back to article Billionaire astro mining venture long on hype and timescale

The much-hyped launch of Planetary Resources has been held in the august surroundings of the Museum of Flight in Seattle; so now we've got some details how feasible are the plans? According to the roadmap laid out the first phase of the project will kick off with the launch of the Arkyd Series 100 spacecraft, which is …

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  1. frank ly

    Is it really true?

    "Platinum .....one asteroid could generate more of the stuff than has ever been mined in Earth's history. This is true, ..."

    Maybe, if there was an asteroid out there, in easy reach, that had a very high concentration of platinum in it. If asteroids are remnants of the proto-planetary cloud that formed the earth (among others), why should they have a significantly greater concentration of platinum than the earth's crust?

    Even if they did have, how does the mass of an 'average' asteroid compare with the mass of all platinum bearing ores mined throughout earth's history? How do we find these 'lucky' asteroids?

    On a separate note: to return large ingots of purified metals down the earth's gravity well, you could use them as counterweights in a pulley based space-elevator arrangement, with buckets at regular intervals it coud form a cheap launch and return system.

    1. marioaieie
      Boffin

      Re: Is it really true?

      It depends on the asteroids. On the earth, the heavy elements sunk in the core, while in the crust there are only light elements (and stuff bring up by volcanoes). Some asteroids were formed from the protoplanetary nebula, so they will have the mean composition of all earth. But others were formed from collisions of small planets and therefore there are asteroids with the same composition of the mantel and the core (basically iron, nickel and other heavy elements)

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Is it really true?

      'If asteroids are remnants of the proto-planetary cloud that formed the earth (among others), why should they have a significantly greater concentration of platinum than the earth's crust?'

      Asteroids have much higher concentrations of platinum than the Earth's crust as can be shown from the abundance of platinum metals in meteorites and meteoritic dust. The Earth's platinum metals followed the majority of the planet's iron and nickel and sank towards the Core as the planet heated up during formation.

      But I'd like to see a cost comparison between getting platinum from an asteroid and extracting it from the tiny quantities dissolved in seawater.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Silly

    Asteroid mining is silly if you are planning on bringing the material to Earth. Even if you find a rock that's 10% platinum, 10% uranium, 10% thorium, 10% Helium 3, and the rest is "only" stuff like iron and titanium, the cost to get it, drag it to Earth's atmosphere, and de-orbit in in a controlled fashion greatly exceeds the sale price. And as noted in the article, while platinum is expensive now, bring in that much and the price plummets.

    The only way asteroid mining makes sense is if you are using it in situ, to make space based "stuff" cheaper than making it on Earth and launching it. But the demand for space based stuff is pretty small right now.

    The only way I could see this making sense in my projected lifespan would be to make solar sats beaming power down - but since the first thing you'd have to do would be to get all the BANANAs (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything) out in the middle of a desert and have an "accident" with the power beam, I don't see this happening.

    More's the pity.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Silly

      Not really.

      An example out of Sci-Fi, specifically Night's Down, Part two - The Neutronium Alchemist comes to mind. It describes in reasonable detail exactly what does it take to set up such a facility which is likely to be economical even for good old iron in the absence of a space elevator:

      1. Foam up the metal to be brought down. A very little gas of your choice which you can extract from a "wet asteroid" as well goes a very long way in vacuum.

      2. Splash 'em down on water in a controlled fashion. Shape the chunk of foam to be splashed down appropriately and give it some minimal control surfaces to direct it initially. This is the rather optimistic part so I would actually give the leading edge some extra thermal protection as well. If you have started mining asteroids you have most of the materials to create ceramics handy. In fact, in zero G you may be able to create much bigger "tiles" than on Earth.

      3. Build the final stage of the refinery on earth - tow the foam into a cut-n-smelter yard. Being foam its density is lower than water so it will float.

      By the way, Lewis missed that one the biggest reasons for Pt to be expensive now is that the Spanish sank most of the platinum they pillaged from the Inkas somewhere in the Atlantic so it does not drop the price of Silver.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Tim Parker

      Re: Silly

      "The only way I could see this making sense "

      This is predicated on the operation needing to make money - at least one source who has talked to members of the group seems to indicate that they're not really that fussed about that and may more interested in kick-starting something bigger and taking part in a Big Adventure.

