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  • However the Moon is not the only possible source for

    2020-02-10

    However, the Moon is not the only possible source for space resources. Asteroids, in particular near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), can provide an alternative source for propellant and other materials, sometimes at lower cost. There are an expected 4000 NEAs that require less propellant (delta-V) per trip than the Moon\'s surface, and the lack of differentiation creates higher mineral concentrations than any terrestrial or lunar deposits for certain elements [3]. This implies that NEAs are necessarily a part of the cislunar economy, and may compete with the Moon in the market for propellant and other materials. It is then interesting to ask whether or not a COTS-like program for asteroid mining would be beneficial for the industry and NASA, and how it ApexPrep DNA Plasmid Miniprep Column Only can compete or collaborate with the LCOTS program. This paper aims to follow the methodology of the LCOTS proposal by Zuniga et al. [1] to study a possible Asteroid COTS-like (ACOTS) program, its relevance for the current state of the industry, and its relationship with the LCOTS program and the development of the cislunar economy as a whole.
    The LCOTS program The Lunar Commercial Orbital Transfer Services program was published first in 2015 by the same team that created the COTS program [1]. The goal is to develop a new strategy that leverages the US commercial space industry and entrepreneurial attributes to allow a return to the Moon within NASA\'s budgets, based on best practices from the COTS program. The idea is to take advantage of lunar resources for Mars exploration, without NASA having to incur in all the costs of developing the capabilities. The LCOTS proposal has three main objectives: With these goals in mind, LCOTS proposes a phased development that allows incremental development and demonstration of capabilities, going in line with the COTS practice of providing several off-ramps for NASA and guaranteeing time between phases to evaluate progress. The three-phase program starts with resource prospecting and demonstration of landing capabilities, and ends with NASA contracts with several providers for the delivery of propellant to a cislunar station. The three phases can be summarized as follows: These phases can be similarly applied to the development of an ACOTS program, since Gene dosage essentially comply with all the COTS best practices. In order to do this, the first step is to determine which asteroid resources are of interest for Mars and Moon missions, and for the cislunar economy. Then the objectives of the program will be set, and these will determine the potential capabilities to develop. These will then be evaluated following a similar scheme to that of Zuniga et al. [1], determining which capabilities should be left for the industry alone and which should NASA include in ACOTS. Final result is a high-level outline of a possible ACOTS program, which can be compared with the LCOTS program to find synergies, common ground, and to determine how they could be implemented best.
    Asteroid resources Interest in asteroid mining has grown in recent years, with companies such as Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources aiming to mine NEAs for propellant and other resources [4], [5]. NEAs contain most of the resources needed for space activities, from volatiles and water to structural metals and semiconductors, and most of them are, unlike planetary bodies, undifferentiated, that is, they present a more or less uniform composition with no core, mantle, and crust, which allows much higher concentrations of scarce metals than what can be found on Earth or the Moon. This, along with the fact that an expected 4000 NEAs require less propellant (delta-V) to access than the Moon\'s surface, makes them a very interesting target for mining resources for use in space, and in some cases return to Earth [3]. In the context of supporting missions to Mars and the Moon, and providing resources for the emerging cislunar economy, there are four kind of asteroid resources that are most interesting in the short term: water, ferrous metals, semiconductor metals, and platinum group metals (PGMs). These four resources will drive the selection of the capabilities for any potential ACOTS program: