HMS Conqueror wrote:
2. How do you return the material to earth? The current cost of earth-LEO dV is in the range of the weight of whatever you are moving's price in silver to its price in gold. The alternative to decelerating it all the way with rockets is atmospheric braking, but thermal ablation then destroys most of what you're trying to mine. You also have the problem of where to land it.
You know when we figured out how to bring down a large hunk of metal from orbit relatively undamaged? April 12, 1961, with Wostok 1.
As for landing spot, try Siberia or any desert in, say, Nevada or Colorado.
3. Given that we're looking at something only worthwhile for an asteroid mainly made of platinum or something, how much is it actually going to yield if you return it to earth? Gold may be expensive right now, but if you find a way to produce vast amounts of it then the price is likely to crash, as the Spanish discovered in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Added value. Sure, raw gold price might drop, but with larger supply, new applications would apply. Zero-G manufactured processors from space Iridium?
Just 20 years ago, the very idea that anyone would have in his pocket supercomputer (by then's standards) capable of communicating around the globe with speeds surpassing internal
serial buses of best machines of 1992 would be laughable, and that was just with materials we can make on Earth.
HMS Conqueror wrote:
I don't understand what this has to do with reusable launch vehicles, but maybe I missed something. Reusable vehicles use atmospheric breaking to return to earth, so what do they want this fuel for?
For one, vehicle that can use its own engines again to brake instead of dropping like a brick doesn't need huge ablative armor. Which means less mass to carry to orbit (cheaper!) and stops bad things from happening, like Challenger and Columbia might attest.
If not, then it will be a cool, if unsuccessful, attempt by billionaires to make our lives ever so slightly more awesome.
This application of money is better than 95% of the stuff billionaires spend money on, IMHO.
ghetto edit: sorry, that was a geometry fail. -_-
Out of curiosity, what's ghetto edit?