Economics of Space Infrastructure• Why space? What justifies the infrastructure costs?• Proposal is for mining on moon – Why not going straight to near earth asteroids? • Using astronauts, robots, what?• Argument from Resource Shortage – But see Mining Ocean Floor – Can bring resources back at about $2600 / kg. • Many rare earths in $10,000 - $40,000 / kg range• Cheaper launch FRETOS – Tether for assembly of packages at L1 for lunar insertion
FRETOS• Reusable Earth to Orbit Stage FRETOS combined with Tether Upper Stage TUS• Subsonic aircraft release w/ rocket boost at 12.6 km• To 2100 km tether for insertion into orbit of 13 ton payload – Basically a rotovator which we talked about back in May• Up to 1000 launches per year – (5 launchers and 4 tethers) – Note this gives a total not much greater than one SBSP system so most things must be mined/built in space
Mining Ocean Floor• Enough deposits of many key resources to last for many centuries at current rate – Volcanic vents deposit sulfur solubles basically • Includes gold, zinc, several rare earths• Nautilus is 1st company exploiting this – Expect $26/kg production cost for up to $10,000/kg resource – Solawara project – Russian based owership
Solawara Project• US $70/ton production cost for resources valued at over $1000/ton on market• $400 million in equipment cost raised• Environmental permits granted• Full scale mining of 1.2 million tons / yr• 30 month build out schedule• Equipment either existing or straightforward adaptation
Nemesis is real (sort of..)• Hypothetical red or brown dwarf beyond Oort cloud• Analysis of century worth of comet data suggests a Jupiter sized object at edge of solar system• Sends about 20% of all comets visible from earth• Called Tyche – An object like Tyche could be seen directly by WISE, NASA’s infrared space telescope.
Nuclear Launch Gun• 150 kiloton nuclear Jules Verne gun• Kilometers deeps shaft, salt is easiest• Build giant shell containing payload• Set of guide rails around perimeter• Pump in reaction mass and small nuclear bomb.• Can fire 1000 ton payloads at less that $200/kg• Putting the entire thing underwater and deep in pit ensures very little radiation to atmosphere – Best version puts no more than 1/300000 of debris in air as one 300 kiloton weapon test
SpaceX success• Dec 8 successful launch – Dragon capsule to orbit and successful splashdown• SpaceX cleared for commercial launches and re-entry• Mission to ISS is being planned.• Volunteer astronauts lining up