Science Ping

How the meteorite mining industry saved Earth, at the same time created a generation of billion billionaires

This is an article, a letter from journalist Chris Taylor working at Mashable, addressed to the audience of the … next century. According to UN data, the average age of a child in 27 countries around the world has now risen to 81, which means the chances of a baby born in 2019 still alive to see 2,100 are high.

So what will be the last part of the life of babies born around this time? We are just guessing with science, science fiction, and technologies based on the human imagination. But ultimately, it’s today’s dreams, aspirations, and worries that will shape the future, near or far.

In the 22nd century,

Suddenly, a new economic dimension exploded, stemming from the dreams of geeks and the potential inherent in the technology that we already have.

New networks are emerging, accompanied by new market behavior from which new opportunities are emerging. Large cash flow has sublimated many startups and many startups have been sunk forever. A sense of redundancy and fear covers the world – too much to watch out for, something that can save us, something that has the potential to destroy everything. Some believe that this new economic aspect will help us escape our carbon phobia. And at the height of the revolution, a handful of individuals seemed able to predict the future, richer and richer than any business tycoon in human history.

These are lines that sum up the internet economy of the early 21st century (and many argue that this is also the story of any breakthrough in the market since the Industrial Revolution that gave birth to railroads). And I confidently predict that it will also be the story of the space economy that explodes at the start of the 22nd century.

The main difference is this: those at the forefront of the Internet age will become billionaires; and the leaders of the meteorite mining industry will become trillionaires.

“Meteorite mining” is a phrase that still annoys many people: it will take a few decades to reach that future, where a semi-automatic mining line will exploit enormous resources. directly into the solar system. In the air, the “mines” of platinum, gold, diamonds, rare earths with innumerable reserves are waiting for us to return.

We can only predict the amount of minerals suspended in the solar system. One of the tools that helps us visualize these aerial mineral deposits is Asterank, a website that tracks about 6,000 meteors discovered by NASA, rating them based on the amount of minerals they have.

Up to over 500 celestial bodies cost over $ 100 million. This is just the number of profitable asteroids, that is, the money earned by going there, by hoeing the mine that will compensate the cost is estimated at 1.5 million USD, when calculating at both rocket fuel costs and project operating costs.

Concept thiết bị khai khoáng thiên thạch.

Meteorite mining equipment concept.

Are these mines for people to mine? The truth is, we’ve mined meteorites from meteorites: Rare earth metals found in electronic devices are already on the earth’s crust, going where they can pass through meteors. The rare earth metals available on Earth have all been “absorbed” by the iron core of the planet. So why not go to the source and exploit it?

Besides the mining project, you can also take water from celestial bodies and turn it into rocket fuel – the crucial ingredient in making this space project happen. The space around the Earth and the Moon will provide many exciting opportunities.

However, even for those who regularly pay attention to the Universe, it is difficult to gauge the size of the future space economy. It was no different from the days of 1945, when engineer Vannevar Bush proposed a huge system of libraries that anyone in the world could access through a personal computer, but not their contemporaries. believe in the internet we see today.

No tech pioneer understands the effect it produces.

Robot ATHELE của NASA với tiềm năng di chuyển trên mọi địa hìnhNASA’s ATHELE robot with the potential to move on any terrain, suitable for extraterrestrial missions.

It is difficult to realize that future now. The reason isn’t limited to politics, but on Earth only two companies have issued stocks with a business model focused on mining meteorites, these are startups that seem like doing tons of business and launching satellites. , but then be acquired by companies which, in short, have no interest in making long-term investments.

Planetary Resources was established in 2012 and its beginnings attracted a lot of attention. Their funding comes from names like Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, Ross Perot and even supported by the Luxembourg government. They signed a satellite launch contract with Virgin Galactic. In October 2019, they were acquired by a blockchain software company.

In January 2019, another company, Deep Space Industries, also contributed in part by Luxembourg, was sold to Bradford Space, owned by the American Industrial Merging Group. Maybe these new owners will continue to cook for meteor mining intent, not buy the company to refine gasoline and remove tailings? The two companies are silent when they talk about mining projects.

“The asteroid mining bubble has burst,” The Space Review eloquently stated. They are one of the few editorial staff to still take an interest in this aspect.

No wonder either. After all, anyone who plans to start Google in 1945 will face bankruptcy. Just as the Internet is making some big leaps in the computer industry to survive, the space industry also needs an infrastructure system.

Right now, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, one of the richest men on the planet and one of the most established pioneers, are both trying to develop cheap and recyclable rockets, which the companies are doing. mining. The future jelly will need.

Concept thiết bị lấy thiên thạch về để khai thác khoáng sản.Concept equipment for taking meteors to mine minerals.

