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Earth-buzzing Asteroid Would Be Worth $195B If We Could Catch It

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the i'll-give-it-to-you-for-$99B dept.

Government 265

coondoggie writes "The asteroid NASA says is about the half the size of a football field that will blow past Earth on Feb 15 could be worth up to $195 billion in metals and propellant. That's what the scientists at Deep Space Industries, a company that wants to mine these flashing hunks of space materials, thinks the asteroid known as 2012 DA14 is worth — if they could catch it."

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Re-position the Planet (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42880855)

Re-position the Planet. We could catch it full in the face. How much would it be worth then?

Re:Re-position the Planet (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881037)

Re-position the Planet. We could catch it full in the face. How much would it be worth then?

I'd pay for it to land on Mecca

Re:Re-position the Planet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881151)

I'd pay for it to land on Mountain View

Re:Re-position the Planet (0)

davester666 (731373) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881301)

It would be like a small zit.

I'm sure the mid-west US states wouldn't mind catching it in the face. They like it that way.

Re:Re-position the Planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881743)

Thank you Doctor Sauron for your, well... Unique Insight.

Doggy Dollars.... (5, Funny)

rts008 (812749) | about a year and a half ago | (#42880859)

I'm sure that's the same thought my neighbors dog has while it is chasing the cars passing by.

Re:Doggy Dollars.... (1)

Goffee71 (628501) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881003)

That's one of biggest misuses of the would "could" in marketing history. I'm sure your dog would come out richer, their claim with no basis on observed or measurable reality is a (cool, admittedly), wild-ass guess. At least we know what's in a car.

Editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42880867)

Whatever happened to them?

Cost benefit analysis (0)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | about a year and a half ago | (#42880885)

$195B - ($100B Caching $95B Extracting and deorbiting) = Big fat zero!

Who owns the asteroid? (5, Interesting)

gTsiros (205624) | about a year and a half ago | (#42880901)

The US? The world? An individual?

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42880989)

It is property of the United States and the IRS will certainly be there to collect if anyone were do manage to profit from it. Didn't you know that the US government can do anything they want anywhere in the universe?

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (5, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881007)

Whoever can land on it. Possession being 9/10s of the law and all that.

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881013)

Finders Keepers :)

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881015)

Finders keepers

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (5, Interesting)

Zouden (232738) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881099)

The outer space treaty says that nations can't "claim ownership" of space bodies and they can't use them for weapons testing. But AFAIK that doesn't prohibit commercial exploitation of an asteroid. Whoever can catch it and start mining it has a pretty good claim to it. Who's going to stop them? And for what purpose?

A legal battle would arise if another company tried mining the same asteroid. They'd need to set up a way of staking a claim. But we're not nearly at that stage yet.

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (1)

rossdee (243626) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881187)

Did the US Senate ratify the outer space treaty?
How many spaceships has the UN got to enforce the provisions of this treaty?

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (4, Informative)

Zouden (232738) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881245)

Yes it's ratified, and how is the number of spaceships relevant to the question of mining rights?

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (3, Funny)

isorox (205688) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881393)

Did the US Senate ratify the outer space treaty?
How many spaceships has the UN got to enforce the provisions of this treaty?

They could just rent space on a Russian rocket. Sound famillier?

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881195)

A legal battle would arise ...

Among other types of battles.

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (1)

theVarangian (1948970) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881219)

The outer space treaty says that nations can't "claim ownership" of space bodies and they can't use them for weapons testing. But AFAIK that doesn't prohibit commercial exploitation of an asteroid. Whoever can catch it and start mining it has a pretty good

That'll go out the window as soon as the first superpower develops a serious capability to assert and enforce ownership of objects in space

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (4, Insightful)

Zouden (232738) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881259)

Of course, but that superpower would also need the desire to enforce ownership. There's just no incentive when they can just encourage Chinese or US mining companies to do the dirty work.

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (3, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881343)

If you catch an asteroid, right then you gain the power you need to demand anything you want of any nation.

'Cause if you can catch it, you can drop it.

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881411)

But you are also an easy target on that asteroid.

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881277)

Why would anyone stop them? Just wait until they try to bring any of it back down to Earth (*), and then take it off them by force.

