Archive | Space Mining

Moon exploration will reduce the shortage of rare earth metals – by Aram Ter-Ghazaryan (Russia Beyond the Headlines – October 26, 2014)

http://rbth.com/

Russian scientists are already referring to the Moon as a hub for flights to other planets. However, the main goal in exploring Earth’s satellite is to expand the production of rare earth metals.

As part of the Federal Space Program, Moon exploration operations will be launched in 2016. In 2018 the first spacecraft will be sent to the Moon to deliver comet material back to Earth. A manned flight is scheduled for 2030-2031. Future plans include the mining of rare earth metals required for the development of high-tech industries.

Looking for comet substances on the lunar south pole

Scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Moscow State University Sternberg Astronomical Institute and the Russian Federal Space Agency are participating in this Moon exploration project.

The first spacecraft to be sent to the Moon will be relatively simple. According to Vladislav Shevchenko, the Sternberg Institute’s Head of the Department of Lunar and Planetary Research, this is because the Russian space program has not carried out a Moon landing for over 40 years. Continue Reading →

Is It Legal to Mine Asteroids? – by Jon Kelvey (Slate Magazine – October 13, 2014)

http://www.slate.com/

How space law could cause conflicts—or cooperation—on Earth

There’s gold in them thar skies, or at least some platinum and a substantial amount of water, according to hopeful space prospectors. Over the past several years, a few companies have announced plans to mine asteroids. If successful, they could reinvigorate earthbound industries with infusions of rare earth minerals.

They could also catalyze a new phase of space exploration by creating orbiting caches of material to build spacecraft as well as water, which could fuel them. Even if these efforts fail, they could lead to new technologies and lower the cost of a rocket ride to orbit.

Of course, there are technical challenges. A vast, radiation-filled vacuum separates the space entrepreneurs from the space rocks of their ambitions, and any actual mining is many years away and might fail. But the current crop of space entrepreneurs are far more credible than the cranks of yesteryear, people who might have sold plots of lunar real estate in the days before the Apollo missions.

There are tech giants with proven track records, such as X Prize Founder Peter Diamandis, whose Planetary Resources boasts James Cameron as well as Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt as investors. There is a real possibility that asteroid mining could become a reality within our lifetimes.

That possibility raises some very interesting questions. First and foremost, it’s not entirely clear whether mining and selling asteroid stuff is even legal, which could really hamper the whole enterprise. Continue Reading →

Moon First—Mine the Asteroids Later – by Paul D. Spudis (Air Space Magazine – August 6, 2014)

http://www.airspacemag.com/

Let’s learn how to extract space resources closer to home.

The UK Daily Mail recently published a piece extolling the benefits of asteroid mining (before lightly tripping over some mundane, yet critical, technical details). The article leads with the headline: Single asteroid worth £60 trillion if it was mined – as much as world earns in a year. Should we chide them for such blatant sensationalism? Then again, is it blatant, or are they merely following an established pattern?

Asteroid mining is a field with lots of hype but little sober consideration. To redeem the technique of in situ resource utilization (ISRU) from the realm of ridicule and science fiction and make it a routine aspect of space mission architectures, we must honestly discuss the difficulties of extracting useful product from raw asteroid debris.

As with every Solar System body of interest and potential use, I am firmly convinced we will eventually mine asteroids. In truth, if we do not take up these formidable technical challenges, there is little hope for any permanent and extensive human presence in space. As long as we confine ourselves to launching everything we need for spaceflight from the bottom of the deepest gravity well in the inner Solar System, we will remain mass- and power-limited and thus, capability-limited.

Essential, low-information density material – spaceflight’s “dumb mass” of propellant and consumables – should be obtained from sources in space, rather than long-hauled (at great cost) from Earth. Only complex, high-information density items not easily made in space should be brought up from Earth. Continue Reading →

Forty five years after man first walked on the moon, a new space race is beginning to take shape – by Peter Kavanagh, (National Post – July 22, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

It was our first truly global village moment, and it didn’t even take place on the planet.

