Category Archives: Asteroids

Why Reusable Rockets Make Asteroid Retrieval Worthwhile

Ice extracted from asteroids or lunar craters will not be competitive with fuel launched from Earth on reusable rockets costing fifty thousand dollars. This should concern us.

15 tons of high quality fuels trucked from sophisticated refineries in Houston then launched for $250,000 on Falcon 9s in Brownsvile will always outcompete expensive fuels cracked from water-ice extracted out of lunar craters using as of yet non-existent multi-billion dollar technologies. In fact, the ability to launch tons of fuels from Earth to LEO on reusable rockets may delay the development of in-space resource utilization for decades.

When Musk achieves reusable rockets, development of all near Earth resources may be delayed from any cislunar source – even unfortunately asteroids with their superior concentrations of ore and favorable zero g environment. This ironically however provides a reason for taxpayer support of asteroid retrieval: private/public research partnerships teleoperating on an asteroid in Earth orbit owned by all U.S. citizens (NASA) could jump-start technologies humanity will need to develop asteroids. Humanity needs access to asteroids long-term. Asteroids – not the moon – will fuel a billion-fold increase in our industrial base. Despite a huge disparity in initial cost-competition with launches from Earth, government subsidized R&D on asteroids placed in an elliptical orbit around Earth could advance for-profit Free World leadership of in-space resource utilization by decades.


Philip Metzger at TEDx Orlando

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 10.30.21 AM“I can remember thinking, truthfully, these words about twenty years ago: ‘That, unfortunately,
the space program is all dressed up – with no place to go’…now you might’a guessed, I don’t
believe that anymore. Now here’s what happened that changed my perspective.  About ten
years ago I became part of a team at NASA that develops technologies to utilize resources in
space […] a robotosphere which will grow to have an economic output a million times that of
the United States. Imagine a million Americas in space. Then in just ten more years: America a
billion times.”

Atomic Ginger: “Asteroids and You!”

“…the unknown…”

“Gold will be worthless in the future, it will be used for trinkets and tissue paper
and novelty soaps!”
“That sure is a funny lookin’ moon!”
“Inside every asteroid nougat there’s a creamy center filled with wondrous delights!”