Leave the Asteroids Where They Are

Many current proposals for mining asteroids include the process of towing the asteroid back to Earth orbit to extract the valuable minerals. Leave the asteroids where they are. Towing them back to Earth assumes that they will only have value on Earth.

It will take many years for us to develop the infrastructure necessary to mine an asteroid, in any location. We have to lift a lot of stuff up out of Earths gravity well. We can do that most efficiently by only lifting the pieces of machinery that we need to make the other things.

Establishing a base on the Moon first will give us an opportunity to test new machine designs and also can provide the raw materials needed to make habitats and mining tools and even propulsion energy or fuel. We don’t need to land on the Moon to use the materials. They can be “thrown” out into space by a linear accelerator and used where they are needed.

Mars may offer another step toward the asteroid belt (where the real riches are) but using Mars as a base requires going down into the gravity well and bringing back up anything useful. It may be useful as a colony base for humans, but it won’t be as useful for supplies as will mining chunks of rock that are already out of the gravity well.

The idea is to go one step at a time, taking with us only the bare minimum that we need to extract raw materials and build the next step. Eventually, we will reach the asteroid belt and begin mining operations there. Once we have in place the stepping stones to get to the asteroids, there will be needs for supply materials all along the way. Only the items that are most valuable back on Earth will be transported all the way back to materialize wealth. The rest will be kept and used where they are. Supplies that are needed in space, like water and building materials, will be more valuable where they are than on Earth. As the wealth base in the asteroid belt grows, many things will become more valuable in space.

Leave the asteroids where they are because that is where we are going. That is going to be our new home.

SEE ALSO:
Stepping Stones to Space

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