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+Tony Demetriou will especially find this interesting.
 
Company announces it will mine asteroids for fun and profit. And the future.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/04/24/breaking-private-company-does-indeed-plan-to-mine-asteroids-and-i-think-they-can-do-it/

The private company Planetary Resources has announced serious plans to begin finding, reaching, and mining asteroids over the next few years.

Yes, seriously. And I strongly suspect they can do it.

They're not fooling around. The company is being run by Peter Diamandis, who started the very successful X Prize Foundation, has several ex-NASA folks running the engineering ops, and has the backing of several high-profile billionaires (yes, billionaires with a "B").

This is not pie-in-the-sky: it's a solid, step-by-step plan that starts slow and builds up. Details are in the link above, but my conclusion?

This could be the first step to a permanent human presence in space.
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aw man, I was gonna post that.
 
Nah, though I will say it is a very interesting development. I watched a doco on the X Prize a while ago, It is facinating to observe the differences between this sort of project and how NASA does things. I think this has a very real chance of success.
 
Much as I love NASA, there are very real constraints on what they are able to do, and while we need them to do all the nasty pioneering research, they're not really able to capitalise on all the good things that come out of it because they're owned by the people and thus can't really do the whole patenting/licensing/making oodles of money thing. This is good because everyone can use their discoveries, but bad because they could really use the money.

A wise man once said that the only way mankind would ever walk on Mars would be if the first thing he did on arrival was crack open a bottle of Coke and take a big swig. I think that may be true.

So it'll be interesting to watch as commercial groups finally start taking advantage of more than just low-earth orbit. Because they'll be able to further science and also make quite a bit of money, and while I worry about the further pollution of space, I don't care too much what they do to roving asteroids so long as they share as much data as possible on the composition and structure of the damn things with those scientists who are really into such relics of the early formation of the solar system.
 
"Lewicki quoted a current price of roughly $20,000 per liter to get water into space"
 
The cost's one of the big reasons why astronomers want to build new telescopes in antarctica. Because space is about $20k/kg, whereas Artarctica is something more like $50/kg, so you can get a much bigger telescope, and the size and heavy computing gear will help you overcome the worst limitations of ground-based observing. Space is still best, but not many people can afford it.
 
yes exactly. They can pave the way at tremendous cost and prove it can be done. The effort and expense of Vostok 1 is absolutely monstrous compared to Spaceshipone.
 
And in the meantime we get velcro, ballpoint pens and astronaut icecream.
 
As awesome as this plan is though, it only goes so far. Getting a whopping great heavy lenses into space will still be expensive. Unless you build it in space. Mmmm, space sweatshops.
 
Space kilns for mirrors would be awesome, and it wouldn't cost much energy at all to get and keep them spinning so the mirror has the right shape. Space polishing would be tricky.
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