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Planetary Resources - The Market Problem and Radical Solution

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Imagine that you’re on a road trip from Seattle to New York City. Now, what if there were no gas stations along the way, and you had to bring ALL the fuel that you’d ever need with you. You’d have no room left for anything! Well in outer space, the problem is even worse than this. After all, judging by the space race of the 60s and 70s, you might have thought that we’d have colonized Mars by now. But we haven’t. We’re trapped at the bottom of Earth’s gravity well, which is so deep that escaping the first 300 kilometers takes more energy than the next 300 million. It takes 50 kilos of propellant to deliver just one kilo to LEO, but 4 more would get you the next 35,000 kilometers, and 2 more the last 300 million—to Mars, to the Asteroids, to anywhere in the inner Solar System. But those 4 kilos to GEO each need 50 kilos to get into LEO first. And those 2 to everywhere else each need 4, which each need 50. This exponential nature of the rocket equation has us stuck hugging our planet. Planetary Resources has had a Copernican-shift in thinking: travel beyond Earth’s gravity well is nearly effortless, so if fuel is sourced from space, for space, we can avoid this exponential problem altogether. Fortunately, rockets run most efficiently on hydrogen and oxygen, which is just electrolyzed water, and exists in near-infinite quantities…on asteroids. These future oil fields of space are also ultra-high-grade precious metal mines that lie unperturbed as the low-hanging fruit of our Solar System—energetically closer than the Moon and just waiting to be harvested. Mining asteroids could provide a fuel source 1,000 times more efficient than the brute force, bring-everything-with-you approach used by the Apollo Moon program. So how big is the space market when economics improve by 1,000 fold? No one knows for sure. But neither did the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, nor IBM, or Bill Gates at the dawn of their new markets.

Video Details

Duration: 2 minutes and 26 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Views: 111
Posted by: fmycroft on Dec 15, 2013

Why prospecting and staking claim on asteroids drives economic growth into the Solar System.

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