Asteroid Mining

Does it violate the law?

No, but Tanja Masson-Zwaan has been tweeting that it’s now time to start setting up the “regime” under the Moon Treaty to redistribute the wealth:

Possibly parties to Moon agrmt 79 must start talks about regime governing exploitation, as it seems ‘about to become feasible’ 2/2 #spacelaw

Personally, I think it means that it’s now time to have the Senate actively repudiate it by vote, to indicate that we will have no part of that nonsense.

91 thoughts on “Asteroid Mining”

  1. Yes, unfortunately by announcing their intentions so far ahead it will allow plenty of time for mischief like this. With luck Planetary Resources will use its political connections and deep pockets to hire lobbyists to quietly modify the Commercial Space Act for missions of this nature and there by eliminate even raising the issue of the Moon Treaty.

  2. The exploration and use of outer space … shall be the province of all mankind.

    Why do these weasels write such ambiguous statements? Because the truth is repugnant to them that individuals can own things without government control. The concept of ‘common heritage’ is created in the OST. The language is intentionally ambiguous so they can claim, a person (all mankind) can explore and use but really mean, they can’t.

    They create a false foundation, then build on it. It is satanic.

    Any non witless person should agree with Rand’s assertion. No, it does not violate the law to mine an asteroid and further they can claim, possess and own an asteroid.

    But that doesn’t stop idiots from making contrary law.

    We live in the age of unreason.

  3. Found this.

    Masson-Zwaan: I think the Outer Space Treaty should stay as it is. In my view it is a brilliant document.

    …there is a treaty signed by sovereign States which prohibits appropriation by the state, and hence by its subjects, and that there is nothing they can do to argue around that.

    We aren’t subjects in this country, lady!

    1. Ken, they have banished the problem of scarcity with a piece of paper. Why can’t you respect that? 🙂

  4. Ken,

    Actually as I tell folks the “Common Heritage” of mankind is to exploit any and all resources to the maximize to maximize the human population. Its something we have been doing for tens of thousands of years, witness all the mass extinctions when modern humans arrive on the scene. Turning Asteroids, Saturn Rings and any stray comets into tablet computers is continuing that Common Heritage.

      1. MfK,

        What is your problem? That is the proper way to interpret the “Common Heritage” doctrine, that space resources are available to all, first come, first served. Why do you what to control access to them with land grants and corporate cronyism?

        Oh and BTW, “Common Heritage” is not in the OST. The relevant section is Article I.

        [[[The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind.]]]

        “Common Heritage” is in Article 11 of the Moon Treaty, inspired by its development in the LOS Conventions and later incorporation into Article 11, Section 2 of the Law of the Sea Treaty.

        So actually you guys are tilting at windmills as Province of All Mankind has a different legal meaning which is basically that space is open to All Mankind.

        1. Technically ‘common heritage’ predates the OST but it is the first legal document to embrace it’s principles. …first specifically enunciated in international law in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.

          In other words, they pulled it out of their ass’ertion to be a principle in direct conflict with capitalism. By stating this BIG LIE they hope to deny the principle that leads to freedom.

          I happen to have a very high regard for the man from La Mancha but this isn’t a windmill tilt. The fact is people, as you are doing, use words not to elucidate but to confuse. The clear principle is that which is unclaim may be claimed. The best defense wins. The best defense is to have a large community that agrees. Socialist don’t agree and must be fought at every turn.

          1. Ken,

            Yes, the great authority Wikipedia 🙂

            If its the first document its in why isn’t it stated in it? All the OST states is that all nations are free to access space as long as the steer clear of interference with other nation’s activities. What could be more free than that?

            No where does it state you have to share any wealth and the U.S. established that by retaining close ownership of the Apoll samples. And you don’t see any nation demanding their share of the Stardust samples do you? And if they did all they would get is a polite no from the State Department. Yes, you are tilting at windmills and seeing things in the OST that are just not there…

          2. I would think he’s refering to the common heritage doctrine that “There can be no private or public appropriation; no one legally owns common heritage spaces.”

            Appropriate: (v) 1. To set apart for a specific use 2. To take possession of or make use of exclusively for oneself.