(*) or anywhere else they would want to send the metals. Basically, metals are useless if they stay on the asteroid, and they can only become valuable if they are brought to some location where there are (or will be) people. Take the stuff off them wherever that is.

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (4, Informative)

LingNoi (1066278) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881399)

The whole point of these materials being valuable is due to the fact that launching said material into space is expensive, so the materials wouldn't be taken back to earth, they'd be used in space.

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881279)

The outer space treaty says that nations can't "claim ownership" of space bodies and they can't use them for weapons testing. But AFAIK that doesn't prohibit commercial exploitation of an asteroid

But many (all?) launching nations have laws that any meteorites, space-craft, or space debris belongs to the government. Which would include any metals you return from space. And even if you drop them into international waters, and you don't get to them first, normal salvage rules probably apply. So you'll need a large landing/crashing area in a desert which you own mineral rights to, in a country that doesn't regulate the trade in meteorites.

A legal battle would arise if another company tried mining the same asteroid.

Legal? Damn you had me all excited there for a moment.

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881307)

The outer space treaty says that nations can't "claim ownership" of space bodies and they can't use them for weapons testing. But AFAIK that doesn't prohibit commercial exploitation of an asteroid

But many (all?) launching nations have laws that any meteorites, space-craft, or space debris belongs to the government. Which would include any metals you return from space. And even if you drop them into international waters, and you don't get to them first, normal salvage rules probably apply. So you'll need a large landing/crashing area in a desert which you own mineral rights to, in a country that doesn't regulate the trade in meteorites.

In a world where record companies have been buying laws, it seems unlikely that any company capable of engaging in space mining wouldn't quickly be able to get the laws changed to something more up to date. Only in this instance, it would actually be a positive change to allow actual free enterprise.

Re:Who owns the asteroid? (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881417)

"...And even though, prospective investor, both national and international law is currently wildly ambiguous, we are fully prepared to use your money to challenge both the US government and the UN itself if necessary to... ahem... sir... I couldn't help but notice that you've stopped signing that cheque... hand cramp? Maybe? Little cramp in your hand?... Oh, are you gonna walk it off... okay, okay then... Will we just wait here then?... Yeah, we'll just wait here... I'm sure he'll be back soon... Sir?... Sir?.... Sir?"

Supply & demand (5, Insightful)

dingen (958134) | about a year and a half ago | (#42880905)

But... if $195B worth of metals would be added to the market, wouldn't the value of metals drop because of supply & demand, resulting in a much less profitable asteroid?

Re:Supply & demand (3, Interesting)

corbettw (214229) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881023)

The global economy is worth almost $70 trillion dollars; a sudden influx of 0.27% of that amount would have negligible impact on the value of goods and services.

Re:Supply & demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881115)

microeconomics fail.

Re:Supply & demand (1)

Redmancometh (2676319) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881231)

You see the forest but not the trees. Think slightly less macro.

Re:Supply & demand (1)

fatphil (181876) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881389)

What's the global economy of *stuff* worth, though? I think the last figure I saw showed that 95% of the "global economy" was in fact just the value of bets about the future value or change of value of things that themselves might or not be *stuff*, rather than actually being *stuff*. In which case, the impact of this new *stuff* would be 20 times higher.

However, their premise is totally bogus, it seems to ignore even the most basic economic principles, such at laws of supply and demand. I don't know why I even clidked on the story, I knew it would wind me up...

Re:Supply & demand (2)

Respawner (607254) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881405)

Because markets behave rationally ?
The prospect of a sudden influx of rare earth materials or fuels couldn't drive down the commodity pricing ? Even if this prospect seems baseless right now (cost of recovering the materials seems rather high) it could still have an effect on pricing.

Besides that, OP was wrong to (didn't RTFA I guess), unless you want to "land" the astroid on earth, the $195B isn't added directly on the market, rather it decreases the amount of materials needed to be send into space @ $10m /tonne.
However, for this you would need to create refineries and more in space (right now they are still in prototype scale, with "70-lb DragonFlies"). As such I highly doubt that the exact cost/benefit could be determinned at this point in time, since (space program) estimates are inaccurate.

