to space, they went to Sudbury – by Claude Sharma (TVO – The Agenda – July 22, 2019)

https://www.tvo.org/

In the 1970s, the agency sent astronauts to northeastern Ontario to prepare for their trips to the moon — and helped drive the region’s scientific aspirations

SUDBURY — In 1971, astronauts John Young and Charles Duke loaded up with equipment —backpacks, radios, cameras — and walked along rocky ledges, communicating their movements as if to a home base.

Later that year, they’d do the same thing nearly 385,000 kilometres away as astronauts on the Apollo 16 moon mission. On this day, though, they were in the Sudbury Basin, practising for the real thing.

“Once they did their traverse, we would go over what they saw,” remembers Don Phipps, a local geologist who helped facilitate the training. “One of the objects of this visit is that when they got on the moon, they could report back with some kind of knowledge of what they saw on the ground.” Continue Reading →

Column One: 50 years after Apollo 11, the moon’s allure still resonates – by David Shribman (Los Angeles Times – July 11, 2019)

https://www.latimes.com/

Loudon Wainwright Jr., father and grandfather of songwriters and musicians, was a prominent literary balladeer of 1960s culture, and — just as Americans might tire of 50-year commemorations of humankind’s greatest space adventure — he felt a creeping sense of tedium, almost boredom, at Cape Kennedy as he awaited the launch of Apollo 11.

But the night before the liftoff, Wainwright heard this observation:

“What we will have attained when Neil Armstrong steps down upon the moon is a completely new step in the evolution of man. For the first time, life will leave its planetary cradle, and the ultimate destiny of man will no longer be confined to these familiar continents that we have known so long.”

Those words were spoken by Wernher von Braun, and they jolted Wainwright, stirred him, as he put it in a Life magazine essay, “in ways that no amount of engineering brilliance, astronautical competence, and the cool confidence of the entire Apollo project ever could.’’ Continue Reading →

What Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin taught us about ourselves – by Maura Forrest (National Post – July 20, 2019)

Wiki image may be subject to copyright.

https://nationalpost.com/

The moon landing wasn’t about Armstrong or Aldrin; it was about us. Fifty years on, the two men who took those first steps are extensions of us, partly real, partly imagined

Norman Mailer once wrote of Neil Armstrong that he was “as much a spirit as a man,” “of all the astronauts the man nearest to being saintly.”

This was gleaned from a press conference Armstrong gave with his fellow Apollo 11 crew members, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, on July 5, 1969, less than two weeks before the launch of the spaceflight that first put humans on the moon.

Armstrong was “extraordinarily remote,” Mailer wrote. “Something particularly innocent or subtly sinister was in the gentle remote air. If he had been a young boy selling subscriptions at the door, one grandmother might have warned her granddaughter never to let him in the house; another would have commented, ‘That boy will go very far.’ He was apparently in communion with some string in the universe others did not think to unravel.” Continue Reading →

Elon Musk: Revolutionising Space Transportation with Stainless Steel – by Benjamin Spilker (Matmatch.com – July 12, 2019)

https://matmatch.com

SpaceX has come a long way. After being shocked by the absence of NASA’s concrete plans for a manned mission to Mars in the early 2000s, Elon Musk, the well-known entrepreneur and engineer, founded SpaceX in order to establish affordable access to space.

After spending a couple of years on designing, building and testing the first privately developed orbital rockets, the fourth launch of the Falcon 1 rocket into orbit was successful, marking the dawn of private space transportation.

With its proven capabilities, SpaceX was awarded a substantial contract from NASA for supply missions to the International Space Station, providing the funding for a rapid development of new launch vehicles. Continue Reading →

Metals in Space: How Superalloys Changed the Rocket Landscape – by Benjamin Spilker (Matmatch.com – March 26, 2019)

https://matmatch.com/

There is a high chance that a large variety of metals is in your proximity at this very moment. Metals are found and used virtually everywhere, from the iron in your red blood cells to the rare earth metals in the screen you are reading these lines from.

Many of the greatest advances in technology can be traced back to the exceptional characteristics that can be achieved by manufacturing parts from metal or alloying different metals to obtain even more superior materials.

Apart from the materials themselves, the manufacturing techniques evolved from hammering copper in approximately the 6th millennium BC [1] to, more recently, 3D printing of titanium. Continue Reading →

Sudbury was a stand-in for the moon and other little-known (Canadian) things about the Apollo program – by Nicole Mortillaro (CBC News – July 12, 2019)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/

While Canadian astronauts may not have visited the moon yet, our achievements are part of Apollo history

In a few days, the world will mark the 50th anniversary of humans first setting foot on the moon. Apollo 11 was an ambitious mission that would see three men — Neil Armstrong, Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin and Michael Collins — head to the moon, with the ultimate goal of walking on its surface.

The almost-Herculean task on July 20, 1969 wasn’t only made possible by the effort put forth by the three men, with Armstrong and Aldrin being the first men to set foot on another world. It was also thanks to more than 400,000 people who worked behind the scenes.

And you may be surprised to know that Canada played an important role in the ambitious project that took humans far from home. Here are a few facts about Canada’s role in this historic mission. Continue Reading →

The Next Neil Armstrong May Be Chinese as Moon Race Intensifies – by Bruce Einhorn, Justin Bachman, Hannah Dormido and Adrian Leung (Bloomberg News – July 17, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Fifty years after Neil Armstrong took his one small step, there’s a renewed race to put human beings back on the moon⁠—and the next one to land there may send greetings back to Earth in Chinese.

China, which didn’t have a space exploration program when Apollo 11 landed in the Sea of Tranquility on July 20, 1969, is planning a series of missions to match that achievement. China could have its own astronauts walking on the moon’s surface and working in a research station at its south pole sometime in the 2030s.

