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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:

  • Committed foremost to urgent space colonization to ensure the survival of the human species, and understands the threats of biotechnology as well as AI

  • Has successfully developed the Space X reusable booster launcher with human capability, and a heavy lift vehicle (BFR)

  • Though his wealth may currently not be so great, he has enough business of his own supporting his ventures that he might be able to actually achieve space colonization on his own, or else with others who find him to be a credible partner

  • Has a brilliant mind technically, whereby he can assess the work of his engineers

The questionable elements:

  • Has been focused on Mars colonization without significant stated interest in the Moon or asteroids, though should be cooperative with other entities who want to buy Space X launches for these purposes and possibly other cooperation

  • Too focused on Earth launch without much work discussed about living off the land elsewhere

  • At one point started talking about the necessity of joint ventures with the government, which would mean it's just another delayed and slow to develop ... if ever developed ... goal, a serious drop in sense of urgency

  • Gets sucked into a rivalry with Jeff Bezos, which is unnecessary and seems ego driven

  • Is all too human, as witnessed by some unforced errors in public statements and activities, one of which legally impacted his position in the company Tesla he founded and developed

  • Sometimes seems to have fallen into the arrogance and complacency which comes with success and fame, and drifts

  • Diversion of focus into other exciting ventures which have nothing to do with space colonization, thereby diverting time, energy, and resources away from the goal of space colonization

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 richest man in the world sometimes (depending on the value of his stock in Amazon), and said he's spending about a billion dollars a year on his goal leading to space colonization

  • Has a goal of preserving the Earth by space industrialization and colonization

  • Sees the Moon as the next step beyond Earth

The questionable elements:

  • Too focused on Earth launch since founding Blue Origin in 2000

  • Has made very slow progress in his partly reusable launcher as he still has not reached orbit and has fallen way behind Elon Musk

  • Gets sucked into a rivalry with Elon Musk, which is unnecessary and seems ego driven

  • Gets sucked into politics via his acquisition of The Washington Post, which risks unnecessarily alienating some people over petty human matters...

  • Doesn't seem to have enough of a sense of urgency, e.g., in his announcement of his lunar lander and chosen destination of the Moon, his subsequent discussion of his reasons were the energy needs of Earth in the far, FAR future, his looking forward to future generations instead of the current one, and no mention of human extinction threats such as bioweapons, biotechnology, and AI run amok

  • Too secretive, despite being so wealthy and having so many potential partners with track records in space resources

  • Sometimes seems to have fallen into the arrogance and complacency which comes with success and fame

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:

  • Has the personal commitment and recurring income behind him.

  • Good experience operating habitats in low Earth orbit
The questionable elements:
  • Too much focus on these inflatables, apparently without investing significantly in anything else since the 1990s, so there are questions about how these inflatables will get us far, being still dependent upon Earth

  • Too secretive, so we just have to assume he's been sucked into the NASA contracting work on inflatables

  • A bit controversial due to his persistent interest in the paranormal and UFOs, which, while interesting, seems irrelevant (as I discuss on another website of mine -- extraterrestrial intelligence probably wouldn't interfere and may just let humans go extinct and wait for the next primate in tens of millions of years; humans can be seen as too selfish, narcissistic, and dangerous...)

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

Additional, children pages of this current parent page:

Missions, Plans, Concepts :
  How to Make Money
  Mining the Moon vs. Asteroids
  Leading Private Sector Projects
    Bigelow Aerospace
    Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos
    Planetary Resources
      PRI and PERMANENT
    Moon Express
    Astrobotics Lunar Polar Probe
    Deep Space Industries
    Russian Nuclear Manned Interorbital
    Golden Spike Lunar Mining
    Other Companies and Programs
    Others
  Leading Government Projects
  Research and Development Partners
    Space Studies Institute (SSI)
    Space Resources Roundtable
    NASA prize competitions
    Google Lunar X-Prize
  Past Efforts, Stalled or Creeping
    LunaCorp
    SpaceDev / NEAP
    Others
  Lunar, Asteroid Mining Company
    Business Plan
  Cosmic Greed: Jeff Bezos

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