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Asteroid Belt Economy

Asteroid Belt Economy

University of Alabama graduate students ponder building necessary infrastructure for space exploration. There are two missing pieces in their thinking:

  1. Instead of building outposts on craggy, randomly shaped rocks, it makes more sense to fabricate whatever you want (a space habitat) and spin it to create internal gravity-like force. With very cheap energy, plentiful building material left over from mining operations and limitless free space, building large luxurious habitats will become the norm.
  2. With an abundant, cheap energy source in the sun, how much sense will it make to shuttle energy around via laser beam? A study comparing the cost of collecting solar energy at varying orbital distances versus the cost of storing and moving it around via laser should be part of this consideration.

They are however, right on the mark about the need for supplies and tools being available to support mining operations.

Could asteroid mining become a space Gold Rush? – [uah.edu]

Grant Bergstue and Luke Burgess figure an asteroid mining space economy would be easier to build if there were the equivalent of a few Stuckey’s around out there.

The pair of graduate students in the Laser Science and Engineering Group (LSEG) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville say the day will come when a space economy will need outposts on dwarf planets like Ceres to provide fuel, liquids and supplies. Like Stuckey’s, the business of these outposts will be collecting energy in a centralized place for distribution, and like sodas and Slim Jims in convenience store aisles, water and sundries will also be there for the space traveler. It’s the infrastructure that will be needed to collect and distribute that energy that intrigues the pair. “A lot of our research is on establishing some sort of energy infrastructure in space, because if you are going to work in space, you will need energy there,” Burgess said. They see lasers as the only feasible space energy pipelines, and have written papers on what an efficient laser distribution system would look like and on using laser energy for propulsion and mining activities.

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