            Under this doctrine, the only way to mine an asteroid is to get all 6 billion people together in a giant bucket brigade.

          3. See the Masson-Zwaan quote above. George is right Thomas, but I’m just trying to clarify your position. You talk about control without ownership which seems to me a really twisted kind of thinking. You’re saying you can mine it and sell it and never own it??? Masson-Zwaan is saying you can’t using the same document you’re using. Obviously there is a need for clarification.

            I’m a simple guy. I think ownership means ownership. You’re telling me that you can collect the luxury tax when you land on free parking. It confuses me.

            Words do not trump reality.

          4. Let me try to clarify in a different way (ref. to modified monopoly rules may be a bit too obtuse.)

            There are the laws of physics, laws of nature, and human laws in that order of precedence.

            Claims and defense of claims is in the laws of nature such as a tiger defending its territory. Humans write laws and the interpretation of those laws becomes a game, but at no time do they actually supersede the laws of physics or nature.

            Juvenile thinking doesn’t understand that. This is why the great thinkers of the past have tried to explain it to them. Great thinkers like many of our founders.

            To legitimately sell something, you first must have owned it. Saying you only controlled it is a twisting of the meaning of control. It’s a lie to oneself.

            When you sell something you don’t own, you are acting as an agent for the owner. I suppose this means you would argue that you are just acting as the agent of mankind? Without any particular right to do so?

          5. Just thought of two other points…

            The first is you are saying you can control a slave without owning a slave. I think that makes the point crystal clear.

            The second is that taking ‘control’ of mined material just means you are claiming it as your own. So why argue against the claim of the mine the material is coming from?

          6. Good points, Ken.

            And if you steal a cell phone you’ve taken control of it, but does the fact that you now control it mean you can legally sell it?

            Hrm… Forget about that one, because in most urban areas the answer these days seems to be “yes”.

            Perhaps it would be clearer to say that control is physical (it is a situation), whereas the deed or title proves the legal right to control (that the control was arrived at justly).

            The closer Thomas moves his “document of control” to the meaning, permanance, registration, and use of a deed, the more it becomes “deed” with a different spelling. He’ll have to keep moving in that direction to fix obvious flaws in his original concept, closing loopholes for fraud and scams, exploitation, unjust appropriation, conflicting uses, conflicting claims, etc, until he will have recreated a deed.

            Of course if it’s done now, before there are a bunch of nebulous claims up there, it will be simpler. East Germany and the old Soviet Bloc had to go through the hassle of figuring out who owns what property after decades of Soviet rule. It can’t be a very pleasant process.

          7. George,

            But that is NOT part of the OST despite what Wikipedia claims. The concept of “Common Heritage” comes from a speech Arvid Pardo made before the UN in November 1967 in regards to the seafloor. The OST was already finished then (its dated January, 1967). The “Providence of Mankind” statement actually dates to a 1962 UN resolution and is based on the “Open Skies” concept and the spirit of the IGY.

            After his speech Arvid Pardo organized the Group of 77, mostly third world countries to ram through the “Common Heritage” principle for the Law of Sea Treaty and The Moon Treaty. It was not accepted well by the major developed nations which was why few signed the Moon Treaty and most didn’t sign the LOS until Article 11 was modified in 1992.

            Whoever wrote that article for Wikipedia has no idea of the history it. Or is pushing some environmentalist agenda.

          8. I’d give you that the phrase is not part of the OST. But you have to admit as well that common heritage is not taken to mean what you’ve described…

            …the “Common Heritage” of mankind is to exploit any and all resources to the maximize to maximize the human population

            which is a perfectly reasonable definition, just not the one being used on this topic.

  5. “If space resources belong to everyone, then no one is going to develop them anyway” – right on, Professor Dula. That basic fact is the key to understanding why Communist countries inevitably become wastelands.

      1. Only if its a finite resource like grazing land. There are more then enough asteroids to go around 🙂

          1. David,

            640k would probably still be enough if Microsoft didn’t have software that were such memory hogs 🙂

    1. BrendanOB12

      In Communist countries the state owns everything. In space the entrepreneurs who add value control it and if they don’t like the laws one country has they just replace it with another one, just as ocean shipping firms do. That is the key difference and a major one.

