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Great New Space Mining Book! June 3, 2015

Posted by Mark Flavin in General, Space Policy, Space Ventures.
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New Space Mining Book

New Space Mining Book

Now I wish I would have paid more attention in chemistry & geology class. This new book by Dr. John Lewis is amazing. Most “popular” non-fiction is written by English majors who research a topic and never do it justice. Asteroid Mining 101 is so refreshing because it is written by someone who knows what he is talking about. Dr. Lewis has long been involved in concepts for tapping the riches of space.  With an academic background in space science and cosmochemistry (I had no idea that field even existed) he is eminently qualified to author a book on asteroid mining.

What I like about this book is that he clearly identifies the candidate asteroids by orbit, makeup and frequency they pass close to earth. This is a real science based book that is thorough and rigorous in the analysis of the subject. It covers the fascinating use of meteorites that have landed in various places and time on earth in categorizing the potential enormous wealth available for any particular type of asteroid since meteors are just chips off of asteroids.

Asteroid Mining 101 is true to its title with generous coverage of the actual mining process, what we can expect for mineral extraction, how it could be done and how it would be delivered for use back on earth. Overall this is a fascinating, if not technical, look at the practical aspects on mining asteroids in Near Earth Orbit (NEA). It is of interest that Dr. Lewis is Chief Scientist at Deep Space Industries, a real life space mining company, so he is not just a dreamer professor with nothing practical to bring to the table. I hope you enjoy a glimpse of a possible future for space that has tremendous implications back here on earth.

I’m Back + Planetary Resources May 8, 2015

Posted by Mark Flavin in General, Space Ventures, Technology.
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ARKYD Spacecraft

ARKYD 3 Spacecraft Photo Credit: Planetary Resources

 

I took a long hiatus from my blog but I am back. Being distracted by running a business has kept me from what I love, space, but no longer! I will again begin to add content to share with other space enthusiasts.

Speaking of space Planetary Resources is very close to releasing there first prospecting telescope called Arkyd 3 from the ISS in July of this year. The instrument was lofted into orbit aboard the most resent SpaceX Dragon launch to the ISS. The mission of the Arkyd 3 is a technology demonstrator to proof the spacecraft and systems necessary to orbit other craft with the ultimate mission of identifying near earth objects (NEO) suitable for capture and mining.

Planetary Resources has a very ambitious goal of ultimately mining asteroids. They are taking a very measured approach to this by first identifying a list of candidate asteroids within reasonable range of earth. Once the database of objects is complete they will go to the next phase of mission planning along with their partners to begin actual mining. Their partners are heavyweights like Larry Page (Google), Eric Schmidt. (Google), Sir Richard Branson (Virgin everything), Ross Perot Jr. and a bunch of others that have the resources to move the venture from proof of concept to reality.

Keep you eye on this company. They have the potential to not just talk space but do space in a big way. It is what we have needed for a long, long time; entrepreneurs with vision that can literally reach for the stars.

Private Space Station Possibilities May 30, 2012

Posted by Mark Flavin in Space Ventures, Technology.
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Image Credit: Bigelo Aerospace
BA-330 Space Module

It is refreshing to see all the activity in private launch services to allow more access to space beyond what NASA ever could or would. A recent announcement of a collaborative effort between SpaceX and Bigelo Aerospace has put a new twist to the possibilities of private space ventures. SpaceX has a huge lead over any of their competitors in developing a human rated launch system able to loft seven people into orbit & safely return them to earth. Now they are teaming up with Bigelo Aerospace, a company with no competitors in providing on orbit human habitats for any purpose.

It’s a sure bet that the price for such services; reaching low earth orbit, will be way beyond what I can afford but the trend is what is so exciting. For the first time in history someone other than a government is talking about a space station! How cool is that. Bigelows concept of a soft, inflatable structure for space habitation is unique. The BA 330 pictured is 330 cu. me. of usable space that is pressurized and has all the attitude control and module avionics to make it an autonomous space station. Even better is that the modules can be joined to make a much lager facility for research, space tourism or anything a customer can imagine.

Bigelow already has had  two test modules in orbit for several years gathering important data on long term exposure to the harsh environment of space. I can’t wait to see what these two innovative companies will do in concert to give us mortals the ability to become astronauts too.

100 Year Starship Project May 14, 2012

Posted by Mark Flavin in Space Policy, Space Ventures.
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Image Credit: 100yss.org

Image Credit: 100yss.org

It is rare to find an organization dedicated to anything beyond the lifetime of the average person but the 100 Year Starship™ Initiative  (100YSS) is just such a group. Their purpose is simple; plan for a human crewed space ship capable of traveling through interstellar space to a destination outside our solar system. While their purpose can be simply stated there is nothing simple about the goal.

Traveling beyond our solar system is a daunting challenge considering the distances involved, and the technology currently available. It is interesting that their website points out that H.G. Wells book “First Men on the Moon” was published just sixty eight years before we set foot on our closest satellite; an unthinkable goal in 1901. The group is trying to galvanize industry, government and the rest of us to get on board & support the effort.

To continue their efforts 100YSS plans a series of symposiums to gather a group and discuss the issues involved in interstellar space. They plan to hold the next discussion in Houston Texas September 13-16. They achieved a milestone with a grant from DARPA of $500 million. In addition to this hey have recently recruited Mae Jemison, a former Space Shuttle astronaut to head the organization.

It is very impressive that such a bold initiative is gathering momentum in this current era of slash and burn budget cuts. They hope to lay the groundwork for the next human space adventure by establishing a firm footing inclusive the vast number of necessary disciplines to ultimately make the project happen. It is so refreshing to hear of a people who dare to dream way beyond putting around in low earth orbit. I appreciate their enthusiasm so let’s set coordinates to Alpha Centari and, what do what else; engage!

Asteroid mining 101 April 30, 2012

Posted by Mark Flavin in General, Space Ventures, The Solar System.
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The Book: Mining the Sky
by John S. Lewis

The recent announcement by Planetary Resources about forming a venture to mine asteroids is no new concept. In 1996 John Lewis published the book Mining the Sky.

Dr. Lewis is a professor of Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson. In his book he details how humanity might one day tap the huge resources in our solar system. Each chapter is introduced by a vignette of a some future scenario where we are already actively engaged in space mining and colonization.

This book is a must read for anyone who wants to know where Planetary Resources is headed since Professor Lewis is a key technical advisory. Based on the depth of his understanding of the physics & logistics of space mining as well as the potential of our solar system it seems they are in good hands.

Mining the Sky is a fascinating look at a possible future for any culture with the will to go into space with a real mission beyond finding extraterrestrial microbes.

Asteroid mining has arrived! April 24, 2012

Posted by Mark Flavin in Space Ventures.
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Image credit: Planetary Resources

This is the most exciting space news in decades! Start-up firm Planetary Resources announce today that is was establishing a business to mine asteroids in space. They are backed by a powerful collection of thinkers and billionaires to pull it off including Larry Page (Google founder), Dr. Eric Schmidt,  Ross Perot Jr. , Dr.Charles Simonyi and James Cameron are among those participating in the venture.

Their first effort will be to orbit a telescope capable of  detecting candidate  asteroids which are close to Earth  for mining.  Once identified they ” …plan to mine Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) for raw materials, ranging from water to precious metals.”  What a milestone this is in placing the future of space exploration and utilization into the hands of practical people, not NASA scientists bent on finding microbial life under some rock.

A great deal of work is yet to be done but this is clearly some of the best news imaginable regarding the opening up space beyond government contrived waste & folly.