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Tech tycoons in asteroid mining venture | Science | guardian.co.uk

A group of hi-tech tycoons including Google's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt have teamed up with explorer and film-maker James Cameron in a venture to mine nearby asteroids, hoping to turn science fiction into real profits.

The megamillion dollar plan is to use commercially built robotic ships to squeeze rocket fuel and valuable minerals such as platinum and gold out of the rocks that routinely whizz by Earth, with the aim of having a space-based fuel station up and running by 2020.

[snip]

Asteroids are made mostly of rock and metal, and range from a few metres wide to nearly 10 miles long. The new venture targets the free-flying asteroids, seeking to extract from them the rare earth metals that are used in batteries, electronics and medical devices, Diamandis said.

Water can be broken down in space to liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen for rocket fuel. However, water is very expensive to get off the ground, so the plan is to take it from an asteroid to a spot in space where it can be converted into fuel. From there, it can easily and cheaply be shipped to Earth orbit to refuel commercial satellites or spaceships from Nasa and other countries.

Build a gas station, and presumably the clients will come... but what will they look like?

Regular or premium, sir? er madam? er...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 09:55:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
These guys should stop reading science fiction, get out of their armchairs, and work for a few weeks at a real world mine...

by asdf on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 04:42:05 PM EST
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I expect that they are aiming at something more like mountain top removal mining, except out beyond where there's a biosphere for people to whinge about it.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Apr 24th, 2012 at 08:54:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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