Re:Supply & demand (5, Insightful)

jonadab (583620) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881419)

It is, however, possible to flood the market for particular commodities. A few centuries ago, for example, Spain mishandled their newfound wealth from Central America and flooded the European gold market. OPEC has repeatedly been held together because the country with the largest production has consistently and deliberately reduced their production to compensate whenever other member nations produce too much in a given year. If they had not done so, the market would have been saturated and the commodity price of crude oil would have dropped significantly.

An asteroid made of mostly iron, to have any impact on the commodity market for iron or steel, would have to be worth a good deal more than $139 billion. An asteroid containing significant amounts of some less common material (e.g., rare earth metals) could potentially have an impact on the commodity prices of those -- if it were economic to capture and mine the thing, which of course it's not, at our current level of technology.

In fact, however, this asteroid probably doesn't contain anywhere near $139 billion worth of metals at commodity prices. (It's only about the size of a football field, and they don't yet know precisely what it's made of.) The article talks about how much its materials would be worth in orbit, which is mostly a function of how expensive it is to get things up there from the surface. For example, they're imagining it might contain water, which could be used as reaction mass for spacecraft. On the surface, water is one of the cheapest materials there is. (Air is even cheaper.) But it costs money to lift it out of Earth's gravity well.

They're dreaming, though. Without sci-fi technology (e.g., a tractor beam), capturing (let alone mining) a passing asteroid would be a ridiculously expensive (and also dangerous) operation, and all the equipment and personnel needed to do it would have to be lifted to orbit from the surface.

Re:Supply & demand (1)

jamesh (87723) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881653)

The global economy is worth almost $70 trillion dollars; a sudden influx of 0.27% of that amount would have negligible impact on the value of goods and services.

The realised possibility of mining asteroids might have an impact though. Eventually.

Re:Supply & demand (2)

dintech (998802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881159)

Just release it to the market slowly, like the OPEC do.

Re:Supply & demand (5, Insightful)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881249)

Different market. They're talking about the value of these materials in orbit, not here on earth.

Re:Supply & demand (3, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881287)

America is sitting on 3 trillion barrels of oil. What keeps the economy in check is that it still needs to be mined and extracted.

Same with this asteroid. It wouldn't be a sudden dump of $195bn onto the market. Just like the 175tcf of gas that have suddenly been discovered in Australia haven't made a dent in the economy, instead it's just changed the share price of a handful of company.

Re:Supply & demand (1)

mister2au (1707664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881305)

Even worse ... that $195B is based on potential cost to get the equivalent water and minerals into space

There is currently no demand for it for water for fuel or mineral for in-space construction ... so it has a theoretical $195B avoided supply cost and actual $0B demand value ...

Current value on that basis = $0 !

Re:Supply & demand (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881373)

Given the existence of options markets, you could probably assign a market value to parking the thing in some convenient orbit for later use... It wouldn't necessarily be a terribly high market value; but, if you could find an orbit stable enough, the value of an option to exploit some slice of the asteroid at your leisure over the next several decades probably wouldn't be zero...

Without a good parking orbit, and some rather sci-fi hardware already in place to park it, the whole issue is moot, of course.

Re:Supply & demand (4, Informative)

jkflying (2190798) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881645)

If we could stick into the Earth-Moon L4/L5 points it could sit there for a few million years without any sci-fi hardware. The difficulty is getting it there in the first place.

I think the reason there isn't any demand for orbital construction is because there isn't enough materials. If we could get that sorted, the construction opportunities will follow.

Re:Supply & demand (1)

Lazarian (906722) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881317)

I think the 195 billion number is an estimate based on the value of a quantity of metal that has been launched into earth orbit. I'm not sure what the price per pound of iron is to launch it on a rocket to LEO, but up there it's worth a lot more than sitting down here.

Re:Supply & demand (1)

fatphil (181876) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881459)

So, what's the value of the sun?

Do such statements even *make sense*?

Re:Supply & demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881503)

Between $10k and $20k per kilogram, depending on a lot of variables such as altitude, inclination, launch system, etc. Source: Space Mission Engineering: The New SMAD (2011 by Wertz, Everett & Puschell), p. 37.

