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Re: starship-design: Private Asteroid Mining

In a message dated 9/11/97 3:59:29 AM, wharton@physics.ucla.edu (Ken Wharton)

>Jim writes:
>>Now this sounds interesting.  Maybe we should start a list, or at least a
>>discussion, on the requirements for getting all the materials we need for
>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...

In general metalic asteroids natural composition is high grade stainless
steel.  Melt, separte out the impurities and cast to suit.  Lighter alloys
and stuff are around near earth space (the moon is rich in titanium and
silicon).  Also lots of oil for plastics and composites.

A lot of prosses here do melt stuff and let it separte out by weigh.  If we
need gravity we can spin things in a cetrafuge.  BUT the lack of gravity
allows other processes, and radical alloy mixtures.

Heating is easy.  Lay out a few square kilometers of aliuminum foil and
focuse sunlight onto the rock you want heated.  As long as more energy is
beamed on it then it can radiate away it will keep geting hotter.

In general space is far more friendly to industrial manufacturing then earth.