      All the hype aside - good luck to them.

  3. VoodooForce
    Angel

    Optimistic

    If this makes a scenario possible as shown in the movie Outland I am all for it!

    I want to be a space miner mummy!

    1. Dave 62

      Re: Optimistic

      I.. I haven't seen this film?

      Well I always wanted to be a space mining cowboy, possibly even a space mining robot cowboy. With a guitar.

      Pity about the long time span, I was hoping they'd be done by Friday as I'm a bit stuck for things to do this weekend.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Optimistic

      Is that the one with Harvey Keitel and his cargo of square pigs? Or the one with Sean Connery and the spiders? My sci-fi total recall is failing me!

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Optimistic

        Sean Connery. It's basically High Noon in space.

  4. jake Silver badge

    This entire concept is such horseshit ...

    ... that I'm surprised I can't actually smell the stuff every time ElReg reports on it. Anyone why buys into it is the fool who is being separated from their money ... There's this thing called "gravity" and "Hohmann transfer orbit energy requirements" that say "not profitable any time this century ... and probably not the next, either".

    1. Dave 62
      Unhappy

      Re: This entire concept is such horseshit ...

      But...... spaceships?

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Dave 62 (was: Re: This entire concept is such horseshit ...)

        What about spaceships? Physics is real. Fiction is not.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: @Dave 62 (was: This entire concept is such horseshit ...)

          Kick the puppy Jake! Didn't you see his Sad Face? He already knows spaceships aren't real, that's why he's disheartened!

    2. VoodooForce
      FAIL

      Re: This entire concept is such horseshit ...

      Horseshit on your horseshit. What you are pointing out is an energy problem only. It's obviously not an impossible obstacle.

      I will listen to a group of people with a proven track record of innovation who hire a group of people with a proven track record in the industry first. I imagine they are aware of transfer orbit issues... what do you think? Besides it's not costing me any cash - they are putting up thier own dough.

    3. Tim Parker

      @jake

      "This entire concept is such horseshit ..."

      What concept are you on about - making money out of it or doing it ? Sounds like they're not particularly fussed about the former, and much of the latter is not out of reach technically (even today) - so what's your beef ?

      1. Tim Parker

        Re: @jake

        Down-voting a question ? Way to go, must have asked the right question I guess....

    4. Yag
      Trollface

      Re: This entire concept is such horseshit ...

      "What, sir? You would make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her decks? I pray you excuse me. I have no time to listen to such nonsense."

      - Napoleon Bonaparte to Robert Fulton, upon hearing of the latter's plans for a steam-powered engine.

      (quoted from http://laserstars.org/bio/skepticism.html - And I know it is a dubious quote...)

  5. Mikel
    Alien

    All about the water

    The rocks you need are already dangerously close to where they need to be. The correction is just tiny.

    As I said, the metals are a thing for down the road. It's all about the water. As for the money, well, these guys ain't hurting and ain't gonna be. The operation is already generating positive cash flow.

    Part of the reason for the fuel is to boost loads out of LEO, so that's a nice time to drop your platinum waste products.

    1. jake Silver badge

      @Mikel (was: Re: All about the water)

      No. You seem to be confused. It's all about hype.

      They are NOT generating positive cash-flow. They haven't turned a profit. Nor will they. They are separating fools from their money.

      I hesitate to call it fraud ... but it's fucking close.

      Your "tiny correction" is only "tiny" for galactic values. We're kinda stuck here in the Earth-Moon system when it comes to this kinda thing.

      Water isn't exactly as common ... or as usable ... in the inner solar system as you seem to think it is.

      Gotta get out of LEO, find your treasure, get back to LEO, and finally drop it ... which makes platinum the product, not the waste, no?

      1. Rocket888

        Re: @Mikel (was: All about the water)

        "They are NOT generating positive cash-flow."

        You're wrong - the company is already generating revenue that is covering their costs.

        1. jake Silver badge

          @Rocket888 (was: Re: @Mikel (was: All about the water))

          Uh ... no, They are separating fools from their money, but they are not generating positive cash flow. There is a big difference between "revenue" and "positive cash flow".

          1. localzuk

            Re: @Rocket888 (was: @Mikel (was: All about the water))

            Why are you obsessed with money? Look at it as a scientific and engineering endeavour. If they manage to come up with ways of producing satellites cheaply, or reducing the cost of getting out of the atmosphere, or systems for landing and launching from remote rocks without there being a massive chance of the ship just crashing, what's the problem?