        1. Ken,

          Actually the wild old west wasn’t all that wild. You’ve seen too many TV shows. Research shows far more folks died from gun accidents then from gunfights. And these were folks who were raised with guns. And yes, the Moon is wilder in the sense that no government has sovereignty so there won’t be any cavalry or marshals riding to your rescue to enforce your land deed.

          1. It wasn’t tv shows. It was mainly conversations with Mr. McKean who was 88 when I was 10. Do the math and we have an eyewitness account from over a century ago. We got him from a nursing home. My folks wanted a grandma, but they didn’t have any available at the time. He also knew a bit about Japan.

            Interesting thing about those ‘accidents’ they were usually close range from a shotgun and in the back.

            Why wouldn’t there be a sheriff chosen by the local community? Communities take care of their own.

  6. Just a note, but this statement which is key.

    [[[“I am pleased to say that the American people and the corporations they form are presently free to conduct mining operations in outer space for commercial purposes, as this activity has not been made either illegal or regulated by the federal government or the several states,” Dula said.]]]

    Unlike the legal philosophers Art Dula has actually been advancing space law in this direction. It was Art Dula using his connections in Russia that arranged for the Russian Rover and lunar samples to be sold at auction to private parties and establish by legal precedent that private individuals may own physical objects (the rover) on Celestial Bodies and own pieces of the Moon. Art Dula was also responsible for arranging the first commercial space launch in the U.S. (Matagorda Island, Texas) in 1982 triggering the creation of the FAA AST. That is why I will take his statement over those legal theorists any day.

    1. Not this crap. I was commenting on your earlier crap. 😉 Now, about this crap…

      Why do you continue to believe you are captain Asimov? What you are promoting is genocide of the human race. Don’t you get it? Control is an illusion. Civilization is in many ways an attempt to hide from the truth of force. Recognition of ownership is how civilization keeps its fingers in the dike.

      If you had my brother (a one man crime spree) it might enlighten you.

      1. Ken,

        You are getting as bad as Ed Wright. What Art Dula is saying is that it legal to mine asteroids. What is your problem with that?

        1. I just like saying crap. Naaw, that’s not it. The problem is you continue to deny the right of real property ownership and concentrate solely on mining as the only commercial interest allowed as if that’s the only possible interest anybody could legitimately have. You continue to miss the idea that wealth comes from trade. It isn’t just something you dig out of the ground. The wealth of the universe isn’t rocks… it’s people. Without people those rocks represent zero wealth.

          1. Ken,

            As I point out in the thread on Alan Wassers rebuttal to Jim Dunstan. The key is control since there are no land titles. And control actually provides more rights than a title would. You really need to start thinking the “Martian Way” if you are ever going to make you settlement work on Mars. Or the Moon.

          2. control actually provides more rights than a title would

            Why do you stubbornly keep asserting this? It. Is. Not. True. As many here have repeatedly pointed out to you. Are you incapable of acknowledging any of their arguments?

          3. Thomas, you have a lot of faith in this illusion of control. You really should spend some time with someone out to destroy your life that you have no control over. It really is an enlightening experience.

            Both control and ownership can be taken away. The difference is that ownership has the support of other owners. Ownership allows property to be used as collateral. You have made absolutely no refutation of the poverty issue that comes from lack of legal title. That’s because you have none and history is absolutely not on your side.

            Thomas, you just have to stop imagining yourself king. It’s not gonna happen.

          4. Ken,

            I see them confusing control with ownership. As I pointed out, you may own an acre of land in Arizona, but you don’t really have much control it.

            In space since there is no land ownership, not by anyone, you get to actually control the land your facility is on. But like many folks you have such a religious belief in the power of ownership you don’t recognize the power of control.

            You rather cling to a piece of paper as “power” even though you must constantly pay the powers that be or have that piece of paper taken form you. Me, I much rather have my acre settlement on the Moon where I would pay no taxes and won’t need to ask anyone’s permission to do what I want with it. Which is why I really don’t understand why so called Libertarians want to bring government control, taxes, environmental regulation, land permits and all the assorted baggage of Real Property law to the Moon and beyond. Out dated Earth based notions of real property are not needed in space and will only slow up space development, not accelerate it.