Made up numbers are made up. (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881385)

FTFA:

Still, according to DSI experts, if 2012 DA14 contains 5% recoverable water, that alone -- in space as rocket fuel -- might be worth as much as $65 billion. If 10% of its mass It could mass which could range from as little as 16,000 tons or as much as one million tons -- is easily recovered iron, nickel and other metals, that could be worth -- in space as building material -- an additional $130 billion.

Which ignores that there is no market for raw metal "in space as a building material". And sadly, after 50 fucking years in space, there's still not even a market for propellant in space. The only current market might be to supply the ISS with water, (two tonnes per astronaut per year perhaps) but it's unlikely that they would trust asteroid-water unless they control the purification process.

So there's science value as the first sample return of its kind. There's maybe a few million per year for water for ISS. And you might be able to sell some of it as crude bulk shielding to a future project.

But one day... <sigh>

Re:Made up numbers are made up. (1)

jkflying (2190798) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881657)

If the materials were a little cheaper, we might want to consider doing our construction up there. Particularly now that we're getting all the CNC/3D printing tech up and running.

Re:Supply & demand (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881425)

It's important to note that the plan seems to be to never send the materials back to earth..

Still, according to DSI experts, if 2012 DA14 contains 5% recoverable water, that alone -- in space as rocket fuel -- might be worth as much as $65 billion. If 10% of its mass It could mass which could range from as little as 16,000 tons or as much as one million tons -- is easily recovered iron, nickel and other metals, that could be worth -- in space as building material -- an additional $130 billion.

Re:Supply & demand (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881697)

less people would get rich, however it would still be worth a lot to humans as a group.

Space mining ROI - fuel (4, Interesting)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42880907)

It seems to me that the biggest bottleneck in making a ROI for something like this isn't even so much the logistics of getting up there, mining it, and bringing it back down gracefully. It's the fuel consumption. Short of nuke power, we haven't got anything approaching the energy requirements to make this efficient.

I haven't looked into Deep Space Industries all that much or what their business plan is, but what I understand seems kind of pie in the sky and unrealistic. Mining operations are huge capital investments. So would be the infrastructure necessary to bring the materials down here once they're harvested, and getting the equipment up there.

Granted, you'd not have to worry about the ecological impact mining on the planet causes or the associated government regulation, but short of establishing a fairly large extraplanet base where most operations, including smelting, occur, with massive space mining ships like what you'd see in science fiction movies, I can't imagine this being profitable anytime soon... Don't get me wrong, but how are these guys NOT some sort of "dotcom company" selling vaporware?

Re:Space mining ROI - fuel (1)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42880941)

It seems to me that the biggest bottleneck in making a ROI for something like this isn't even so much the logistics of getting up there, mining it, and bringing it back down gracefully. It's the fuel consumption.

I think the ability to monetize the asteroid would be a serious concern too.

a. How many years would it take to materialize a sale for $195B worth or raw materials?
b. Wouldn't the price of these materials fall as you sell them in large amounts?

Re:Space mining ROI - fuel (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881319)

Wouldn't the price of these materials fall as you sell them in large amounts?

Nope. Most mines close with the materials selling for more than when they opened. When you take long enough to sell it off, the price will go up by the time you are done, even if it's only imaginary as inflation happens. Often it's worth even more in real dollars by the time you are done selling it.

Re:Space mining ROI - fuel (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42880943)

I think much of their ROI comes from the fact that this is material already out of Earth gravity well. Mining it and putting it on Earth orbit would take a tiny fraction of the fuel it would take to ship the same amount from Earth surface. Hence it becomes extremely valuable as the cost of 1 ton of something on earth orbit is the raw materials + $10 million or so in launch costs. If the costs of getting same 1 ton of raw materials from an asteroid to Earth orbit is considerably less than $10 million a ton (and it should be), there is value there.

If all of the fuel it takes to move the goods from the asteroid to Earth orbit can also be mined from the asteroid itself, it makes even more sense.

Sending any of it, except perhaps small quantities of very rare precious metals or initial samples, back down to Earth makes absolutely no sense.

Re:Space mining ROI - fuel (1)

Zouden (232738) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881131)

Exactly, but it's still only worth $195b if someone is willing to pay that. The annual budget of NASA is $16b and I doubt they're going to spend every cent they get on space minerals.

Re:Space mining ROI - fuel (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881205)

You're not thinking it through.

