Citizens of the Imperium

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flykiller July 1st, 2019 12:08 AM

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Actually - it can be done. Solar panels can provide the energy.
ok, it can't be done in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

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All we need to do is invest the money to make it possible.
money isn't the issue. the issue is cost. for example there's quite a bit of gold in our local oceans, but it costs more to precipitate it out of salt water than the gold is worth. space ops will be even less efficient.

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If western governments won't the Chinese will...
(smile) sure. they build ghost cities, why not build space-ghost mining operations. they could call it "the golden lucky money south sea people's sky mine" or something.

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initial bases are already planned by several nations.
plans are a dime a dozen. almost literally. operations are costly. for example the mars rovers cost (iirc) $40 million, and they were just little wagon-sized buggies that didn't even return or send anything back. an operation to get sufficient equipment to an asteroid, break it up any useful quantity of material, and then bring the material back in a controlled manner, will be exponentially more costly. can't see it being profitable. it would be much more profitable for investors to put up billboards all around the country saying "private investor wants to buy your gold, call 1-800-something".

aramis July 1st, 2019 12:31 AM

Some facts: Current gold price: around $4400 per kg, or $4.4M per ton.
A heat shield and parachutes can land some 20+ tons from orbit for launch cost plus about $15K ... that leaves $28M to get the gold and get it to the skeletal shield and chutes, given a $65M launch. At present, that looks unlikely... a $10M high-delta-V refillable can make it workable.

Trip 1 is upfront cost. 2-4 recovery probes, ion-drive. No science instruments, only minimum nav and grapple.
Trip 2 is refills for trip 1's birds, and maybe a couple more, and an empty return.
Trip 3 reuses the return, and refules the birds.
Repeat.
By about trip 7, you're profiting if you haven't collapsed the market.

flykiller July 1st, 2019 12:43 AM

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if you haven't collapsed the market
and that's a whole 'nuther issue - the economics. dumping $600 million worth of gold on the market (and you'd have to, to pay for your operations) means it's no longer worth $600 million, it's worth a lot less, meaning you have to get more and dump more, meaning it's worth even less. and keep in mind that existing costs are based on single missions, not sustained operations that require maintenance and replacement.

can't do it.

Barrel July 1st, 2019 01:26 AM

No need to dump it all at once--amortize it. Borrow money to replace the cash you spent getting the space gold, with an agreement to pay it off over 30 to 50 years. Companies and governments issue bonds of that duration now. The terms of the bond could even specify repayment in bullion.

aramis July 1st, 2019 03:51 AM

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Originally Posted by Barrel (Post 603578)
No need to dump it all at once--amortize it. Borrow money to replace the cash you spent getting the space gold, with an agreement to pay it off over 30 to 50 years. Companies and governments issue bonds of that duration now. The terms of the bond could even specify repayment in bullion.

I suspect Bezos or Branson could float about 10 flights on spec, provided they can keep things going on other projects. Balmer could, too. (Gates has sunk his wealth elsewhere.)

Heck, Besos and Branson working together could create a gold cartel to rival DeBeers Diamond Cartel.

Straybow July 4th, 2019 06:28 AM

Psyche is believed to be a failed planetary core. Unlike other asteroids, it is consolidated and compacted material rather than the loose clump of gravel that is more typical. That means extraction will be nearly as tough as on Earth, except for the microgravity.

Psyche is nearly 3 AU out, so solar panels will get only 1/9th as much power as Earth satellite panels get. It would take a huge solar array on Earth to run mining and smelting ops. We are decades away from the launch capacity we'd need to get such panels that far out.

mike wightman July 4th, 2019 02:12 PM

That's why we need moon bases for a space industrial revolution...

aramis July 4th, 2019 02:48 PM

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Originally Posted by Straybow (Post 603679)
Psyche is believed to be a failed planetary core. Unlike other asteroids, it is consolidated and compacted material rather than the loose clump of gravel that is more typical. That means extraction will be nearly as tough as on Earth, except for the microgravity.

Psyche is nearly 3 AU out, so solar panels will get only 1/9th as much power as Earth satellite panels get. It would take a huge solar array on Earth to run mining and smelting ops. We are decades away from the launch capacity we'd need to get such panels that far out.

The launch capacity exists already. It's the mining and relocation that's not.
And the mining can be made easier by instead relocating the asteroid to earth orbit.

flykiller July 4th, 2019 11:50 PM

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And the mining can be made easier by instead relocating the asteroid to earth orbit.
... uh ... yeah, the MINING could be made easier by just bringing the WHOLE THING here first ....

Timerover51 July 5th, 2019 02:15 AM

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Originally Posted by aramis (Post 603693)
The launch capacity exists already. It's the mining and relocation that's not.
And the mining can be made easier by instead relocating the asteroid to earth orbit.

Having, in theory, that much gold sitting overhead might also tank the market, or at the very least, reduce the price by quite a bit. After all, they do have to recover their costs in moving the asteroid and then retaining the mining capacity.


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