            Sure, the idea is fanciful, but so was the idea of getting on a ship and sailing around the world to find new lands and bring things back. So was the idea of powered flight.

            Its only sticklers in the mud like yourself who are so angry with the world that try to hold this sort of thing back, obsessing over money and details which you as an individual see as important, whilst ignoring the bigger picture.

          2. BoldMan
            Trollface

            Re: @Rocket888 (was: @Mikel (was: All about the water))

            Jeese Jake, how about we forget about the whole thing and go back to plundering the world's resources until we have none left and then complain to God that he didn't give us infinite resources right at hand? How dare anyone have to try to DO something to get off this vulnerable rock ball floating in space and spread out to the stars?

            My god, nobody should EVER try to explore or do anything innovative because you'll always find some fault in it!

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Kharkov
    Thumb Up

    Don't look at all the gold!

    Remember that the actual words spoken by these guys talk about WATER as the first thing to get. Water gets you the fuel you need for LOTS of stuff going out of Earth-zone.

    Remember, they're talking about bringing metallic asteroids back to... lunar orbit, not Earth's.

    The first smelter/refinery to go up to orbit (whenever that is) may well have a lot of stuff to work on...

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
      Alien

      Re: Don't look at all the gold!

      That's one possible solution, build a smelter/refinery to go up to orbit and use some sort of space-tug boat to bring the smelter/refinery to the astroid to extract the ore.

      They can call the space-tug the Nostromo

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The future

    Wouldnt it be more prudent to have this stuff stock piled up in space and used for space based ventures

    I mean, the idea that in even the conceivable future we could build feck of great big space craft on earth and have them take off is laughable, it would never happen, gravity alone would make construction impossible as it collapses under its own weight let alone taking off

    Take all that in to space and suddenly you don't need to worry about its weight any more, only its mass and a propulsion system to move it. in terms of space travel a major issue is being cooked by our sun or passing radiation from outside the solar system, when construction isn't limited by weight it becomes a very real possibility to install shielding, the same can be said for a proper energy source such as nuclear reactor.

    Perhaps some of it could be used on earth, if anyone as seen the film Moon then theres a good idea on there that could be used. But in my mind creating prefab materials which could be used to build ships or sent off to automated construction sites on other planets would make much more sense. I mean imagine, you mine stuff, refine it in to materials or even prefabed blocks, blast it off to Mars where either a manned or automated construction could set it up basic services. It sounds far fetched but I don't think it is, whats holding us back is more likely to do with Money and lack of forward thinking.

    But as Stephen Hawking said (paraphrased) we're all fucked if we stay on this planet, we need to get off this rock and spread humanity around a bit to ensure our survival. In an astrological scale it would take but a grain of sand to wipe out our existence.

    1. Chris Miller
      Joke

      Correction

      ... on an astrological scale it would take but a bad alignment of the planets and a grim Tarot deal to wipe us out.

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: The future

      "I mean, the idea that in even the conceivable future we could build feck of great big space craft on earth and have them take off is laughable, it would never happen, gravity alone would make construction impossible as it collapses under its own weight let alone taking off"

      I dunno, the original Project Orion spacecraft design was pretty feck-off big, practical (if a little damaging to the local environment) and could even be launched from Earth. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion)#Sizes_of_Orion_vehicles

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: The future

        Alas, it was calculated that each launch would result in roughly 100 deaths from fall-out related cancer. Still, the BBC documentary 'To Mars by A bomb' is fascinating - search for it on Google, and use the 20 minutes + filter.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: The future

          Bearing in mind that ~ 1/3 of the human population dies form cancer eventually anyway, that number is actually pretty low...

    3. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The future

      Yup. The future is living in space..not on the surface of planets. Planets are dangerous things and living the good life on them often means putting them at risk. Building our own space habitats means we are in control. If we need a nuclear reactor we stick it on the outside and if it melts down we just push it away and forget about it.

      On Earth we are limited by resources and environmental concerns. In space we are limited only by our imaginations.