Meanwhile, scientists are studying in silence to create the foundations that will later support the space economy. The Japanese probe Hayabusa 2 has been spinning the Ryugu meteorite for a year and a half, trying to figure out all it can. (According to the Asterank review page, the Ryugu meteorite is worth $ 30 billion and ranks # 1 in the list of meteors worth investing in.) Japanese experts dropped a robot probe and small bomb in Ryugu aimed at create an artificial meteorite crater.

On paper, this mission will help us learn how the solar system is to form. Another unofficial mission is to find out if there are as much precious metals on a meteorite surface as many assume. If so, it will be a spoiled “gold mine”. Otherwise, we can still mine it by other means, such as mining with light (basically sealing the meteorite and digging with light, that sounds crazy, but NASA has proven to prove that possibility). Only it takes time.

We have the first milestone in turning a meteor into a mine. And there will be more work to do when Hayabusa 2 brings the specimen back to Earth. If that bucket of sand contains gold dust, blocks of platinum or compressed carbon – also known as diamonds – then Luxembourg won’t be the only investor looking up.

The possibility of obtaining a meteoric mission, inhabited or not, is already near. So what could be the next step? He tells an inspiring story in this regard, with words that make people believe and can imagine themselves mining in the Universe. How would you describe the nature of the Internet to people living in 1945? How do you convince them that Vannevar Bush’s idea is a gold mine? You will have to describe this new economy and the benefits it brings in fiction.

Le projet Hayabusa 2 du Japon vise à échantillonner la météorite Ryugu.

Au même moment où Hayabusa lançait des bombes sur l’astéroïde Ryugu, le romancier Daniel Suarez prend également le même corps céleste que le contexte principal de son livre. Suarez est un conseiller technique, un programmeur qui est soudainement devenu l’auteur le plus vendu d’histoires votées par le New York Times. Jusqu’à présent, ses romans sont tous des histoires sensationnelles liées à la technologie: son premier Daemon sur le contexte de l’IA fonctionnant hors de contrôle lui a rapporté plus d’un million de dollars.

Une différence peut être vue dans le contexte puisque le dernier roman de Suarez décrit soigneusement l’industrie minière des météorites. Delta-V, un livre publié en avril dernier, parle d’un milliardaire nommé Nathan Joyce recrutant un groupe d’aventuriers inconnus pour la première mission astéroïde; Le groupe de huit comprend un spécialiste de la plongée souterraine et un alpiniste, tous deux de renommée mondiale.

Les fans du milliardaire Elon Musk penseront immédiatement que c’est l’histoire où le personnage principal est Joyce, mais en fait, il disparaît bientôt de l’histoire. Les nouveaux explorateurs de météores sont les héros de Delta-V. Ils ont non seulement des salaires stupéfiants – 6 millions de dollars pour quatre ans de travail, mais ils sont également les principaux décideurs dans la construction de l’avenir. Suarez a créé ces personnages sur la base de l’exemple des héros de la nouvelle ère.

Selon la déclaration de Joyce, l’objectif de cette mission est de sauver la Terre de ses problèmes difficiles. Premièrement, le milliardaire (fantaisie) a invité un économiste (également de fiction) lauréat du prix Nobel à montrer la vérité, à savoir que l’économie mondiale est endettée. L’économie devra continuer de croître ou tout s’effondrera, alors orientons notre développement vers l’Univers, où l’économie n’affecte pas la biosphère de la Terre.

Deuxièmement, il s’agit d’un remède contre le changement climatique. Suarez voit l’extraction de météorites comme le seul moyen de construire des satellites solaires. Si vous ne le saviez pas, c’est une façon de collecter l’énergie solaire en continu qui est, en théorie, plus efficace que tout système de batterie solaire qui bénéficie du soleil de midi 24h / 24 et 7j / 7.

L’énergie collectée sera transportée vers la Terre sous forme de micro-ondes, ce que les chercheurs pensent être suffisamment sûr pour les êtres vivants comme les humains et les animaux. Un réseau de satellites solaires peut fournir une quantité constante de 2 000 gigawatts, soit plus de 1 000 fois la quantité d’énergie disponible actuellement pour la plus grande ferme solaire du monde.

Trang trại năng lượng Mặt Trời vẫn chưa phải nguồn cung cấp năng lượng dồi dào nhất.

Solar parks are still not the most abundant source of energy.

“We are looking at a 20-year plan to completely replace humanity’s energy infrastructure,” Suarez said, citing data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Solar satellite technology “has been around since the 1970s. What we lack are the millions of tons of building materials that fly into orbit. The two meteorite minerals project can help us achieve this.

The early 21st century society that shaped thought around Earth cannot realize the potential of this project, but no one is considering bringing precious metals with construction materials from meteorites to Earth. . What does the earth do. It is more efficient to create a transportation system in space. We can extract celestial bodies both near and far, where we can easily reach thousands of meteors, more easily than going from here to the Moon. It is also one of the concepts which is not clearly understood by humans, it is not known how easy it is to transport goods in zero gravity.

