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Planetary Resources To 'Claim' Asteroids With Beacons

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the i-claim-this-land-for-spain dept.

Robotics 221

kkleiner writes "Planetary Resources last year boldly claimed that they would build a futuristic business out of mining space asteroids. To that end, the firm recently completed the Arkyd-100 satellite prototype. The satellite will use its telescope to look for suitable near-Earth asteroids from low-Earth orbit. Later expeditions will rocket out to prospective real estate, do spectral analysis, and if the asteroid contains valuable resources, lay claim with a beacon."

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221 comments

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Not legally enforceable (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957839)

Not legally enforceable, which in many ways is a shame. Until money can be made through space travel, it will never "take off"...

Mod informative, flamebait or funny

International traties (4, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957875)

Not only not enforceable: I always thought that there were treaties against this, as in no private company from any country can claim anything outside the atmosphere without some sort of international agreement. See Outer Space Treaty [wikipedia.org] .

Re:International traties (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957921)

"the activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty"

Put the nail into any private exploitation loophole : if youa re american you are under the treaty under US supervision and therefore party of the treaty too.

Re:International traties (4, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958007)

So just incorporate in e.g. Lithuania, which is not party to the treaty.

Re:International traties (2)

jythie (914043) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958089)

Yeah, but then you depend on Lithuania to defend your claim.

While the US might have issues, one can claim that the federal government can be pretty aggressive in protecting its citizen's interests in the international arena. Register your claim through the US, and it is backed by the US.

"This book must be out of date" (2)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958241)

I'm pretty sure Grand Fenwick isn't a signatory either. IMO, a much more appropriate choice.

Re:"This book must be out of date" (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958591)

I'm pretty sure Grand Fenwick isn't a signatory either. IMO, a much more appropriate choice.

Ummm... Principality of Hutt River [wikipedia.org] may not have signed it either.

Re:International traties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958095)

So what is the government going to do? Send a US Marshall out to the asteroid belt to confiscate your satellite? Sure would be nice if the US had a spacecraft...

Re:International traties (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958229)

"the activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty"

Put the nail into any private exploitation loophole : if youa re american you are under the treaty under US supervision and therefore party of the treaty too.

What part of "shall require authorization and continuing supervision" prohibits private exploitation?
You need authorization and continuing supervision to drill for oil on land or at sea, yet that hasn't impeded private exploitation of the continental shelf or deep-sea drilling. This is an easy hurdle to jump. Just a few dollars in the right campaign donation bucket buys you all the authorization you need.

Re:International traties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957959)

Citing the obscenely reputable source Conan O'Brien...

He had someone on the show who sold territory on the moon. The key was that the treaty only applied to nations, not individuals. Or so he claimed. I suppose the more important fact is that no nations would acknowledge the ownership of that territory.

Briefly looking at the treaty, do asteroids count as "Celestial bodies"? I've only ever heard that term used for planets and moons.

Re:International traties (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958107)

Briefly looking at the treaty, do asteroids count as "Celestial bodies"? I've only ever heard that term used for planets and moons.

Shay-zus...

Merriam Webster must be turning over in his grave.

Re:International traties (5, Funny)

jmauro (32523) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958197)

Probably not since there wasn't a person called Merriam Webster name is from the Merriam publishing company's purchase of the Webster dictionary publishing license after the death of Daniel Webster.

A Webster, yes. Two different Merriams, yes. A Merriam Webster, no.

Re:International traties (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958323)

I thought corporations were people. Can't they roll over in their grave, too?

Re:International traties (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958387)

I thought corporations were people.

Damn, AC beat me to it!

Re:International traties (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958573)

I thought corporations were people. Can't they roll over in their grave, too?

Only if they are dead.

Re:International traties (1)

the biologist (1659443) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957989)

The treaty and such refer to states, but since in our current reality, state power is what secures private property rights... the two are somewhat linked.

Re:International traties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957991)

1) 'The treaty explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the Moon or a planet, claiming that they are the Common heritage of mankind.[2] Art. II of the Treaty states that "outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means". '

and 2) Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty deals with international responsibility, stating that "the activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty" and that States Parties shall bear international responsibility for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities.