Forty five years ago this past weekend, July 20th, 1969, at 20:18 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), half a billion people sat around radios or television screens, or stood, outside, eyes scanning the sky. I was one of them, moving back and forth between the TV in our living room and our front yard where I could stare straight into the sky and see the moon. I remember the moment — which I can (and do) relive on YouTube — and the incredible, quiet excitement when, while holding my breath and watching the slow, agonizingly descent, I heard the words, “Houston … Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

What we were all really waiting for, though, was the extreme rush that came six hours later when Neil Armstrong stepped down on to the surface of the moon and uttered that now famous phrase, “That’s one small step for man … one giant leap for mankind.” It was amazing, stunning, excruciatingly exciting. Every science-fiction story written had been made real, palpable and possible on that summer’s night. Everyone and anyone could dream about going to the stars, and no longer be dismissed as simply a dreamer. Having one’s head in the clouds lost its sting, briefly, as an insult.

And the world cheered … well, part of the world cheered. After all, despite the “We are all in it together” sentiment of Armstrong’s quote, landing on the moon was a key component of the space race, an adjunct of the Cold War. America’s accomplishment was, for the Soviets, a bitter defeat. Continue Reading →

Mining the moon: The 21st century gold rush – by Stephanie Orford (MetroNews.ca – March 17, 2014)

http://metronews.ca/

Five years ago, if you had brought up moon mining among geologists, “you would have been laughed out of the room,” said Gordon Osinski, founder and director of the Canadian Lunar Research Network, and an assistant professor of geology at the University of Western Ontario.

Times have changed. Mining on the moon and on asteroids, formerly the stuff of science fiction, is clearly in the sights of governments and, increasingly, private companies.

In February, NASA announced it was accepting applications from U.S. companies to build robots for lunar prospecting, a step toward creating an economy in space.

And there’s certainly a market for what’s up there. Many elements that are rare on Earth can be found aplenty on the moon. Satellite imaging has shown that the top 10 centimetres of regolith (moon soil) at the south pole of the moon appears to hold about 100 times the concentration of gold of the richest mines in the world, according to a recent paper coauthored by Dale Boucher, the CEO of Deltion Innovations, based in Sudbury, Ont. Continue Reading →

NASA is offering $35,000 in awards to asteroid hunters – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – March 10, 2014)

http://www.mining.com/

The US space agency, in partnership with asteroid-mining firm Planetary Resources, said Monday it will give away $35,000 in awards over the next six months to citizen scientists who can develop improved algorithms to find space rocks that could pose a threat to our planet — or at least be of interest to scientists and cosmic mineral prospectors.

The first contest in the series will kick off on March 17. Prior to the kick off, competitors can create an account on the contest series website and learn more about the rules and different phases of the competition.

Managed by the NASA Tournament Lab, the entire contest series runs through August and is the first contest series contributing to the agency’s Asteroid Grand Challenge.

“For the past three years, NASA has been learning and advancing the ability to leverage distributed algorithm and coding skills through the NASA Tournament Lab to solve tough problems,” said in a statement Jason Crusan, NASA Tournament Lab director. “We are now applying our experience with algorithm contests to helping protect the planet from asteroid threats through image analysis.” Continue Reading →

Mining the Moon: Plans Taking Off, but Rules Lacking – by Joshua Philipp (Epoch Times – January 29, 2014)

http://www.theepochtimes.com/

Just two years before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, a treaty was signed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. Signed even as the race to get to the moon was well underway, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty declared that no nation-state could ever own the moon.

The treaty, however, was written at a time when current threats were too real and visions of the future were too dim. Concepts like space tourism, orbital hotels, and companies mining the moon for minerals would have been written off as science fiction.

Fast-forward to today and you’ll find companies like Virgin Galactic ferrying wealthy tourists into space, a man skydiving from low orbit for a Red Bull advertisement, and companies like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries looking to mine the moon for its resources.

While the 1967 Space Treaty governs what countries can and cannot do on the moon, it leaves private companies unregulated. For countries like China, where many large companies are state-owned, the line separating the interests of government and business is unclear. Continue Reading →

US funds afoot in junior space – Roundup talk – by Kip Keen (Mineweb.com – January 30, 2014)

http://www.mineweb.com/

We check in on sentiment about the junior market at the AME BC Roundup conference in Vancouver BC.

VANCOUVER, BC (MINEWEB) – I’ve had a lot of where-is-this-junior-market-going conversations in the past three days here at the Roundup conference in Vancouver BC. As at the recent Cambridge International VRIC show there appears to be a small pickup in optimism about junior market.

It’s not euphoria. Far from it. There’s still lots of healthy scepticism.