      Hey - that's a good slogan :)

    4. Tim Parker

      Re: The future

      "Wouldnt it be more prudent to have this stuff stock piled up in space and used for space based ventures"

      That's part of their plan

  9. xerocred

    if gold bars were stcked on the moon

    they still wouldn't be able to get them down economically (ignoring crashing gold prices)... (a comment by some lunar investor)

    though the moon fanasists claim there is loads of duterium on the moon - and that would make it economic. supposedly.

    personally i think its a shit idea. processing seawater, somwhow, is much more straightforward, and less inefficient.

    1. DJO Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: if gold bars were stcked on the moon

      Not duterium (sic) but Helium3 which cannot be found in the sea in any useful quantities and is the easiest fuel to fuse. The amount of He3 that could be easily extracted from strip mined regolith could power the Earth with safe fusion plants for millennia.

      1. Trollslayer Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: if gold bars were stcked on the moon

        This is dependant on continuing development of fusion but the He3 will still be there in a few generations, shame I won't be around to see it.

        1. Aldous
          Thumb Up

          Re: if gold bars were stcked on the moon

          problem is you have a catch-22 situation the branch of fusion research that relies on He3 is restricted by the shear lack of the stuff (its only really produced from decommissioned nuke warheads) and the lack of research means no point in grabbing the He3.

          mind you it is used in some medical gizmo's, all we need is the US department of defense to need some for some new doodad and we will have moon colony's in no time (staffed by blackwater)

      2. xerocred

        Re: if gold bars were stcked on the moon

        I stand correvted about the exact stuff supposedly on the moon, -which doesn't mean its in asteroids though, cos theyre not bathed insolar wind

        if only fusion was working, we could get bavk to complaining about the weather.

        typos cos I'm using a smart phone ..

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: if gold bars were stcked on the moon

          "I stand correvted about the exact stuff supposedly on the moon, -which doesn't mean its in asteroids though, cos theyre not bathed insolar wind"

          Umm, asteroids, which are floating around the solar system inside of the heliopause? I think you'll find that anything inside the heliopause* that isn't protected by its own magnetic bubble, like Earth IS bathed in solar wind.

          * Which is somewhere >200 AU from the sun, a lot further than any asteroids we'll be able to get hold of any time soon.

      3. Hop_David

        Re: if gold bars were stcked on the moon

        Other than our sun we have no fusion reactors. So He3 remains a fantasy commodity.

        The Planetary Resources folks correctly say water is the most valuable space commodity. Propellant high on the slopes of earth's gravity well breaks the exponent in Tsiolkovsky's rocket equation. And the rocket equation is what keeps space transportation expensive.

        And there seems to be abundant water in the cold traps at the lunar poles.

        http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/Mini-RF/multimedia/feature_ice_like_deposits.html

  10. andreas koch
    Pint

    The south sea bubble

    of 1720 all over again... IN SPAAACE!!!

  11. Mystic Megabyte
    FAIL

    Fantasy

    For some reason I am reminded of this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Diamond_as_Big_as_the_Ritz

  12. Chazmon

    Two thoughts on the subject of platinum

    1. Who cares if the price plummets? We get loads of (arguably) the worlds most useful catalyst. Perhaps this will kick start the hydrogen economy? (perhaps a little optimistic but hey we can dream)

    2. Lets say they only exstract a few kilos of the stuff, selling it as raw platinum wouldnt recoup their losses. Sell it in the form of jewelry, how much would people pay for a limited edition space platinum ring or necklace? You could probally flog off the raw rock as souveneers whats the going rate for asteroid these days?

  13. jai

    space elevators damnit

    Surely the best way to bring the goods back down to ground level is for these guys to finally get around to working out how to build a space elevator. It's the gift that keeps on giving. Cheap and easy way to move items out of the Earth's atmosphere and into orbit (space craft for mining or exploration or colonisation, huge sacks of garbage for shooting into the sun for disposal so we no longer need landfill sites) and at that same time, equally cheap and safe means of bringing in bits of asteroids in a controlled way that isn't going to create tidal waves or huge holes in the ground, or scary atmospheric effects like in ID4.

    In fact, you build two together, surely, so the one bringing asteroids down to earth is pulled by gravity, and in turn provides power to the other one to lift items up into orbit.

    1. BorkedAgain

      Re: space elevators damnit

      I'm still trying to source some really, really strong string. Will keep you posted.

      Meantime, ponder this: http://xkcd.com/697/

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: space elevators damnit

        So, all we need is some superstring. In theory.