          5. The moment somebody contests your ‘control’ you will find that you do not control much of anything. Don’t leave robots in charge. That’s just asking for it.

            Forget the damned paper. It’s the strength of community I’m talking about.

            You may not want to ask permission, but if you don’t own it, eventually someone will come along and take away that permission you didn’t ask for. You’re telling me a different piece of paper will prevent that. Not very consistent of you.

            The truth is, it will take time to sort this out, so have at it. Set up your kingdom and start digging your wealth. It won’t last. Anything you do profitably will bring along somebody bigger to take it away from you. Because you don’t own it.

          6. Thomas, I think you’re very confused about what a deed or title actually means. They began as an agreement between community members to recognize and respect each other’s control over objects and sections of land, with the understanding that the community will enforce the agreements. Changes since then have mostly centered on better paper and more advanced inks.

            What you seem to be advocating is control without the assent of and enforcement by the community of property owners. The deed system is how the members of a community collectively protect their individual interests from powerful individuals and organizations that would pick off the weak, one by one, inventing a high-sounding excuse to take first this farm and then the neighboring farm and then that castle, building a vast estate or empire by dispossessing people who are less able to assert their power.

            It protects people from having to justify their ownership of their own property (or their control over the farm they built) to powerful and clever men with a single-minded intent to appropriate such properties for their own use, through force, harrassment, legal chicanery, high-sounding public sophistry, instigating rumors and innuendo, and a hundred other schemes that have been used throughout history.

            Without the deed and the community sanctioned protection it provides, your control over property is contingent on the whims of those around you and the leadership of the tribe, settlement, village, etc. For example, homeless people lay claim to the possession of certain nice spots, shopping carts, shacks, and what not, agreeing among themselves about who controls what. That control ends as soon as someone on the city council decides their presence is an eyesore or inconvenience, and then they’re ripped out by the roots, their favored spots are swept clean from the Earth, their possessions are sent to the land fill, and they have to start over again somewhere else.

            This happens constantly to entire communities in the third world, where city planners frequently bulldoze the slums to help beautify the area or “protect public health.” The deed is how poor people learned to say “No. It’s my spot.”

          7. George,

            I think you need to read up one how deeds originated. Basically it was a Monarch giving a noble control of a specific piece of land in exchange for providing services to the Monarch. The noble was provided with a paper copy so when a new king came into power, or a the noble heir, they understood what the basics if the exchange was. And that is still the basis of the modern land deed. If you take your deed down to a title firm and ask them to track it to its origin you will see it was either a land grant from a Monarch or a Patent issued by the U.S. government.

          8. A deed is a conveyance of title. No more or less. Title is ownership.

            The part you keep missing is that nobody, sovereign or otherwise, owns unclaimed territory. Which is to say, a deed can only happen after a claim. A claim, all by itself, is title.

            So did anyone own any land before their were any sovereign?

            Neither title or deed are pieces of paper. It’s just that pieces of paper make it easier to record.

          9. Thomas, deeds weren’t recorded in England until the 1500’s. Prior to that they were transfered in a private ceremony that had to take place on the physical piece of land being exchanged. The government wasn’t notified.

            The grants from the King of England were forced upon him by landowners. Then, as I recall, a year or so later they ran him off and he died in a swamp.

            What you’re thinking of is title to estates, with a title title like Duke of Cornwall. As I mentioned elsewhere in this long, convoluted thread, some of the US colonies were established and settled decades before they received a charter from the British king, and some of these were not considered British posessions. The claims to land in these colonies predate British and US control.

            The system is simple and robust.

            Suppose you get stranded on an island with a bunch of other passengers from some disaster. Over time you realize no rescue is going to be forthcoming so you all decide to start farming and make a life on the island. Disputes arise over who is working which piece of land (it’s vastly easier to plant your crops on a piece that someone else has just cleared, with the arguments like “I thought you did that for me to be nice” and “WTF were you clearing MY land for, you bastard!” Within a week everyone gets together and rips a bunch of pages out of the back of a operations manual and they draw up and describe everyone’s property boundaries, placing markers like stacked rocks at the corners (Kentuckians usually used stacked rocks, which we still find in the woods all the time). Then everyone lives happily ever after.

