Our objectives roadmap
For the running of an effective off-world economy there will need to be lots of different technologies forming an infrastructure. But there is no infrastructure and actual asteroid mining hasn't been done by either state owned space agencies or by commercial companies, so it will have to be created from start to finish.
We will start with small experiments that can be accomplished with current understanding and manufacturing processes and move on to more asteroid breaking achievements as we gain experience.
Our Short Term Objectives
The Asteroid Mining Corporation will need to conduct robotic operations in space so we will develop and have launched a small satellite so we can gain experience with the communication and operation of a spacecraft. The "ASP1" will be a 6U spectroscope space telescope, a first for the UK and a test-bed for some of our technologies that will later be scaled up in our mining missions.
The craft will gather spectragraphic data on target asteroids that we will make available commercially.
Metal printing in Space
We want to develop is an additive manufacturing system for printing metals in space. We need to find out what material and structural properties metals will have if manufactured in the vacuum and micro-gravity conditions of space. With this accomplishment we will gain a hands on understanding of the properties and then be able to design structural and component elements for orbital installations.
Yes 3D printing has been done in orbit on the International Space Station but not using metals and not in a vacuum.
Asteroid Material Mining And Return Probe
After we are confident that we could conduct robotic operations in space we will then turn our attention to the asteroids themselves.
We will build a probe that is capable of intercepting an asteroid, then successfully attach to it then excavate a volume of material that would fill its storage.
We will select a target asteroid based on factors such as how close and how similar it's orbit angle is to Earth's, what kind of spin it has and what type of asteroid it is.
The probe will take images of the surface and study it's mineral composition using various sensors and build up a map of the asteroid. We will not be looking for the best landing place for materials but for a secure and effective place to mine.
Our Long Term Objectives
Industrial scale asteroid mining craft and freight
The Asteroid Mining Company is going to produce different mining craft dependant on how big the target asteroid is. For objects up to 25 meters in diameter a mining craft will be utilised that will capture the asteroid in it's entirety in a large bag and extract it's material in place.
With Asteroids over 25 meters in diameter, this class of miner will dock and attach to the surface and extract material in place. This miner will be able to detach, move to a new location then reattach to the surface. This method could be used to strip mine and reach resources initially beyond it's extraction depth!
With these miners the amount of material and water being extracted will be measured in Cubic Meters! None of our miner designs require the asteroid to be transferred to an orbit of the Earth or the Moon.
Orbital fuel, storage, manufacture and processing facility.
This will be a station constructed like the International Space Station but for commercial purposes and be a port for the storage and processing of resources and a waypoint for missions going elsewhere. The Asteroid Mining Corporation won't be the only contributor to this station as other companies will base operations there. The station will play host to spacecraft used for moving resources around the system and refuelling. Manned visits, the storage of water, processing of fuel and other resources will occur together with various projects under construction. We will test our in orbit 3D printing and other microgravity manufacturing technology here.
This will be a mega project The Asteroid Mining Corporation will undertake, the construction of a space habitat with gravity.
We will use all the machinery and technology we will have created up to this point to build a Stanford Torus type rotating habitat. A starting station will be deployed with manufacturing, human habitation, asteroid material processing and storage, designated as the hub. From the starting hub, large reach and capacity 3D print arms will first extrude two spokes of the habitat, then will extrude the Torus hull itself. The Print arms will create it's own transport rails as it goes and will use them to go back and forth to the hub reloading it's print feedstock. This Torus will have a diameter of 1Kilometer, a tube diameter of 12 Meters with up-to 4 floors. When the Torus is ready it will be spun up to create the gravity effect of centrifugal force and because of the 1Km size, the Coriolis effect will not be that pronounced.