These seem to imply that the restriction is against governments ("not subject to national appropriation") for claiming such objects, and that NGEs simply need to be authorized and supervised by those governments to comply with non-WMDization.

Further, the ultimate test is when SpaceCo has a particle weapon on "their" asteroid and threatens to blow up the next ship that tries to knock them off. Until then, OST67 is theoretical.

Re:International traties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958069)

From your own link: "the activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty"

You're confusing the Outer Space Treaty with the Moon Treaty - the former is a thing that matters, the latter is only ratified by a very small number of countries that don't have space programs.

Re:International traties (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958101)

Treaties also prohibit the invasion of another nation, the acquisition of territory by force, torture, apartheid, extrajudicial killings, colonization, and ethnic cleansing. Yet these things are routinely done by those with the political and physical power to get away with it. What reason is there to believe that the Outer Space Treaty has any teeth or will stop corporations in powerful states from owning asteroids?

Re:International traties (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958379)

Who is going to stop a competing firm from taking the claim for themselves? It will be Wild West laws aka no laws at all.

Re:International traties (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958467)

The same thing could be said of the oceans. No one owns the oceans, but they take resources from them. Of course whoever has the largest military presence effectively controls them, but not in any legal sense.

Treaties may not stop corporations from *controlling* or mining asteroids, but they can definitely stop them from owning them, since ownership is just a legal concept.

Re:International traties (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958117)

Try taking some of NASA's moon rocks and say that because of the outer space treaty they have no property right claim to them and see how long it's until you're locked up in jail. Nation states can't claim it as their territory, but it's entirely unclear how or if anyone can claim mining rights on an asteroid, or if it's a race to see who can gobble up the asteroid first. "Planting the flag" might be good enough or it might not, depending on how deep pockets you have and how many big governments you can get to play by those rules.

Re:International traties (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958371)

Okay, I'm something of a theorist of 'international law'. I'm not a lawyer or anything.

First, my theory on international politics/law: The dealings of nations is a bit like an ancient village, where different nations are 'people' of varying size and ability. There is effectively limited to no 'police', there are no courts, etc...

As such, 'international law' depends on the threat or actual use of force. Any given country is free to do what it wants to until other countries can be motivated to do something about it.

In this case; in order to have any real effect, said beacon has to be recognized by countries willing to press the issue - whether in space or on the ground.

In general, it's a lot more likely if parties in multiple countries have interests in various asteroids for exploitation - IE it's worth money, and spread out enough for a coalition to form. You'd probably see some sort of time and scope limit on the beacon claims - just because the USA put some flags on the moon doesn't mean we own the whole thing. If anything, a flag might only be good for, say, a 5 km radius, or a latitude/longitude section that the flag is in of a pre-specified size(basically, divide the planet up into lots and lots of squares; plant a flag or probe in a square to claim it). If you undertake no further activity, said claim from flag-planting expires after X years, which I'd peg at 20-40 years. If you undertake further activity, the claim becomes permanent unless you abandon said site, which would become open to claim again after 20-40 years from your last activity.

Basically, a bit like the old homestead days.

Re:International traties (1)

dimeglio (456244) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958167)

I think it's simply a case of whomever has the bigger gun gets to keep the asteroid/planet/solar system. It's back to the wild-wild west era. Unless we establish a planetary government to establish and enforce legitimate claims.

Re:International traties (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958239)

They can just smash it into the earth and claim it there. Problem solved.

Re:International traties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958585)

pfft. A Treaty made back when the world was sane clearly has no merit. We are so much smarter than those fools now.....

Re:Not legally enforceable (1)

tgd (2822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958209)

Not legally enforceable, which in many ways is a shame. Until money can be made through space travel, it will never "take off"...

Mod informative, flamebait or funny

Of course, they could just drop the asteroid on the party complaining ... kill two birds with one stone... literally.

Re:Not legally enforceable (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958557)

The Portuguese tried that [wikipedia.org] in the Age of Discovery. Fat load of good [wikipedia.org] it did.

