Archive | Space Mining

Lunar gold rush: can Moon mining ever take off? – by Matthew Hall (Mining Technology – July 6, 2020)

https://www.mining-technology.com/

The Moon could harbour more metals than had previously been believed beneath its surface, according to research conducted using NASA data. The new revelations about the Moon’s geological composition may affect theories as to the celestial body’s origin, but the news will also pique the interest of aspiring Moon miners.

The US Government has recently floated the idea of mining the Moon, but what does this new development mean for a lunar gold rush?

New evidence that the Moon may be rich in metals such as iron and titanium was discovered using data from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administrations’ (NASA) Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft. Continue Reading →

The Space Business Is About to Get Really Serious – by Michael R. Strain (Bloomberg News – May 26, 2020)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Wednesday is looking like a watershed moment in history. The scheduled afternoon launch of a SpaceX Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 4:33 p.m. would mark the first time a privately owned vehicle takes astronauts into orbit.

Elon Musk, the billionaire space entrepreneur and chief executive of Tesla Inc., founded SpaceX in 2002. If the launch succeeds — bad weather could push it to Saturday — it would be the company’s crowning achievement to date.

Musk’s hope is to enable the colonization of Mars. Delivering two astronauts to the International Space Station suggests that his grand ambition might be more than a pipe dream. Continue Reading →

OPINION: The United States is going back to space. But we have some things to figure out on Earth first – by Michael Byers (Globe and Mail – May 23, 2020)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Michael Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law. Aaron Boley holds the Canada Research Chair in Planetary Astronomy. They teach at the University of British Columbia and co-direct the Outer Space Institute.

“That is a spacecraft, sir. We do not refer to it as a capsule,” said astronaut Alan Shepard, as portrayed by Scott Glenn in The Right Stuff.

Mr. Shepard was a pilot, not a passenger. In 1961, he became the first American to reach space; 10 years later, he walked on the moon.

This month, the United States returns to human spaceflight after a nine-year hiatus. There is much to celebrate, including in Canada, where the Canadian Space Agency works closely with NASA. Yet these celebrations should be tempered with caution, as the Trump administration seizes the moment to challenge long-standing rules of international space law – and demands acquiescence from Canada. Continue Reading →

‘Star Trek, not Star Wars:’ NASA releases basic principles for moon exploration pact – by Joey Roulette (Reuters U.S. – May 15, 2020)

https://www.reuters.com/

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – NASA on Friday set the stage for a global debate over the basic principles governing how humans will live and work on the moon, as it released the main tenets of an international pact for moon exploration called the Artemis Accords.

The accords seek to establish ‘safety zones’ that would surround future moon bases to prevent what the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration called “harmful interference” from rival countries or companies operating in close proximity.

They would also permit companies to own the lunar resources they mine, a crucial element in allowing NASA contractors to convert the moon’s water ice for rocket fuel or mine lunar minerals to construct landing pads. Continue Reading →

Canada urged not to endorse U.S. approach to space mining – by Steven Chase (Globe and Mail – April 20, 2020)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

The Canadian government is being urged not to endorse a U.S. approach to mining in space that experts warn could result in countries setting their own rules for extraterrestrial resource extraction.

Seven Canadian international space policy and law experts have written a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne asking Canada instead to back the development of a multilateral treaty among as many countries as possible to set uniform rules.

They’re responding to an executive order signed April 6 by U.S. President Donald Trump that rejects the idea of outer space as an asset that is outside of national jurisdiction. Continue Reading →

Trump signs executive order to support moon mining, tap asteroid resources – by Mike Wall (Space.com – April 6, 2020)

https://www.space.com/

The U.S. sees a clear path to the use of moon and asteroid resources.

The water ice and other lunar resources that will help the United States establish a long-term human presence on the moon are there for the taking, the White House believes.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order today (April 6) establishing U.S. policy on the exploitation of off-Earth resources. That policy stresses that the current regulatory regime — notably, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty — allows the use of such resources.

This view has long held sway in U.S. government circles. For example, the United States, like the other major spacefaring nations, has not signed the 1979 Moon Treaty, which stipulates that non-scientific use of space resources be governed by an international regulatory framework. And in 2015, Congress passed a law explicitly allowing American companies and citizens to use moon and asteroid resources. Continue Reading →

Unstable Mineral Supply Threatens Electric Car, Green Projects, Justifies Undersea, Space Mining; Report – by Neil Winton (Forbes Magazine – January 3, 2019)

https://www.forbes.com/

The advent of the electric car is threatened by a few known knowns like range anxiety, high prices, and a thin recharging network, but now, according to a report from the University of Sussex, lurking in the background are possible shortages of the raw materials at the heart of this low-carbon revolution, which threaten to derail the whole project.

Making sure of adequate supplies is so important, mining under the sea, or even on other planets, would be justified, according to the report.

The automotive industry in Europe has been spending massively to embrace the electric car. On Thursday, Europe’s number one auto maker, Volkswagen, raised the stakes of its electric plans by bringing forward its target of producing one million electric cars a year by two years, to the end of 2023. By 2025 this will reach 1.5 million a year. Continue Reading →

In the ‘Star Wars’ Economy, One Thing Doesn’t Pay – by Adam Minter (Bloomberg News – December 23, 2019)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

(Bloomberg Opinion) — Junk is surprisingly pervasive in “Star Wars,” playing an understated role in nearly every film in the series. In “The Phantom Menace,” we meet young Anakin Skywalker, the future Darth Vader, working at a small electronics scrap yard and repair shop.

In “A New Hope,” Luke Skywalker’s uncle buys R2-D2 and C-3PO from a group of Jawas, a species that drive massive, sand-crawling junk trucks. The recently released “Rise of Skywalker” is largely a coming-of-age story for Rey, the last of the Jedi, who spent her youth scavenging electronic scrap on Jakku, a remote outer planet.

As a third-generation descendent of earthbound scrap-metal recyclers, I’ve subjected myself to repeated “Star Wars” viewings (even of the bad films), partly just to spot all the junkyard tidbits. Over the years, I’ve developed a theory or two about the waste and recycling economy in the series, and enjoyed sharing it with (primarily) other junkyard descendants. Continue Reading →

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 →