    2. The First Dave
      Headmaster

      Re: space elevators damnit

      Nice bit of perpetual motion going on there - using gravity to lift something has never worked, and never will...

      1. Yag
        Paris Hilton

        Re: space elevators damnit

        The use of counterweight was incredibly common in primitive elevators and most modern elevator still have a counterweight...

        Indeed, in the case of most primitive and all modern elevators, the aim was not to lift stuff "for free", but merely reducing the power needed to lift something.

        However, if...

        - Your cabin is at the bottom, with X kg of materials to lift

        - Your counterweight "basket" is empty at the top of the "shaft" (let's assume it's the same weight as the empty cabin on the bottom)

        - You put more than X kg of counterweight material - for example processed mineral - in your counterweight basket on top...

        Then, unless the friction of your system is ludicrous, the gravity will do the work of raising the cabin for you.

        However, you will need to expand a bit of energy to slow down the movement...

        I really can't figure where is the trouble you're speaking of, and there's no relation with a perpetual movement... Perhaps I'm a dumb blonde after all...

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: space elevators damnit

          "You put more than X kg of counterweight material - for example processed mineral - in your counterweight basket on top..."

          Bear in mind that the "top" of this skyhook is in geosync orbit.

          1. Yag
            Happy

            Re: Bear in mind that the "top" of this skyhook is in geosync orbit.

            Wooops... okay...

            Actually... that's not okay!

            The *center of gravity* for the whole space elevator should be in geosync orbit - This means that you should have quite a hefty counterweight beyond Geosync to offset the 36.000km and so of Neutronium/Carbon-femtocubes cables...

            However, it is a legitimate claim, and my basic physic knowledge is unable to grasp the implications of such an odd case :)

      2. hplasm
        FAIL

        Re: using gravity to lift something has never worked, and never will...

        Damn.

        Time to get out of the hydro power business then...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Expense

    Why is this space stuff so expensive? Where does the money go? Does it pay for loads of people to build stuff, or does it provide very large salaries for a handful of people? Are the materials expensive? Who profits from the materials? ..... Who's making money out of this?

  15. thegrouch
    Alien

    Dave 126

    It was the late, great Dennis Hopper in Space Truckers with the square pigs, not Harvey Keitel.

  16. Chris Ryder
    Boffin

    Nothing new here

    This is nothing new. Mining lasers have been available since the 1980's for 800 credits from any system with a tech level of 10 or more, fuel scoops are available for about 525 credits (tech level > 5). Unfortunately the massive fluctuations in the prices for the mined goods coupled with the time it takes to perform the mining meant I always preferred to trade in alcohol and machinery.

    1. Scott 19
      Thumb Up

      Re: Nothing new here

      Links to an emulator if you gotit.

      Love that game.

      1. Pedigree-Pete
        Happy

        Re: Nothing new here

        Here you go Scott. I just tried it for the 1st time in years & it kinda works on Win7(like everything else!)

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        @Scott 19

        Oolite:

        http://www.oolite.org/

        Say goodbye to your social life for a while...

    2. Pedigree-Pete

      Re: Nothing new here

      Chris, Chris. You need(ed) to trade in slaves & drugs. Better turnover & more fights with the system Police!

  17. tony

    Facebook

    "will include a manipulator arm to allow pictures of itself to be taken"

    Will it also have a link to facebook to display it's self portraits?

    1. BorkedAgain
      Thumb Up

      Re: Facebook

      Presumably it'll be pressing itself coquettishly against one of its satellite friends and pouting?

      *goes for a lie down*

  18. Mark C 2
    Alien

    Protector

    Brennan was a Belter...

    Hope they first agree some protocols about leaving sh*t in orbit and leaving their junk floating around if it isn't already defined under UN and International Charter.

    1. BoldMan

      Re: Protector

      Just be sure you avoid the Yellowskins! Oh yes and don't mess with that shiny statue with the rusty little "button", you won't like what it does!

      1. BorkedAgain
        Stop

        Re: Protector

        This sounds like the kind of in-joke I normally get, but I don't!

        What'choo talking about? What did I miss?