Re:Not legally enforceable (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958607)

Not legally no, but who cares? At this point their "claim" would easily be enforced by the same gravity well that has stopped everyone else from doing it yet. While its true, if someone else jumped their claim, nobody would likely care to enforce it and step in.... but.... as of right now.... making a symbolic claim is easily every bit as good, if not better, than having it enforced, simply because its harder to actually jump the claim than it is to ignore terrestrial powers..... so legal enforcibility is an entirely moot point.

A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

Deekin_Scalesinger (755062) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957859)

Unless they have Space Police out there. Who knows how this would turn out, but it does raise another issue - when we finally get off of our collective asses and start a more aggressive space program(s), who the heck is gonna regulate commodities, etc out in space?

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (0)

logjon (1411219) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957891)

who the heck is gonna regulate commodities, etc out in space?

Same people who do it on Earth. Just because you choose space as the place to do something shitty doesn't mean you won't have to answer for it here.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958003)

Just because you choose space as the place to do something shitty doesn't mean you won't have to answer for it here.

Mighty big talk from someone sitting at the bottom of a gravity well.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958195)

Just because you choose space as the place to do something shitty doesn't mean you won't have to answer for it here.

Mighty big talk from someone sitting at the bottom of a gravity well.

well, yeah, sure it's possible for them to stay up there.
then they would also need their private army to enforce their "moral" claim rights.

and if they had a private space army - wtf do they need claims signs for?

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958327)

To avoid needing to use said private space marine army.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958111)

Same people who do it on Earth. Just because you choose space as the place to do something shitty doesn't mean you won't have to answer for it here.

Wait, since when do they answer for it here?

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957935)

"... who the heck is gonna regulate commodities, etc out in space?"

Smith & Wesson?

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

jythie (914043) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958025)

There is a good possibility of that. Property rights stem from states willing to enforce them. Take away the established state and everyone becomes a mini-state.. so your claim is only as good as your ability to stop other people from claiming it.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958087)

Will a Smith & Wesson even fire in the vacuum and near absolute zero temperatures of space?

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (4, Informative)

Joehonkie (665142) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958113)

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958547)

That's disappointing after watching the Firefly episode where they have to put their gun in a spacesuit to fire it.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958137)

Will a Smith & Wesson even fire in the vacuum and near absolute zero temperatures of space?

It's only near absolute zero in the shade.

As to vacuum, yes, the propellent in a bullet is self-contained, and will work nicely in a vacuum.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (2)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958181)

Yes. Better than on earth, in fact. The gunpowder already contains the oxidizer and there isn't any atmosphere that the bullet has to push out of the way. Muzzle velocities will be higher.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

Joehonkie (665142) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958193)

Yes, but the gun will get pretty hot with nowhere to radiate all that heat.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

amorsen (7485) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958305)

Actually it has pretty much everywhere to radiate the heat. It is the non-radiative heat transfer which is missing in space.

Since we are talking Western-style revolvers, I would guess that it is unlikely that they will fire enough bullets to make heat a significant problem. How quickly can you reload in space?

Admittedly I have never fired a handgun or travelled in space.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958325)

one shot would not be a problem and thats all it takes to puncture a pressurized spacesuit and kill the opponent. hell in space with no gravity or friction even if the bullet does not puncture it will still send you flying away at high velocity

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958593)

aiming is easier too, since all trajectories become much nearer to perfectly flat in space. the only factor that's different is the angle of elevation at the moment of firing (the reason many bullet trajectories on earth dont start at 0deg but actually upward somewhat...the line of force from the recoild isnt directly through the CG but somewhat above it). once you adjust for that, the effective/accurate range of the weapon is much higher than on the surface.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

compro01 (777531) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958367)

Probably. Salyut 3 had an autocannon on it and it reportedly fired just fine.

You'd need to make sure you're securely attached to something though, lest the recoil send you drifting.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958601)

Probably. Salyut 3 had an autocannon on it and it reportedly fired just fine.

You'd need to make sure you're securely attached to something though, lest the recoil send you drifting.

Damn Minmatar. Shoot them with the Space Laser!

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (4, Interesting)

Tuidjy (321055) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958583)

The first shot will be even better than the one you'd get on Earth. The power already contains the oxidants the combustion needs, and there will be no air resistance.