OK, if we're going to do a large scale (cultural) space exploration and exploitation, fine, it's tenable. But for the purposes of getting it back to the planet?

Either way you slice it, you're going to have to build multiple refineries (ore, fuel, etc.), foundries, factories, and power generation facilities IN SPACE to make it work at any commercially reasonable scale. Those facilities will need to either be built in place or launched from the planet, which will cost massive, massive money.

In all likelihood, it would have to be done in several progressive phases, with small "John Deere" size refinery/factory/etc. facilities launching from the planet to make the larger facilities from space-refined materials - and then they'd have to actually find all the necessary materials in space to build said refineries. And at that point, before even half way to making money or getting raw materials planet side to be manufactured into goods, you're talking about several times the GDP a fairly wealthy nation. You might as well put an iPad factory up there.

Let's not forget, this is all going to take people. Very little of this work will be able to be done 'remotely', planetside, especially at first. There is no knowledge of how it's supposed to work so that we can automate it; automation takes experience with how the routine of a system works. If you think that the eg. temporary housing, and employment of workers in eg. inhospital places like the Bakken reserve area is expensive (it is: living in a camper in -20F weather using portable propane heaters becomes financially "reasonable" due to lack of availability of anything else) or that employing a lot of people in a locale without any pre-existing infrastructure to speak of is cheap (it isn't - people are pulling down hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for uneducated, OTJ training work, often without a sound drug background/check vetting), how do you think it would be for space mining? Probably not that different, just markedly more expensive with fewer hookers.

Re:Space mining ROI - fuel (4, Insightful)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881387)

Actually I think you're applying a lot of conventional earth-bound thinking to an enterprise which is not.

Earth mining has a lot of constraints which space doesn't. For one thing, solar power is perpetual and constant. There's no gravity - so structures don't need to support their own mass, only the forces they experience due to their own accelerations/rotations. You could use kilometers wide mylar sheeting to build solar furnaces, and provided you didn't spin it or over-tension it it would be just fine.

Building volume is practically limitless, there's no environmental issues or clean up to worry about (though not scattering debris in the orbital regions would be important). There's also no convection - anything you heat up is only going to lose heat by inefficient radiative cooling. Keeping hot things hot would be ridiculously easy.

The single biggest problem with space mining is refining - and it's not a problem, we've just never thought about how to do it in that environment. The goal of the mining/refining process is to use as few depleteable items as possible - i.e. you'd want to do as much as you could with free-floating masses of material and focussed sunlight as you could.

Factories, refineries, mining picks/drills/whatever - all these ideas are irrelevant in such an environment. And all this can be done in an area less then a light-second away from Earth - so no need for any humans to be in space whatsoever.

Re:Space mining ROI - fuel (5, Interesting)

sFurbo (1361249) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881081)

It seems their plan is not to bring the materials to Earth, but to use them to build things in space, where things are much more valuable (is it something like 10.000$ per kg to launch a satellite?). IIRC, the first part of their scheme is simply to extract water and other volatiles, which can be used for propellants. The required investment would be much smaller than for producing objects, and the cost in orbit is still at least what it costs to launch it on a rocket.

Re:Space mining ROI - fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881291)

In that case, you would have a kind of 'fuel station' in space. Mind you, that fuel station will be moving at high speed, most of the time FAR away from earth, and most likely far away from any trajectory NASA and the likes would plan for their satellites. Seems they do have a kind of logistics problem.

Re:Space mining ROI - fuel (4, Funny)

ae1294 (1547521) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881109)

It's space so there is no vapor...

Re:Space mining ROI - fuel (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881215)

Took me a second to get it, but that right there is funny!

Re:Space mining ROI - fuel (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881155)

Step 1 in making this profitable would be building a space elevator. Step 2 is relatively easy.

Re:Space mining ROI - fuel (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881415)

The value quoted in the article is based upon the assumption that you'd be using the materials in space due to the expensive price of launching stuff so bringing it back down to earth isn't a factor. It could potentially be a game changer if they can work out how to construct satellites in space as well as other things.

Re:Space mining ROI - fuel (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881447)

I haven't looked into Deep Space Industries all that much or what their business plan is,

Mostly they've come out with hype.

Mostly.

