Colorado School of Space Mining

Since the 1990s, the Colorado School of Mines has been a leading institution for the study of space resources and in situ resource utilization (ISRU). It has also become a destination for space scientists and engineers, government agencies, aerospace companies, entrepreneurs, the mining and minerals industry, financial and legal experts, and policy makers to discuss all topics related to space resources.

The Colorado School of Mines is planning to launch in 2018 a multi-disciplinary graduate program in Space Resources to offer a Post-Baccalaureate certificate and a Master of Science degree for college graduates and professionals interested in this emerging arena. Qualified students who want to pursue research through a Ph.D. in collaborating departments at Mines are also sought. The proposed program will focus on developing core knowledge and gaining design practices in systems for responsible exploration, extraction, and use of resources in the Solar System.

They have had a pilot class on space mining.

Paul Spudis was a guest lecturer. He showed charts and maps and data about possible resources on the moon.

The company Moon Express is planning to land there in 2018, in a bid to win the Google Lunar X Prize.

There are companies like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries who are targeting asteroid mining.

Extracting water from the moon and asteroids for use as lower cost fuel in space and for potential colonization and other projects is a main focus.

1 thought on “Colorado School of Space Mining”

  1. So… let’s see… If I model “asteroid and lunar mining” as a concept, I’m struck with quite a few stand-out items.

    (1) Heavy Earth to orbit (E2O) craft. Booster return, craft itself + payload is not returned by craft.
    (2) Personnel E2O craft. Fully reuseable.
    (3) Space stations. Plural. At planets, at Moon, in Asteroid belt.
    (4) Materials fabs. Plural. In-situ and exogenous refining. Stockpiling. Fabrication.
    (5) Interplanetary craft. Haulers. Personnel “busses”.
    (6) Power plants. Huge ones. Microwave power beaming facilities.
    (7) Lunar bootstrapping. “Moon first” as it is huge resource. Nearby. 25% Earth’s land area. Priority.
    (8) Food, air, water sustainability in space. Wow… big.
    (9) Money, transnational sharing, property rights … well right?
    (10) ‘Internet’ connected in meaningful way.

    This is without thinking too hard on the subject. Its only 5 am here. I’m tired. It is really clear that there is a huge difference between “tiny” exploratory operations such as “get man to Moon and back” and doing a serious amount of productive (and one must remember: ultimately profitable) work done.

    Seems to me that the Next Big Future Thing needs to be pushing for a permanent Lunar research facility. It is close enough to keep the overall energy budget reasonable. It is close enough that until established, Earth-sourced materials, products, fabrication, food, water, air, tools, devices, personnel and support staff can be supplied with fairly modest energy budgets.

    A significant “2001” space station should simultaneously be planned. It is a way station for all of the above. A place to transfer from MEO (mid earth orbit) cargo and bus service reuseable craft to the permanent pool of lunar and asteroidal transport craft. Its a place for really-close-to-Earth research; its a place for bivoiacing huge quantities of primary resources. A place for a giant solar power plant; a place for space-materials processing research.

    BOTH are noble, and essentially “do-able simultaneously with co-dependent synergistic advantages”. The MEOSS totally suports the Lunar surface station LSS. The LSS in turn roots around looking for rich lunar veins of “ore”. Stuff that’s particularly rich in the materials needed by the MEOSS. And the primary delivery site for all the MEOSS made or stockpiled Terran equipment. In fact, I doubt a significant Lunar facility could be economically made without the MEOSS. And vice versa.

    Think on the list, folk. Its going to require tens of millions of tons of “stuff” from Earth alone to get MEOSS and LSS even 20% built-to-spec. Operational. Fueled. Provisioned, Aired, Watered, Powered, Staffed, Robotized, Connected. Its going to take a continuous investment of hundreds to a thousand billion a year. A million+ people working worldwide on supporting the whole thing. Making stuff. Researching the Next New Stuff. Figuring out why almost everything develops near-fatal glitches “up there”.

    I am all for it frankly. I’ve a lifetime of dreaming of a bigger, broader, useful Space Future under my belt. I’ve never given up hope that a space economy can be self-sufficient, self-sustaining and entirely profitable. 1,000+ (yep) SciFi books in the last 50 years has both sanded down outrageous fictional future possibilities, and a lifetime of hard physics has likewise caused me to be hugely practical. It might seem “sour” or “cynical” or “theatrical” to some, my opining. But I’m just a Missourian “show me” kind of goat. And expect critique.

    So far tho’, all I see are highly touted, essentially minor advancements. The money – for one, and most importantly – ain’t there. As they say, “it’d take an act of Congress“. Yep. Not our Congress. No Russians to beat. The Chinese are too “nice” to have a pitched ideological battle with. The Think Tanks can bray “the sky is soon to fall!” as much as they like, yet Congress slumbers.

    On that last point rests our future.
    Drain the swamp. Get rid of the sleepwalking simulacra called “senators”.
    New ideas, BIG plans. Relentless investment.

    Its the future.
    The next BIG future.


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