The rest of the shot are trickier. If the gun is an automatic, and has not been modified, you may need to chamber the rounds manually, because the lack of air resistance may mess up the automatic action.

If the gun is a revolver, you will be able to fire all chambers as usual, but the gun will be only cooling by radiating heat AND through the contact with your gloves. That may become uncomfortable rather quickly.

And of course, you may have problems with recoil. Unless you have anchored yourself rather well, you will start moving in very complex way, especially if you do not fire the bullet along a line passing through your center of mass and the end of the barrel.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957997)

who regulated stuff when the US was first being settled and exploited? in theory, the US government. in practice, it was fend for yourself. the real irony comes when earth-based governments get involved, especially if it involves more than one. there will wars on earth over rocks in space. ah, the calamity of humanity.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958031)

I always kinda figured it would be like old wild west, where the biggest gun gets you as far as the best of laws.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958119)

I always kinda figured it would be like old wild west, where the biggest gun gets you as far as the best of laws.

Wild West, hell, that's an accurate description of how global politics work now.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958051)

Declare space outside geostationary orbit a zone where private parties are not subject to international law, and let them fight it out. The only way mining will ever turn a profit is if it's automated so there will be no casualties, and it should be fun to watch.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958401)

And then, once the winning corporation's mining fleet has wiped out the competition thanks to its new and advanced AI, it realizes that the greatest abundance of minable materials is on that blue rock! And the only obstacle left is that dang nuisance called "organic life"...

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958085)

who the heck is gonna regulate commodities, etc out in space?

Say hello to my little friend! (aka Mr. Railgun).

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958227)

Resources are so extensive once you go beyond the earth I really wonder if this will be a problem at all. Fighting over resources is only valid when their is a finite amount of them.

Re:A bit hard to enforce.... (1)

a-zarkon! (1030790) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958459)

Really? I think the defining characteristic of space is the mind boggling emptiness of it all. Resources are not abundant, as there is a whole lot of nothing between us and anything else.

If outer space really is the land of milk and honey, we'd be mining already. The reason we don't is because it is more expensive to do it "out there" than it is to do it "down here."

Manifest Destiny/ (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957873)

Manifest Destiny... iiiiinnnnn spaaaaaaaaaace!

Re:Manifest Destiny/ (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957909)

Luckily, this time there aren't any natives to genocide.

Re:Manifest Destiny/ (2)

JustOK (667959) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957919)

got proof of that?

Re:Manifest Destiny/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957933)

Luckily, this time there aren't any natives to genocide.

But if there are... I don't think that will stop us from trying.

Re:Manifest Destiny/ (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958005)

You're really a "doomed to repeat it" kinda person, aren't you?

Re:Manifest Destiny/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958063)

Have you ever tried it... on WEED?

Too cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957883)

Perhaps more sensible would be show your ability by building an actual mine, etc. Otherwise, "laser trolls" would disrupt the business of decent, able miners.
 

Mandate Black Boxes (3, Funny)

Luthair (847766) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957899)

So I know whose asteroid crashed into my house.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42957923)

So Awesome.

International Asteroid Registry (2)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957929)

This Valentine's day, give your mistress the gift that's out of this world. Claim an asteroid for her...

Re:International Asteroid Registry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958267)

This Valentine's day, give your mistress the gift that's out of this world. Claim an asteroid for her...

You mean your wife -- for a romantic gift?

The mistress will want something more concrete like jewelry.

Back it up (1)

devnullkac (223246) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957961)

Absent international treaty or a national law (assuming their competition can be assailed in the court system), anyone with a plan like this will be forced to defend their claims the old fashioned way: by force. Will the beacons have probe-disabling lasers on board? The article doesn't say. But my guess is that the cost of getting a defense system on the rock is the same as the cost of getting mining equipment on it.

A better defense plan is to scan 10 times as many rocks as you normally would and leave beacons on all of them. Then develop either stealthy or very fast mining tech for phase 2.

Re:Back it up (1)

Scutter (18425) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958041)

You won't need space defense for your asteroid claims. If this process is held up by international treaty, you can simply control it that way. Space travel (at least at this time) isn't Firefly. You don't just hop in a grungy cargo ship and go where ever you want. It will be trivially easy for anyone who cares to track a mining ship launch to its destination asteroid. Smuggling space ore will be virtually impossible. When the poached ore is returned to Earth, the people who mined it are held accountable by whatever legal methods are agreed upon by world governments, or not held accountable at all if space is deemed a "free for all".

