Asteroid mining; big enough to attract billionaires to invest.
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Maybe that's the reason why we don't hear about other civilizations: every one of them has started asteroid mining until some less intelligent CEO figures that working with them at the orbit and dropping results at ground costs too much and gives order to "just drop it whole onto ground. We do mining there". BOOOOM!!
That's what happens when bean counters take over from the engineer founders.
It's been estimated that the precious metal and rare earth content of a single 1-mi. diameter nickle-iron asteroid in Earth orbit would be about $7 quadrillion, or $1 million per capita for the planet. Most of it already separated and relatively easy to extract.
And there are lots of them.
P.S. That's about equivalent to all that's been extracted and mined from the crust in all human history.
Of course that much precious and rare earth metals would cause them not being rare or precious anymore...
Gold, platinum etc have uses even when they lose their mainly artificial monetary values though. Platinum is great element for many chemical uses, and gold is great conductor and has plenty of other uses and so on. Obviously nickel-iron asteroid is mostly nickel and iron, so those would be plentiful (just one big nickel-iron asteroid contains more of those than humankind would need for several thousand years with current consumption levels).
There are lots of others, like iridium, osmium, etc., that come with the package, too.
I heard the want to mine water. Because its heavy and so difficult to get into space.
Getting close to the Apr. 30 ISS "double-demo" launch. Several days of orbital maneuvers, then docking, unloading, reloading, return.
That's been delayed a week. tweet by Elon.
I blame NASA. The pointy-pencil pushers prevail again!
27-min. Apr. 26 Wired interview, wide-ranging, beginning with Dragon simulations of docking.
"Except where Boeing/Lockheed are protected by egregious contracts, SpaceX wins the competition hands-down."
"We're getting better faster; our pace of innovation is increasing."
And here's another: Bigelow and SpaceX to launch and then accommodate space tourists -- starting in Asia!
Watching the Dragon rendezvous with ISS on NASA TV. http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html
Trying to get a camera focused on it at the moment.
Just watched Dragon fly under ISS, as they crossed over S.A., birthplace of E.M. Switch-on of strobe light was successful, but it's too bright sunlight to see it yet. Another half hour or less it should be dark enough.
Nasa TV schedule related to Dragon mission (all times EST):
May 25, Friday
2 a.m. - SpaceX/Dragon ISS Grapple and Berthing Coverage - JSC (All Channels)
1 p.m. - SpaceX/Dragon Mission Status Briefing (Time subject to change) - JSC (All Channels)
May 26, Saturday
5:30 a.m. - SpaceX/Dragon Hatch Opening Coverage - JSC (All Channels)
11:25 a.m. - ISS Expedition 31 Post-SpaceX/Dragon Hatch Opening Crew News Conference - JSC (All Channels)
May 31, Thursday
3:30 a.m. – Coverage of the SpaceX/Dragon Unberthing from the ISS – JSC (All Channels)
10:15 a.m. – Coverage of the SpaceX/Dragon Deorbit Burn and Pacific Ocean Splashdown – JSC (All Channels)
Dragon heading for holding pattern a few hundred meters off ISS; will go thru 2 approach-withdraw "teases" before heading in for actual docking.
Doing the 'teasers'; visually about a vehicle length off target at about 250m distance, so (?) approach - hold operation has been altered slightly to hold at 235 instead of coming to 220 meters then withdrawing to 250.
Delay for a while while CAPCOM examines thermal imagery (from Dragon aiming camera).
Extra holds at 200meters and 150 meters, for IR/LIDAR synching. Docking to be somewhat delayed. Near an orbital sunset, may fiddle with timing and lighting so visibility is good.
Moving in to 30 meters, still tracking thermal imagery (for discrepancies?).
Long hold was in place while they figgered out the LIDAR problem. Turned out to be a reflector on the Japanese module which was confusing the system. They narrowed the beam focus to avoid it. Now setting up for the 10 meter approach.
Current time 6:15 PDT.
Capture is complete.
Capture confirmed! 6:56 am PDT.
Berthing planned for ~5 pm EDT.
Berthing complete ~17.05 EEST, ~10.05 EDT. Full docking with hatch open will be done later, considering that they are now several hours behind the original schedule I wont make any bets when this will happen.
They are detaching the arm as I wrote this.
Jeez, they sure rushed it! And I was off making breakfast. >:(
From the radio conversation it sounds like they are in a hurry to make the full docking too (talking about Dragon pressurization already).
Just simply amazing!
If you could do that, then you could probably make a performance sedan that doesn't need gasoline . .
Oh wait, he did that too!