Timmy elsewhere

At the ASI.

Going to the Moon to mine rare earths just isn’t a sensible idea.

8 thoughts on “Timmy elsewhere”

  1. Sure. Doesn’t make sense to mine rare earth ores & ship to earth. But you know your own elements. Moon isn’t earth. You’ve a pretty hard vacuum , low gravity & lots of high density solar. Can you extract the elements by high temp distillation in that environment? Might be a lot cheaper than what you’re doing in Czech with acids ‘n stuff.

  2. Separating rare earths might be easier up there: you could use vacuum distillation for example. But still not worth it.

    The use of the Moon to make stuff to take you further out to the asteroids makes great sense. Would (could) be cheaper than pulling stuff up out of the gravity well. But absent things like H3, not logical to drop stuff back down it.

  3. Isn’t there a problem anyway with the minerals and metals and shit not being concentrated in veins and deposits due to a lack of plate tectonics anyway? Like, it’s basically a pretty even mixture all over?

  4. You’re not actually mining the moon, ian. You’re mining regolith. The infalling junk from a few billion years. Like mining asteroids.

  5. ‘ Tim
    Aren’t you always telling us to look at everything rather than concentrate on particulars?
    Rare earth extraction mightn’t be viable for its own sake. But as a side stream of construction aluminum & cracking the regolith for oxygen etc it might be.

  6. A certain class of asteroid has precious metals and rare earths in near pure form.
    I don’t know whether asteroid miners or terrestrial miners will go bust first, but meanwhile prices will fall.

  7. In principle you are right – we are far enough from having fusion that worrying about H3 is not an issue & most other materials aren’t expensive enough. I think solar power satellites; an orders of magnitude increase in satellite communications; manufacturing of materials that can only be made in zero G; & mining millions of tons from asteroids will be the way to go.

    However
    1 – Costs to orbit are dropping and can theoretically fall to match a flight to Australia (they have the same energy costs). When that happens bets are off on the cost of anything.
    2 – Manufacturing in orbit is likely to become significant and materials costs to there include launch costs which alter the economics.

  8. @Neil
    EO does have a lot of advantages but the deltaV of a lift from lunar surface is pretty low.* And it’s looking as if long term microgravity is very unkind to humans.

    *Electomagnetic type velocity injection utilising solar power is essentially free, once the capability is paid for. Drop a buoyant resources barge in the earth ocean of your choice. Lunar concrete heat shield ablates away on the way down. .

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