Re:Back it up (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958189)

It will be trivially easy for anyone who cares to track a mining ship launch to its destination asteroid. Smuggling space ore will be virtually impossible.

I don't know, I've heard from a guy in Chelyabinsk that he can smuggle in significant amounts of asteroid ore right under the authorities' noses.

Re:Back it up (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958291)

As I read the Outer Space Treaty [state.gov] , they would have no legal recourse to usurpers, as long as they weren't actually using the asteroid. The reason is that countries cannot claim property in outer space (Article II), therefore claims recognized by one country need have no weight in another. Now, it is a no-no to interfere with the work of astronauts (Article IX), but this is worded in a very weak and ambiguous fashion, which I think is sure to lead to troubles in the future. Since countries are responsible for what their nationals do in space (Articles VI-VIII), what would really happen is, if country X interfered with your mining claim, you would have to depend on what your country was willing to do about it.

Re:Back it up (1)

medcalf (68293) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958097)

The beacons are at best publicity. To own something, either others need to recognize your ownership and leave it alone, or some larger power (like governments on Earth with property physically located in their territory) needs to recognize your ownership and defend it, or you need to defend it. In the hypothetical case where I have the resources and will to do it, and I come across an asteroid I want to mine that has one of their beacons on it, I'd just take the beacon, too. At the very least, the power source would be useful for something.

Why not mine what we already have? (2)

mknewman (557587) | about a year and a half ago | (#42957981)

Why bother mining asteroids when there is a bunch of pre-refined materials floating in LEO. Re-refine the materials in Proton boosters, non-functional satellites and such. Stop throwing used up stuff back into the atmosphere to burn up. Build a refinery at the Space Station.

Re:Why not mine what we already have? (4, Insightful)

medcalf (68293) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958057)

Two reasons. The first is that the volume of materials in orbit is really, really tiny. The second is that each of these different types of space junk would require (potentially) different processing techniques, equipment and so forth. Even discounting property issues, those simply make the idea financially insane. So I expect some national government somewhere will certainly try it at some point.

Re:Why not mine what we already have? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958609)

The second is that each of these different types of space junk would require (potentially) different processing techniques,

I've actually looked at some of this.

Property issues: Go by litter rules - they abandoned the materials in space; they're cluttering up the orbitals and thus you're just cleaning up and recycling the trash
Volume: It's tiny in proportion to even a smaller asteroid, yes, but they're already refined materials. That helps. Plus the whole 'clean up the orbitals' thing. You don't actually need that much material to help the ISS or it's replacement on quite a bit.
Different processing techniques: Initially I'd figure on the recycling to be fairly primitive - perhaps mostly a solar fuser and some automated tools to shape the collected material into more shielding. While lead is pretty good for the thickness needed to provide protection and water is good for other reasons, pretty much anything works to provide some shielding. A lot of radiation shielding is simply a question of mass.

In general, my policy short of humans would be 'what goes up doesn't come down'. When stuff in orbit is more costly than it's weight in gold, even some crazy recycling is worth it. Work on getting a green module* up and running to satisfy at least some of the ongoing oxygen and food demands. Etc...

As the station grows, so wouldn't the justification for more elaborate recycling.

*I don't care whether it's potted, hydroponic, aeroponic, or even just algae in a tank.

Re:Why not mine what we already have? (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958065)

That would actually make a lot of sense except for the international ownership issues. It would only work if we all got along and shared our resources... ... ... onto the space asteroids!

Re:Why not mine what we already have? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958093)

Because asteroids have on the order of QUADRILLIONS of dollars in raw materials.

Re:Why not mine what we already have? (1)

mknewman (557587) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958143)

I would think any asteroid with that much valuable material would require a huge refining effort. We are talking many times the size of anything ever launched. Even assuming you do a progressive approach where small refineries build larger ones you are talking centuries before much could come out of this kind of effort. I would think grabbing an asteroid into orbit and tunneling into it to build a radiation resistant habitat would be more feasable. You could use the tunneled material as propulsion mass to get it into L2 or a good orbit.