I bumped into a consulting geologist, Andrew Abraham with Paradigm Shift 3D Geological Consulting, on the way into the conference this morning and he noted that at so many recent conferences there was a similar buzz. Only, afterwards, it invariably soured. He recalled following up once positive sounding leads only to get non-committals: sorry, we still don’t have any cash to spend.

There have been a spat of financings in recent weeks, however. And that has not escaped many people’s attention here. Many here also take that as a good sign. Continue Reading →

Sudbury firm wins key space contract – by Jim Moodie (Sudbury Star – January 30, 2014)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

It would be a stretch to say he’s over the moon, but Dale Boucher is certainly excited by the chance his company’s drilling equipment could get on board for a lunar mission.

It’s a possibility that edged nearer to a probability this week, as the Canadian Space Agency awarded a contract to Deltion Innovations of Sudbury to tailor its technology to moon-like conditions. “It’s not a flight contract,” said Boucher. “But what it does is get us one step closer to that.”

Deltion’s DESTIN drill, which takes core samples, was put through its paces in 2012 at a NASA experiment in Hawaii. The Mauna Kea volcano features terrain similar to the cratered ball that orbits earth, and the Sudbury-designed drill did its bit, so to speak.

“It was a practice run and our system passed with flying colours,” said Boucher, adding the unit worked in conjunction with a rover designed by Neptec Designs. Last month, Deltion formed a strategic partnership with this Kanata-based company. Continue Reading →

Sudbury space pioneers cheer on Rosetta probe – by Jim Moodie (Sudbury Star – January 24, 2014)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

It may not be a giant leap for mankind or even a small step for mining — not yet, anyway — but word that the Rosetta spacecraft is on track to reach a distant comet is certainly of interest to space-mining pioneers in Sudbury.

“It’s going to touch down on the surface and extract a sample with a lander-mounted drill,” said Dale Boucher, CEO of Deltion Innovations Ltd. “So, what this does is move the prospecting as we know it into a more common, everyday occurrence.”

Deltion has been developing mining systems that it hopes to employ on missions to extract water and minerals in space.

The Rosetta probe, which awoke from a three-year hibernation this week to send its first signal back to Earth, isn’t going to look for harvestable resources on its faraway ball of ice and rock, but that doesn’t mean useful information for commercial applications can’t come out of the experiment, said Boucher.

“In this particular case they’re looking at it from a scientific perspective — they want to understand what it is, so they’re going to analyze these samples,” he said. Continue Reading →

Sudbury firm eyes role in lunar mining mission – by Jim Moodie (Sudbury Star – December 17, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

INNOVATION: Deltion partners with NASA contractor

A city once described as a moonscape now boasts expertise to mine the real lunar surface. Sudbury’s Deltion Innovations Ltd., formerly affiliated with the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology, has been developing space mining systems for over a dozen years and is now a step closer to putting its high-tech drilling and excavating equipment into orbit.

Last week, the company announced a new partnership with Neptec Design Group Ltd. of Kanata to collaborate on projects involving space flight systems.

The two companies have worked together in the past, but now have what Deltion CEO Dale Boucher describes as a “strategic alliance.”

The Kanata enterprise has been a prime contractor for Canadian Space Agency and National Aeronautics and Space Administration projects, providing flight machine vision systems and supporting shuttle missions. “They built a laser system to inspect the shuttle before coming down,” notes Boucher. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: Planetary Resources Announces World’s First Crowdfunded Space Telescope Campaign

PROVIDING ACCESS TO AN ADVANCED SPACE TELESCOPE FOR STUDENTS, SCIENTISTS AND A NEW GENERATION OF CITIZEN EXPLORERS.

“BRINGING SPACE WITHIN REACH”

Bellevue, Washington – May 29, 2013 – Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company, has launched a campaign for the world’s first crowdfunded space telescope to provide unprecedented public access to space and place the most advanced exploration technology into the hands of students, scientists and a new generation of citizen explorers.

Planetary Resources’ technical team, who worked on every recent U.S. Mars lander and rover, will provide direct access to an ARKYD space telescope making space widely available for inspiration, exploration and research. “I’ve operated rovers and landers on Mars, and now I can share that incredible experience with everyone. People of any age and background will be able to point the telescope outward to investigate our Solar System, deep space, or join us in our study of near-Earth asteroids,” said Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources, Inc. Continue Reading →