        1. Avalanche

          Re: Protector

          They are talking about "Protector" the book by Larry Niven and related (short) stories in the 'Known Space'-series.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Saw something about Hydrogen Trees the other day (tiny tiny things that use sunlight to create hydrogen) that would likely remove a lot of the hassel from creating hydrogen (far more effective than solar panels can do it due to the increased surface area).

    Also you could get oxygen too, which is an adequate propellant in the depths of space.

  20. Rustident Spaceniak
    Gimp

    Go for it!

    Never mind if the investors are about to lose some money - they've got plenty where that came from! The thing is, any attempt at doing something seriously useful in space will produce solutions to some of the nagging problems that have hampered us, plus some more we haven't even thought about yet.

    As it is, I find it more than optimistic even today to announce the launch of a totally new spacecraft, even if it's just a small telescope, by 2014. Maybe if they've already got the design worked out, and have placed orders for their long-lead materials, it might be just doable. Whatever the outcome, it'll be more than entertaining to watch - and I'm sure if they actually pull off the water thing, it'll be a case of build it and they will come.

  21. Skizz
    Thumb Up

    Why are they doing this?

    Obvious - tax avoidance! All the money they plow into this can easily be reclaimed as R&D expense and thus get the tax benefits for it (current 225% in UK, i.e. for eavy £100 R&D you can reduce your taxable income by £225). The fact it's a cool project, would create/sustain hi-tech jobs and might actually work in some way is just a big bonus.

  22. Scott 19
    Thumb Down

    Confused

    Why not start with something easy like the moon, at least it's been going the same way for a few billion years.

    Let's be honest these guys just need there egos stroking,m again. (anyone for a deep sea trench?).

  23. FunkyEric
    Alien

    Well it's about time

    That cash-rich corporations started spending their money on space-ventures rather than leaving it to bloated over-spending government agencies. OK they might kill a few people from time to time, but a bit of competition is bound to spur things along and speed them up. The tech exists, we just need the people to make it happen. And we've conveniently got a few mega-rich people who seem to want to spend their money on thsi at the moment!

  24. Garry Perez

    Moon Zero Two

    nuff said

  25. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Alien

    Welcome to the slippery slope!

    Sure, James Cameron and friends start by mining uninhabited near-earth asteroids, but once there is money to be made we know where it will end--ruthless colonization and exploitation of idyllic, peaceful space natives!!

    If I was a Naa'vi, I'd be sharpening up my stone spears and getting in good with their earth mother/giant biological Cisco router that is running their their planet!! Come to think of it, wasn't "CamerCo" the name of the mining company in Avatar?

  26. Ian Moffatt 1
    Coat

    icm1957@gmail.com

    Don't suppose there's any chance of calling this lot The Jupiter Mining Corporation?

    I'll get me bazookoid

    Ian

    1. Jonathon Green

      Re: icm1957@gmail.com

      I think you'll find that Mr Cameron has dibs on Weyland-Yutani Corporation... :-)

  27. damien 4
    Alien

    Re: Nothing new here

    Forget emulators, Oolite is amazing http://www.oolite.org/

  28. Johan Bastiaansen
    Happy

    It could work you know...

    If you find enough morons, and there's never a shortage, to invest in this, you could make a nice profit.

  29. Kharkov
    Go

    Telescopes in space? Cool!

    A small (nine-inch) telescope launched as a secondary payload on an Atlas V (cheaper to do Falcon but whatever) which will, from LEO, look for asteroids in the region between Earth & the sun.

    Well, first steps and all but if you want to look for rocks in that zone, surely it'd be better to fire off a telescope (or two) and send them above (and below, if you're doing two) the plane of the system so they can look without having their search impeded by the glare of the sun.

  30. Pygidiums

    Humm....

    TBH This sounds more like a false-flag op. I'm old enough to remember the Glomar Explorer, getting everyone excited about the fortune the Hughes corporation was going to make from manganese nodules from the deep-sea bed - the ship actually built to recover a sunk Soviet sub. Second cover story was that not all of the sub was recovered due to a failure of the grapple...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSF_Explorer (sorry for the wiki quote, too lazy etc..)

    Now if the USofA wanted to develop the tech to drop big lumps of rock down the gravity well as part of their 'wars on stuff'; or if there actually was going to be an 'extinction level event' in 2032 or whenever, and we could do with nudging the little bugger out of the way without inconveniencing Joe Public with intimations of mortality what better cover would you need?

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