Re:Why not mine what we already have? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958261)

They are not planning to do anything with it. It is simply a land grab. At this point of technological progress, mining is not possible but if it will be in the future they will be in the real estate business.

Re:Why not mine what we already have? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958159)

Why bother mining asteroids when there is a bunch of pre-refined materials floating in LEO. Re-refine the materials in Proton boosters, non-functional satellites and such. Stop throwing used up stuff back into the atmosphere to burn up. Build a refinery at the Space Station.

Oh, this.

What I can't fathom is how governments and private industry can't seem to get their heads around an idea that sci-fi book and game writers have been expounding for decades.

Re:Why not mine what we already have? (1)

mknewman (557587) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958249)

+1 exactly.

Real soon now .. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958135)

China and Japan will lay claim to the same asteroid.

whoops,read that wrong... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958161)

Space Bacons? [nocookie.net]

I bet in teh futuar, bacon will be a highly sought after luxury in space.
Just imagine the immense wealth for the daring astro-prospector that finds a whole asteroid of bacon.
Bets on what comes first, the maternity station (confinement asteroid for you belters...) or the bacon astro-farm?

(just as long as it's not this type [kowabunga.org] ...)

Prospecting tool? (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958163)

I am not sure how this fits in the Outer Space Treaty, and thus what recourse they would have if (say) the Chinese used their beacons as a prospecting tool.

On the other hand, such beacons would probably make good VLBI targets.

Beacons are unnecessary. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958165)

All they need to do is lick each one. Any four-year-old knows that.

Can't they space coordinates Logged somewhere? (1)

BetaDays (2355424) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958175)

Can't they just lay claim like the Bering Sea Gold Miners (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2182427/) do? They use GPS coordinates to plot an area where the claim is. Or is it the meteors move from sector to sector so that is not possible? Also in other mining places like California you can make the claim but you also have to prove that you are doing something with it.

Re:Can't they space coordinates Logged somewhere? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958215)

sure.

nobody is going to respect that registry though. anymore than these beacons.

Been done before (2)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958213)

People have been camping things in MMOs for years.

Niven or Cherryh? (1)

chthon (580889) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958243)

The Belt or ASTEX ?

Will this be like patent trolling? (3, Interesting)

thelovebus (264467) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958245)

On the one hand, mineral claims have a long history and seem to have worked decently.

On the other hand, how do we prevent an unscrupulous company from doing just enough work to *claim* these asteroids, with no intention of actually following through and mining them. Then, acting as a rent-seeker when another company actually does try to mine the resources?

The high frontier (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958297)

If you are into this kind of stuff you might find The High Frontier [wikipedia.org] a good read. It's a very positive, forward thinking book by Gerard K. O'Neill wich was written "when people looked up to the sky instead down on their iPhones" (as I read somewhere on the internet).

mod 0P (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958319)

THAT SHOULD BE

Hey Thanks ! (1)

Punko (784684) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958329)

Thanks for marking all the valuable 'roids for our firm.

We'll let you know what we found. Maybe you'll get a finders fee, who knows ?

Exclusive claims should never be allowed (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958383)

But that shouldn't stop anybody from mining the material anyway. You can own what you extract. You just shouldn't be allowed to "own" the raw materials.

Re:Exclusive claims should never be allowed (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958481)

It's well known in any frontier location that you own only as much as you can successfully defend against other prospectors. That beacon is only useful if it can successfully repel an antagonistic party.

That may work against them (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958421)

Now, they have told the CHinese were to go dig. And dig they will. At the very least, they will scan these and know what the company is interested in.

Lame (4, Insightful)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958457)

Look, I don't care if you plant a flag or a beacon on some asteroid, if I can actually build a spaceship that can go and grab it and mine it before you do, your shit out of luck. I'll just kick your little beacon off, or move it to something else that has no value. What are you going to do about it?

Eddie Izzard reference (2)

PhxBlue (562201) | about a year and a half ago | (#42958463)

Do they have a flag?

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42958561)

I guess I missed the part where mining on earth become more expensive than in FUCKING OUTER SPACE

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