            The procedure used in many states was that you walked into the woods, picked out the area you wanted to farm, marked the boundaries, and got to work. You usually had one year before you had to register your claim, yet from the moment you marked it and started working the land, the land was your legal property.

          10. Ken,

            [[[So did anyone own any land before their were any sovereign?]]]

            Given that land ownership originated from tribal claims and was generally assigned by either the tribal chief or by tribal tradition the short answer is no.

            And titles mean nothing unless someone guarantees them, either the sovereign or the court systems. Which is something the banks are finding out since they ignore state laws on filing mortgages with County Clerks in favor of a new electronic system. That is what the robo-signing scandal is all about.

          11. That was a rhetorical Thomas and the short answer is yes. That you think the answer is no is very telling.

            I provide definitions for title, deed and chain of title. Do you disagree with my definitions?

            titles mean nothing unless someone guarantees them

            You are correct. That’s what chain of title is all about. That chain starts with the first claim. That claim can be made by anyone. Emperor of the world, Chief Wears-no-pants or some guy lost. Like anything else, the rich and powerful are more likely to claim and defend with better results. That fact is not part of the definition which is where you go off course.

        1. For this: It was Art Dula using his connections in Russia that arranged for the Russian Rover and lunar samples to be sold at auction to private parties and establish by legal precedent that private individuals may own physical objects (the rover) on Celestial Bodies and own pieces of the Moon.

          1. Rand,

            The 1993 auction was arranged by the Space Commerce Corporation which Art Dula was the CEO of. Here is the info on the companion Auction in NYC where they sold a space capsule.


            In terms of the Space Services launch in 1982, Art Dula was the attorney for the firm and his testimony is on record on the hearings on the 1984 Commercial Space Launch Act. USC Law Library should have it on microflim and in it he details all the steps he went through to get approval for the launch and why a single point of licensing was needed. Somewhere I have a hard copy I printed out for the University of Virginia Library for my Dissertation.

  7. Thomas, please quit that crap. I know how you like to play games and change the meaning of words. But common heritage introduced as law in the OST had a specific purpose and agenda. It wasn’t a description of what mankind has done. It was a spreading of crap to form a foundation for the socialist utopia. The utopia that others have pointed out has been tried many times before and has always resulted in poverty and death.

    1. Ken,

      Common Heritage didn’t even exist as a doctrine until a year after the OST was created. So stop claiming it was introduced in the OST. It was not.

  8. The idea that someone can work hard to achieve something only to have others come in and demand a share reminds me of this line from the 7th Lincoln-Douglas Debate:

    It is the eternal struggle between these two principles-right and wrong-throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, “You work and toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.” No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.

  9. Personally, I think it means that it’s now time to have the Senate actively repudiate it by vote, to indicate that we will have no part of that nonsense.

    That would be the Democrat-controlled Senate? Good luck:-(.

  10. In the rush to spread our wings we should all keep in mind that this is not a moon but the Moon. It deserves some respect.

    Have you ever looked out at freshly fallen snow and appreciated the beauty of a trackless landscape? Then the it gets tracks in it, it gets dirt and sand on it, and as it melts into slushy muddy mess it looks like crap. Eventually the snow will melt and the tracks and mud will disappear but on the Moon tracks don’t disappear. Let’s not make the Moon look like crap for the people that will live on it or the people who will live down here.

    That doesn’t mean don’t go there and build and mine but it does mean that we shouldnt be dumbasses about it, that we should recognize the importance and signifigance the Moon has had for humanity since before we were humans.

    1. Way to poo-poo my wedding proposal business idea… I’d only use like 300K square miles of lunar surface to write “I Love You _____, Marry Me!” (or translated equivalent) surrounded by a heart. I’m willing to compromise, it just has to be legible from Earth with a pair of decent binocs.

    2. “Have you ever looked out at freshly fallen snow and appreciated the beauty of a trackless landscape? Then the it gets tracks in it, it gets dirt and sand on it, and as it melts into slushy muddy mess it looks like crap. Eventually the snow will melt and the tracks and mud will disappear but on the Moon tracks don’t disappear. Let’s not make the Moon look like crap for the people that will live on it or the people who will live down here.”