On the way there, they may stop over at a space station scheduled for assembly starting next year. Those ambitions trouble President Donald Trump’s administration, which is locked in trade and technology-transfer disputes with China that raise fears of a new Cold War like the one between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that spawned the Apollo program in the 1960s. Continue Reading →

Mission to rare metal asteroid could spark space mining boom – by Denise Chow (NBC News – July 10, 2019)

https://www.nbcnews.com/

All that glitters … may be gold. At least that’s what scientists think about a shiny, Massachusetts-size asteroid that may be chock-full of precious metals.

NASA recently approved a mission to visit the metallic space rock, which orbits the sun in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The mission — the first to a metal asteroid — could reveal secrets about our solar system’s earliest days while setting the stage for a future space mining industry.

“We think the metallic class of asteroids are the remains of ancient cores of planets,” said Jim Bell, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University in Tempe and deputy principal investigator of NASA’s Psyche mission. Continue Reading →

That Giant Asteroid of Gold Won’t Make Us Richer – by Noah Smith (Bloomberg News – July 8, 2019)

https://www.bloombergquint.com/

(Bloomberg Opinion) — Rejoice, people of Earth! News outlets are reporting that NASA is planning to visit an asteroid made of gold and other precious metals!

At current prices, the minerals contained in asteroid 16 Psyche are said to be worth $700 quintillion — enough to give everyone on the planet $93 billion. We’re all going to be richer than Jeff Bezos! OK, now for the bad news: This isn’t going to happen. Yes, 16 Psyche and other asteroids will probably be mined for their metals.

But once those metals start hitting the market in large quantities, they’re unlikely to be precious for much longer. As any introductory economics student knows, price is a function of relative scarcity — flood the market with gold, and it will go from being a rarity to being a common decoration. Supply goes up, price goes down. Continue Reading →

China’s New Wealth-Creation Scheme: Mining the Moon – by Jack H. Burke (National Review/Yahoo News – June 13, 2019)

https://news.yahoo.com/

On January 3, 2019, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) soft-landed a spacecraft, the Chang’e-4 (嫦娥四号) robotic lander and rover, on the far side of the moon, the first such landing in history.

Chang’e-4, named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology, touched down in the Von Kármán crater in the lunar southern hemisphere and then released its rover, Yutu-2 (玉兔二号), to explore the lunar landscape.

Yutu-2 has proven a great success. As of June 10, the rover, named after the “Jade Rabbit,” a companion of the moon goddess, had traveled over 212 meters across the lunar surface, giving the far side of the moon “its first set of rover tracks,” as Mike Wall put it last January. Continue Reading →

Lunar goldrush: Can mining the moon become big business? – by Tom Hoggins (The Telegraph – May 16, 2019)

https://premium.telegraph.co.uk/

Amid the recent boom in extraterrestrial exploration, a new frontier for private companies and space agencies appears to have emerged: mining the moon for precious resources. Once thought to be a beautiful but largely barren rock, the moon is now believed by some to be a treasure trove of rich materials that could play a vital role in the Earth’s future.

For instance, space agencies hoping to mine the moon say oxygen in its regolith – or lunar soil – could be used to power life support and fuel rockets in space, while rare metals could be ferried back to Earth to be used in everything from gadgets to construction.

What has got the industry most excited, however, is the Helium-3 isotope that is present in moondust, which has been touted as a possible key to safe nuclear energy. But despite its hidden treasure, is mining the moon a viable commercial project? Continue Reading →

Trump seeks extra $1.6 billion in NASA spending to return to moon by 2024 – by Joey Roulette (Reuters U.S. – May 13, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration asked Congress on Monday to increase NASA spending next year by an extra $1.6 billion as a “down payment” to accommodate the accelerated goal of returning Americans to the surface of the moon by 2024.

The increased funding request, announced by President Donald Trump on Twitter, comes nearly two months after Vice President Mike Pence declared the objective of shortening by four years NASA’s previous timeline for putting astronauts back on the moon for the first time since 1972.

The proposed increase would bring NASA’s total spending level for the 2020 fiscal year to $22.6 billion. The bulk of the increase is earmarked for research and development of a human lunar landing system, according to a summary provided by NASA. Continue Reading →

FLY ME TO THE MOON: Germany eyes slice of lucrative space market – by Andrea Shalal (Reuters – April 28, 2019)

https://graphics.reuters.com/

Facing tough competition from China, the United States and even tiny Luxembourg, Germany is racing to draft new laws and attract private investment to secure a slice of an emerging space market that could be worth $1 trillion a year by the 2040s.

The drive to give Germany a bigger role in space comes as European, Asian and U.S. companies stake out ground in an evolving segment that promises contracts for everything from exploration to mining of outer-space resources.

Firms likely to benefit from any future spending rise in Germany include Airbus, which co-owns the maker of Europe’s Ariane space rockets, and Bremen-based OHB. Continue Reading →

THE DRIFT: The cold, hard realities of mining on the moon: Greg Baiden Sudbury mining engineer takes pragmatic approach to space mining – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – April 10, 2019)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Greg Baiden once introduced himself at a NASA space mining conference in California as a “recovering asteroid miner.” The CEO of Penguin Automated Systems had been enlisted by the agency to bring a healthy dose of pragmatism to a roomful of high-minded scientists and entrepreneurs about the realities of mining in a hostile and extreme environment.

After listening to more than his share of science fiction stories over the years, Baiden felt he had to inject some Sudbury sensibility to the wider discussion.

So to establish his credentials, Baiden began his presentation by mentioning that his former employer, Inco (now Vale), has been mining the remnants of an asteroid impact in Sudbury for the past 130 years. Continue Reading →