Mission Plans and Concepts for Lunar and Asteroid Mining
This section covers specific organizations and individuals that have been putting forth mission proposals and concepts, or trying to develop plans, or attempting to raise capital for projects which would directly benefit the thrust for utilization of asteroidal and/or lunar material.
At some point, a new space race will ensue, between multinationals, and PERMANENT would like to help in networking the best people in this field (e.g., for joint ventures), bringing new people up to speed quickly, and marketing the projects of the best entities.
PERMANENT has a database of people and organizations which it has been maintaining since the 1980s, a Who's Who of space resources. The people mainly include engineers who have done actual work on space resources, but also includes advocates, lawyers, artists, and many other kinds of people. The organizations are mainly those focused on space resources research and development or advocacy. This database is not online for the general public, but that is planned for the near future, after a process of trying to contact everybody and doing some house cleaning.
This section is closely related to the section, Law, Governments, and Private Sector history and issues.
Many, many companies and wealthy individuals have stated a goal of developing space resources since before 1980 and started activities, and I've seen so many die out or make such slow progress that I have become quite skeptical of ventures.
Quite shockingly, from what I've observed, it doesn't seem like wealthy people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have been absorbing or funding some of the older small ventures.
Over the decades, there have been many projects which have started off with much fanfare and subsequently died, and which I've just deleted from the main list but keep records of the people and plans.
There's a lot of talk about the next space race between companies, but the main space race is against time, for human self-sufficient colonization to happen before we destroy ourselves with advancing technology in biotechnology / nanotechnology / AI, and it now looks like we will lose that race, due largely to human weaknesses -- greed, selfishness, narcissism, egos, and excessive secrecy. Maybe a more community oriented primate of sufficient competence will come along in a few tens of millions of years, if we don't wipe them out now in our own greedy development and lack of sufficient governmental regulation and enforcement, which is still mostly fanfare and grossly insufficient. Maybe the human species is simply too dangerous and narcissistic. With the tremendous amount of financial resources in the world, only a tiny microscopic amount goes into space colonization efforts, and that's grossly overwhelmed by what goes into military and environmentally destructive businesses and consumer preferences ...
It is abundantly obvious that we are not a species to cooperate to colonize space, and it will come down to some wealthy individual leaders and committed organizations sticking to this focus.
Currently, I try to rank the entities as I perceive the probability of their success. There is a section on each in much more detail, but briefly, I'd rank them as follows:
#1: Elon Musk and Space X
Elon Musk is not the richest man but he has a lot of positives:
The questionable elements:
Long Live Elon Musk, please. Goodness knows what would happen to his company and venture if anything happened to Elon Musk.
For more details, see the section on Elon Musk and Space X.
Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin
Jeff Bezos is the richest man who is committed to space colonization, and he understands the advantages of the Moon so he has that in his pipeline for the future. His positives:
The questionable elements:
For more details, see the section on Elon Musk and Space X.
3. Robert Bigelow and Bigelow Aerospace
Robert Bigelow impresses me as a person, is committed to space colonization as his purpose in life, and has good money behind him in his Budget Suites chain. Bigelow Aerospace is best known for buying up NASA's abandoned inflatable habitats business in the 1990s and developing it further, then contracting back to NASA. His positives:
Bigelow Aerospace's work into inflatable habitats could be a piece of the puzzle of a conglomerate developing space, but it doesn't look like Bigelow will make self-sufficient space colonies on its own. (I was very enthusiastic about Bigelow in the 1990s but here we are at nearly 2020 ...)
Robert Bigelow is now age 74 (as of 2019) but looks fit. I'm not so sure about the commitments of the people under him. Long live Robert Bigelow.
Here's our page on Bigelow Aerospace
Planetary Resources / Arkyd / ConsenSus
Led by humanistic fundraiser Peter Diamandis and the very personable former NASA scientist Chris Lewicky who was Flight Director of the Spirit & Opportunity Mars rovers and Phoenix Mars lander, Arkyd Astronautics / Planetary Resources, Inc., was founded in 2009 with considerable secrecy and had a big splash in 2012 with press releases and outreach when they obtained some support by very wealthy people, for developing space resources. Their focus has been almost exclusively on asteroids/NEOs near Earth, with funding going into satellites to survey the sky, and reportedly some asteroid mining equipment to fly to a chosen target. They have flown a few test satellites for sky surveys, though the results have been kept largely secret.
Due to the major names and apparently deep pockets, it was believed that they may have the staying power to make something happen.
Instead, they have withered financially, and when a new round of funding failed in 2018, they were acquired by a cryptocurrency blockchain company, ConsenSys.
What happens from here, who knows ... as there is a lot of idealism in cryptocurrencies, a lot of rich egos, but many ways to divert focus ... but maybe some way to give lots of people a stake. Cryptocurrencies have been a big casino, and some blockchains have struggled under transactional demand. I hope they succeed and my skepticism is proven wrong. However, at this time, as of late 2019, I've heard very little since that 2018 acquisition. I'm hesitant to rely on the hype and dependencies of blockchain for development of space resources, but at this point, maybe we should try something new and different like this. I just wish more information on progress was coming out of there.
As noted in my page on lunar vs. asteroidal resources, I am very skeptical of asteroids due to additional unknowns, risks, and project time required, relative to the lunar poles which seem a much better bet. Maybe they can apply blockchain stakes and contracts to lunar polar mining as an alternative.
Here's our outdated page on Planetary Resources
Deep Space Industries (DSI) / Bradford Space
Two leading and tireless advocates of space resources development over the decades, Rick Tumlinson and David Gump, founded Deep Space Industries (DSI) in 2013, for developing space resources, and selling various interorbital transportation services and satellite maintenance to bootstrap. It is mainly the track record of these two exceptional individuals which has kept their entity on my list.
On New Years Day in 2019, DSI was acquired by Bradford Space, a large European space company with long focus on orbital and interorbital services and technologies. It's an interesting development, but we shall see how much of the focus and ongoing developments continue.
Here is our outdated page on Deep Space Industries
Please see the list of links below, which include links to private sector ventures.
PERMANENT.com > Missions, Plans, Concepts
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