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RE: starship-design: Private Asteroid Mining


> I imagine one of the biggest problems will be transforming a lump of rock
> into useful form (glass, steel, wire, tubing, etc.) while still in orbit.
> What would that entail?  Miniature orbiting steel mills and glass factories?
> I know next to nothing about how such things are made on Earth, but I would
> imagine that there are members who do.  I would also imagine that many
> element-separation schemes involve the use of gravity; something we couldn't
> use in orbit.  Is this right?  Or is it all done with different boiling/
> melting points?  Never really thought much about it before...

Well yes, quite a lot of our current extraction methods do depend on gravity.
But, as someone pointed out, there is no real difference between gravity
and properly applied inertia. If it really becomes necessary, I'm sure that 
some sort of centrifuge can be built. However, I tend to think that we will 
find vastly superior ways of extracting these ores in zero g.

For instance, if we melt down a rock containing a mixture of elements and 
compounds at appropriate temperatures using a solar powered furnace (free
energy) it may well be that the various elements will disassociate themselves
automatically. Simply changing the temperature may produce wildly different 

We are currently conducting experiments to test this and other concepts.