NASA said.. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42880911)

"The impact of a 50-meter asteroid is not cataclysmic--unless you happen to be underneath it, NASA said."

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this statement.

Hypothetic worth (2)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42880913)

Wouldn't material influx on that level affect the market and depress the cost?
For example, an asteroid made of gold would be worth a lot of money, but the price of gold may fall worldwide if we do catch one.

Re:Hypothetic worth (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881125)

Wouldn't material influx on that level affect the market and depress the cost?
  For example, an asteroid made of gold would be worth a lot of money, but the price of gold may fall worldwide if we do catch one.

Thats where the gold cartels come in. And very expensive hit men to take out prospective 'entrepreneurs' before they even try to catch one.

Re:Hypothetic worth (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881163)

No, because it wouldn't be in the regular market. The space mining plans seem to involve collecting, refining and leave the materials in space to be used to build other things. The materials wouldn't be competing with the like materials in the open market, it would be competing with taking like materials into space.

Pay off national debts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42880937)

Maybe they could just direct a few in the general direction of the creditors and pay off national debt.

Cute, but... (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881463)

70% of US debt is owned by American investors and the SS trust fund. So you'd be "delivering" it to your own cities.

Re: Cute, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881685)

Perfect

Lot of speculation (1)

Coisiche (2000870) | about a year and a half ago | (#42880953)

The article is big on using "if", "might be", "could range". So that $195B will represent the most wishful of optimistic estimates. We need to get the technology for better assessment of the composition of asteroids when they're still a distance away before trying to figure out how to harvest them when they're nearby.

Re:Lot of speculation (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881107)

We need to get the technology for better assessment of the composition of asteroids when they're still a distance away before trying to figure out how to harvest them when they're nearby.

Which seems to be the two first points on DSI's agenda: Build small space-based telescopes to scout for interesting asteroids, and build slightly larger retrieving vehicles to bring back samples from the most interesting ones.

Meh (3, Funny)

srussia (884021) | about a year and a half ago | (#42880997)

Just mint a $195B coin!

value = thing + time and place (5, Interesting)

epine (68316) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881011)

The Greenland ice sheet would be worth nearly as much if we could snare it, tow it, and deliver it to the Middle East in pristine condition, held with minimal expense for the long term, and without leaving an ocean sized dent among when it's finally depleted by the immodest swimming pools of Saudi Arabia.

Half the shit rotting in your basement could become liquid gold if you had a time machine and a forwarding address to eBay future. Only problem is that they will return payment in a priceless commodity you haven't got the first clue how to use. If you're clever, you might be able to wangle out of them all the remaining Bitcoin blocks.

"Primordial human, what do you want that for? Are you an archaeologist, or what? Well, you'll just have to time your deliveries more precisely. The grand curator's office hours are October–November, Monday and Tuesday, 13:00 to 14:00, no exceptions."

The real reason a supermodel isn't going to sleep with you is not because you're boring and ugly and proud of your Costco luxury goods—it's because you're living the wrong life, with the wrong crowd, on the wrong spiral arm of the social graph.

It's there, you're here, and never the twain shall meet.

tl;dr (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881481)

"HULK.... sad."

An easier target... (2)

ixarux (1652631) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881043)

The moon is probably valuated many zillion dollars, give the tidal effects and romance industry that it fuels. Who's up to catching it?

Re:An easier target... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881161)

It's already captive, but slowly drifting away. (about a centimetre a year)

Re:An easier target... (1)

cffrost (885375) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881223)

The moon is probably valuated many zillion dollars, give the tidal effects and romance industry that it fuels. Who's up to catching it?

I saw this on The Straight Dope recently: What's the moon worth? [straightdope.com]

Cecil Adams also estimated its "theoretical value" at "countless zillions," but currently "not worth jack."

What about the extra mass effecting our orbit? (0)

detain (687995) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881083)

Building the giant damn in china effected earths rotation slightly, how would taking on all this extra mass effect us? Maybe not with just 1 meteor but if we do this several times there could be serious unforseen effects on our planet such as climate changes, changes in our orbit around the sun, etc..

Re:What about the extra mass effecting our orbit? (2)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881493)

You're right, and not at all stupid to bring this up.