The autonomous robot can push a block of rock 10 meters in diameter without too much force. The mining crews just need to bring them back and sell them to ore refining and synthesis companies operating in orbit. For example, pharmaceutical companies can benefit greatly from moving chains to space, where the synthesis of certain chemicals is much more efficient when done in microgravity.

Các nhà nghiên cứu thử nghiệm trộn xi măng trên Trạm Vũ trụ Quốc tế ISS.

The researchers tested the cement mixture on the International Space Station ISS.

We expect most of the mining line to be stand-alone, or remotely controlled and controlled by AI. Still, Suarez insisted that thousands, if not millions, of workers would find their lives in the space industry, as systems automatically take their jobs out of old jobs. left on Earth.

“The first Universe projects will be unstable and experimental. But people live well in this situation, ”Suarez said. “We can improvise and immediately fix the problem. Robots should have their own tasks, and we’ll spend time researching and testing to design them properly.

It’s yet another way for Earth startups to get rich in a new economy: by designing and building robots, similar to selling hoes and shovels in the gold rush of the past. Thousands of people living in the Universe will also need housing with their own artificial gravity system. Once again, it must be confirmed that this is not a “heavenly” project: it will use a centrifugal force gravity simulation tool that has been proposed by scientists since the 19th century. We have developed a working model called the O’Neill Cylindrical Pipe, but we have not yet funded the construction of such a system.

But apparently trillionaires will be the ones who build them.

Ống hình trụ O'Neill
The O’Neill cylindrical tube, the concept of a space station for people in space was proposed in 1976 by physicist Gerard K. O’Neill.

Ống hình trụ O'Neill sẽ bao gồm hai ống hình trụ quay ngược chiều nhanhThe O’Neill cylindrical tube will be composed of two fast counter-rotating cylindrical tubes to eliminate gyroscopic effects. The rotation will create artificial gravity through centrifugal force.

In short, Suarez paints the future of an orbiting economy, and everyone in society benefits. For those individuals who are concerned that asteroids could wipe out humanity – although it should be clear that the impact of this event is extremely low – there is a way to quickly send it out of orbit. The National Space Association came up with the idea of ​​capturing the Aphosis meteorite, a celestial body 340 meters in diameter, as it flew only 31,000 kilometers from Earth by 2029. We will keep it in orbit and transform it in 150 guards. Solar powered chimpanzees as an example of how mankind is able to deal with asteroids.

It is also possible that the meteorite mining industry will wipe out the diamond industry altogether. “The amount of diamonds obtained will be greater than the total number of diamonds that can be mined on Earth,” Suarez said. We have also learned that carbon crystals exist in large numbers in the Universe, much larger than previously estimated. Astronomers have even discovered a planet made entirely of diamonds; there may be many more, but it is surprisingly difficult for telescopes to recognize these objects.

Nowhere to find a diamond planet in the solar system, but we still see the existence of a diamond “encrusted” meteorite. Spend enough time mining, we will have diamonds as shoe soles for everyone.

Họa sĩ mô tả hành tinh kim cương trên Vũ trụ.

For investors, the title of “first thousand billionaires” is very attractive. Neil deGrasse Tyson believes that the first trillionaires will be among the pioneers of meteorite mining; Suarez is not sure, but he said that “heavenly mining will create more billionaires than any other industry in history.”

With “regular people” with a little cash, they will have a whole new stock market to invest in.

Together with the workers, they can see for themselves the market in (almost) endless treasures, including the transparent business as well as other ways of making money. It’s too hard to stop miners from making money when their boss is millions of miles away. Then must include the ability of workers to gather enough knowledge to become investors in the future.

“After working on meteorite mining projects several times, perhaps with 6-month or 1-year contracts, it’s likely that a few workers will start their own businesses,” Suarez said. “Either meet the needs of the growing number of workers and households, then advertise the services on Earth, or start mining startups on their own.”

Nothing felt that its potential benefits outweighed the Internet economy. In the previous writing on meteor mining, I see that the vast majority of readers don’t care much, even mentioning a huge fortune that awaits us to explore.

The truth is here, we have found a plausible business model: there is no ecosystem on the verge of destruction, not a group of people left off the cold coil. Space will be a place where wealthy lice keepers can make money, provided they take the trouble to clean up the cosmic waste they throw away.

When making money in space, the people in the field don’t have to pay too much attention to the market. Sometimes we can build a better society with both a health care system and a free education system for all.

One last thing is clear, we need to invest economic resources in this area. If we make our home on Mars, we could awaken local bacteria that have never been known to science. Interstellar colonization was extremely difficult. Mining in the space around here, in celestial bodies near Earth is wise.

Hope life here is going well and everyone dreams of new dreams, illusions that we who are trapped in the gravity well of the past cannot imagine.

With a shining diamond of hope.

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