      Obviously, lunar regolith isn’t snow. And don’t see how human tracks in regolith is unattractive. And I think real snow in the Moon might look nice.
      And I think lunar city would be as attractive as cities on Earth.
      The other other aspect is that although particularly useful lunar land as in the polar regions could considered to be somewhat limited, the land area on the Moon is huge, many times land area of the US. So we could have millions of people living on the Moon with larger part of population deliberating looking pristine areas to put footprint in and still have vast area [area bigger than all our parks] after such deliberate “spoiling” going on for decades, that still have no footprints in them.

      Say hands across the moon. Million people so 2 million km wide, walking at 4 km per hour or 35,040 km per year.
      Moon is 3475 diameter and 10,911 km in circumference. So constant 4 km per hour will give 3/12 passes per year. Or 70,080 sq km per year trample upon. Moon has about 37 million square kilometer- or would take these 1 million people 540 years to trample entire moon.
      My point being even people if wanted to do this, it would take a while.
      And I would say if we get to point of having 1 million people on the Moon, we probably with a few centuries of going to other star systems. But if you confine the area to our system, there is Mars with much more land area than the Moon and Mercury [about same area as Mars].
      So seems that once start operation on the Moon, land which never human within 10 kilometer of it, will exponentially increase in terms ability some to go there and look at it.
      If no one can get to the Moon [current state] then for all practical consideration one less “pristine” areas.
      List of areas: Mercury, Venus, Moon, Mars, Vesta, Ceres [and other asteroids/dwarfish planets], major moons of Jupiter: Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto. Moons of other gas giants. Pluto and it’s moon and other dwarf trans-Neptunian bodies: Eris, Makemake, and Haumea. And probably discover another dozen or so of these dwarf planets in the future.

      And finally if some point centuries in the future when the Moon somehow lack significant areas without human footprints and you want to make pristine lunar landscape, then drop a big rock on a part of the Moon.
      But even human breed like rabbits for next 1000 years, I don’t think there will a shortage land area in this solar system which never had humans wander thru it.

      1. Also at this point in time the largest Telescope on earth can not see any indication of past human activity on the Moon.
        Though if looking at Earth from the Moon, you don’t any signs human activity on Earth, either.

        1. But what about the people who live on the Moon? It isn’t just about what people can see from Earth. And do we really know what type of scale lunar mining or human development will be at full implementation?

          You might think tire tracks and foot prints all over the landscape is pleasant looking but it is not the natural beauty of its natural state. Have you ever seen what people on quads do to the land? On the Moon, the terrain does not return to normal after a few years.

          This is compounded by any sustained presence year after year, generation after generation. With the Moon, just like with everything else space related, we have to think about the long term.

          I am not saying don’t build on the Moon, don’t mine, or don’t walk/drive around. But I am saying have respect for the significance the Moon has had for humans and don’t F it up more than we need to. Don’t go do doughnuts in lunar rovers.

          1. Bring a sand rake from your local golf course. It’s the $10 solution. 😀

            The real problem will be the jokers who strap on fake alien feet and go running around your habitat in the middle of the lunar night.

          2. “But what about the people who live on the Moon? It isn’t just about what people can see from Earth. And do we really know what type of scale lunar mining or human development will be at full implementation?”

            You might think tire tracks and foot prints all over the landscape is pleasant looking but it is not the natural beauty of its natural state. Have you ever seen what people on quads do to the land? On the Moon, the terrain does not return to normal after a few years. ”

            In US there are 4.04 million miles of paved roads, that means quads can drive on roads to whatever location they going to.
            I don’t see the Moon as ever having a million of miles of roads. The reason you have a lot roads in the US, and in particular in “wilderness areas” but also in most New York State [for example] is because of logger built the roads.
            And there isn’t trees on the Moon.
            So reason people have so many roads is they were built for them because various industry needed access to these areas.

            Now there may be enormous mining operations on the Moon, but if in near term [in next 100 to 500 years] if there is enormous mining operations, they probably going to export from the Moon.
            On earth generally a mining operation needs to get their product to a market- which means cities and cities with ports for ocean transport.