$195B in space... $1,950.00 on the ground! (2)

pepsikid (2226416) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881087)

I suspect that if this asteroid were to land gently in a valley somewhere, and we were to exploit all of it's resources conventionally, we'd find considerably less mineral wealth. The $195B figure is probably about saving the cost of launching comparable amounts of metals and water, minus the cost of developing infrastructure to mine in space. Mining in space is going to be about building in space, folks. The only thing we'll be sending back home is beams of space-generated power and research data. We'll spend the next million years filling the solar system with miles-long solar heat-sintered concrete cylinders to live in. There will be far more humans in space than on Earth, and we'll rarely mingle in person. Maybe someday we'll have the skill and energy to visit other stars (we quasi-already have the technology), but it won't be to bring back dilithium crystals and chests of gold-pressed latinum.

Re:$195B in space... $1,950.00 on the ground! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881439)

There will be far more humans in space than on Earth, and we'll rarely mingle in person.

That is an incontrovertible truth. Also, as a corollary, IPv6 adoption *still* won't be prevalent by then, and those space-faring, asteroid catching descendants of ours will be hatching hare-brained ideas about capturing unused IPv4 blocks whizzing past in commercial network space. I bet a small block of IPv4 "could be" worth eleventy billion space dollars by then... if only it could be captured and mined.

And the Earth will slow down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881095)

Adding that extra mass will also lengthen our days though, as if they aren't long enough.

$195B? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881121)

how much on ISK [slashdot.org] ?

Re:$195B? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881543)

Work it out yourself.... ISK converter [thealphacompany.net]

(Unless you mean Iceland Krona/Crowns. About Kr25T.)

I misunderstood (4, Funny)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881123)

I thought they meant that's how much we could save if we dropped it on North Korea

Re:I misunderstood (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881569)

It's actually one of the bigger issues: how to prevent people from turning this into a weapon?

Re:I misunderstood (1)

drkim (1559875) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881677)

It's actually one of the bigger issues: how to prevent people from turning this into a weapon?

Easy. Give it to a big defense contractor to develop into a weapon.

Then it will never happen.

Not as good as it seems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881177)

Yes, but taxes would eat that up

Re:Not as good as it seems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881615)

Write to your Congressman and demand he support the "Zero G Zero Tax" Act to encourage US space development.

Will be more chances (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881189)

Won't be the last time it passes close, and anyway maybe could be easier to capture another asteroid. Not sure about cost, is not like is feasible to put in orbit that amount of minerals taking them from here.

In the other hand, if this or another captured asteroid is "catched" by the right city in the right place, then it could worth more than $195B... in damages.

Great trojan house for aliens (2)

BlueCoder (223005) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881209)

The idea just struck me. If aliens didn't possess cloaking technology.. An asteroid such as this would make great cover to closely observe a species advanced enough to detect planets around other stars. You could even deploy small probes the size of a softball to fall to earth or into orbit.

NASA's next project will be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881229)

... a giant catcher's mitt.

Seems a bit optimistic (1)

ObjectT (719684) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881361)

The asteroid would be worth more than $1,000 per kilogram. That seems a bit optimistic to me considering that most of its matter will likely be dust and ice.

Re:Seems a bit optimistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881507)

The asteroid would be worth more than $1,000 per kilogram. That seems a bit optimistic to me considering that most of its matter will likely be dust and ice.

ice = propellant
dust = building materials & shielding

Catch me if You Can (1)

foobsr (693224) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881485)

Could not resist, sorry.

CC.

Run, run, as fast as you can... (1)

folderol (1965326) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881519)

You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man :)

All EVE players know how this goes (2)

realxmp (518717) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881623)

You go to all the trouble of catching the asteroid, mining it and it turns out to be Veldspar... Either that or some Goons turn up and steal it from your hauler when you try and take it home.

Capturing the energy too ... (1)

slimdave (710334) | about a year and a half ago | (#42881639)

A 190,000 tonne object at 12.7km/s has an energy of 15*10^15Joules, or 4,256,263,888kwH, equivalent to 106 million barrels of oil worth USD10.3 billion.

Harvesting that ought to be about the same level of difficulty as extracting the mineral wealth, I'd say

Just ask Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42881719)

I'm sure Congress would give you a $500B grant to undertake such an endeavor.

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