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Re: RE: RE: starship-design: YES, we might do it.

In a message dated 10/13/98 12:09:34 PM, zkulpa@zmit1.ippt.gov.pl wrote:

>> From: David Levine <david@playlink.com>
>> I'm assuming that early mining experiments would be performed by
>> industry already in orbit and that by 2050 space mining will still be
>> operating at a loss, with predictions for large profit in the future.
>> Also, perhaps by the time space mining really takes off the biggest
>> customers might not be on the Earth.
>I think that space mining will have rather little use
>as a source of raw materials for Earth-bound industry.
>99% of its output will be used by space infrastructure, 
>or by such places like the Moon, lacking some essential resources,
>and much cheaper than Earth concerning transportation costs.

This is a big problem.  Transport costs to space can come way down.  If there
is no major demand for space mining materials, it would stay cheaper to just
ship up finished products, even heavy industrial products from Earth.

I'm hoping the extreamly rich and plentifull ores in space, the cheap power
for refineries and heavy industry, and the freedom from polution constraints,
and the possibility of exotic zero-g alloyies and materials like foamed
metals, will leverage up a space mining infastructure.  If not, and if it
can't be shiped cheaply to Earth, space will see relativly little development.

>And there is a big bootstrap problem:
>space mining is impractical without developed human 
>space infrastructure, and building such infrastructure 
>is impossible without space mining...

Exactly.  And if things on that scale arnt being done in space, our starship
project if far far less likly.

>-- Zenon