            On the Moon wherever you are mining you can have a space port. And this spaceport could go to other areas of the Moon, Cislunar, Mars, or Earth.
            They don’t need roads to transport their stuff.

            With large scale mining on the Moon one might do more underground than compared to Earth. If there was some economic reason, one could tunnel 100 km below the lunar surface [which is impossible on Earth].
            Mining operation on Earth, made roads [for free to the general public] on the Moon, any tunnels made for mining purposes might be later sold as office or residential space.

            What a large scaling mining operation on the Moon needs lots of electrical power. One could have power at the mining site or if there source of cheap energy, nearby a mining operation might ship ore to these location [and therefore have a limited amount of roads].
            It also seems to me, that even though the Moon is excellent place to harvest solar energy [on twice the solar energy as compared to best places on Earth], the Moon is also an excellent place to use nuclear energy. So in terms of large scale mining there may be a focus on making nuclear fuel. And where there minable nuclear fuel there probably also other heavy metals. And if mining nuclear fuel they also will probably be using nuclear reactors for electrical energy.

            Now for transport from Lunar point to lunar point, one can electrically accelerate your cargo on some kind rail, one can also catch the cargo on rail and recover the energy. So your energy transportation costs are the conversion losses of turning electrical into mechanical, then back again into electrical energy. The better you get at improving this efficiency of conversion to closer you get to zero energy cost to ship. [though not anywhere close at the present and can not get very close to 100% efficiency in this conversion of energy]

          3. Gbaikie, I think you’re right about the mix of solar and nuclear power, and for similar reasons I think Mercury will be the hottest spot to develop (pardon the pun).

            Mercury is dense, so it’s very rich in iron, heavy metals, transuranics, and rare earths, so mining there is going to be very productive. It has the same gravity as Mars, and people will probably be more comfortable in 0.4 G than 1/6th G. Importantly, sunlight there varies from 6300 and 14,500 W/m^2, so solar voltaic installations would produce about eight times as much power per area as on the moon, and not much concentration is needed before you can start smelting metals directly with sunlight. Like the moon, Mercury’s lack of atmosphere makes mass drivers feasible for launching ores or refined metals, and the Hohmann transfer time from Mercury to Earth is only about 3 months and the windows recur frequently.

            Mercury’s biggest advantage might be in food production. It receives 150% of the photons that Earth does, and all of them hit land. On Earth only about 10% of the surface area is suitable for crops or pastures, so Mercury could conceivable produce 15 times more food than Earth using equivalent intensive technology. Best of all, a solar day on Mercury is 88 Earth days, enough to raise plenty of temperate crops from sprouts to harvest. Since the sun never sets during this period, the light could be alternated in a 12 hour cycle between two sets of plants. Each square meter of collection area could thus be providing light for about 20 square meters of crops.

            Certainly there are some challenges, mainly thermal, but if I wanted to start flinging out virtually unlimited numbers of space colonies packed with food, that’s where I’d set up operations.

          4. I think you are absolutely right about mercury George. I think martians may be the first to exploit it.

            Wodun, until we get to the point of ‘caves of steel’ I think we will never run out of natural beauty to appreciate. Private owners will set up preserves if nothing else.

          5. I’m not trying to be a wet blanket but the things I mentioned should be considered. And if space cadets want to convince the rest of the human community that space is worthwhile, they should think about ways to communicate more effectively. Everyone can’t be reached, like a number of people who comment at Wired or other left wing sites, but it doesn’t make sense to alienate the people who can be reached.

  11. Now if we are talking about other moons or asteroids that is entirely different.

    Taking a look at asteroids is very interesting. They can be lifechanging either through their exploitation or by their tendancy to crash into planetary bodies. The one thing we don’t need out of this is the unintended consequences that could happen by people monkeying around with an asteroid’s orbit.

    Some sort of regulatory body that would prevent asteroids from unintentionally crashing to Earth would be desireable. Sadly, that would lead to other non safety related regulations but that is the way things work.

    1. If only there were some kind of financial incentive to keep goobers from piloting trillion-dollar payloads, or perhaps some existential reason to not destroy the Earth… Alas, DMV ladies will have to suffice.


      I fly a lot. People sometimes ask me if I’m afraid of flying. My stock answer is, “Why worry? The pilot’s on the plane, too.”

      1. This is your automated pilot speaking. This plane is equipped with control circuitry from the lowest bidder. Nothing can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong…

        Woden, NYC was a beautiful forest before they moved in all those people and skyscrapers. I wonder if anybody nostalgic for those forests cheered on 9-11?

        At least they still have that muggers paradise, central park.

        The law of thermodynamics. You can’t win. You can’t break even.

        1. Ken, one I heard from an old-timer, “If it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going!”

          I don’t imagine he flies much anymore. 🙁

      2. Accidents happen and in this case an accident could be an extinction level event so ya I would like to see some safeguards in place to prevent something like that. A company might do this on their own but I wouldn’t trust them too, nor would I trust the government to get it right on their own either.

        1. But as any corporate lawyer could explain, an extinction level event wouldn’t leave anyone with standing to sue in court, so it’s really not a problem. 😀

          1. More quotes: “No one will have the endurance. To collect on his insurance, Lloyd’s of london will be loaded when they go”

  12. I am surprised Tanja Masson-Zwaan isn’t coming after the U.S.’s moon rocks, we are carrying them on the books as an asset to tune of 300 billion. The then Soviet Union and the US already proved you can grab dust and rocks and keep them without having to compensate the rest of the planet. You would think after this long it would not be an issue.

    1. Vladislaw,

      Yes, the U.S. and Russia have established by their actions the term “Providence of Mankind” doesn’t mean it belongs to everyone, only that anyone is free to get their own Moon rocks.

      1. Being two opposing superpowers with vast nuclear arsenals did have its advantages. Nobody was going to question any peaceful deals we made because nobody was dumb enough to piss off both countries.

        Unfortunately the jackals at the UN wouldn’t think twice about stepping on anyone of lesser stature.

  13. The best result of this adventure that no one’s talking about is how they want to characterize all of the NEAs for possible mining operations, but that also means they will characterize all of the NEAs for possible collision with Earth as a side benefit. Talk about a private good producing a public good!

    Also a possible profit opportunity for Planetary Resources. “Hey, governments of the world – there’s a rock coming. We can move it out of the way. Of course, we’re going to do it anyway because we live on this planet too, but if you could cut us a check for $1 billion to cover our costs, that would be good too.”

  14. The only reason for the enormous value of the existing stockpile of Moon rocks is their rarity. AFAIK, there isn’t actually anything special about them.

    1. Most of humanity seems to think if something is written it magically has greater authority. I’m not much for authorities of any type. I always look for confirmation when it’s possible and internal contradiction in all cases.

  15. By Senate, I’m guessing you mean OUR Senate, the U.S. Senate, the one where Harry Reid from Nevada is in charge? If anyone is expecting him to lead his clowns, to fight ANY kind of grab for someone’s money or potential profits, don’t hold your breath.

    I don’t know of a wealth redistribution scheme the Democrats are not in favor of. Except the on e where they pay their own income taxes or live in (illegal immigrant) nanny taxes.

    1. That article has not one mention of making claims. The precedent will be set when that happens by physical possession. There is just too much unclaimed property for governments to stand in the way. We should not allow them to if they try.

  16. I finally got around to watching the Science Fiction movie ‘Moon’ not too long ago. The plot was meh, typically hollywood bashing of corporate greed run amok. But the scenes with the harvesters extracting the H3 from the regolith were cool. There were a couple of times when the point of view would move out to Moon orbit looking down at the harvesters cutting lines across the surface. It looked about as real as you could expect. Although there was a technical inconsistency in that they said the mining operation was on the dark side of the Moon. But there were several scenes where he was looking up at the Earth over head.

    Yalls comments also make me think about the Star Trek: First Contact. There was a scene when Riker was talking to Cochran and saying someone about being able to see whole cities on the surface of the Moon.

    1. Yes it was. One thing they never brought up was the thoughts of the guy who’d been cloned. How would you like to become famous as the man the company decided was too stupid to figure out he was a clone?

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