The Philosophy of Space and time by micromike

Ámike's cosmology

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The Asteroid Capture Project


This document represents my challenge to mankind to begin the asteroid capture project. I would propose a thirty year project to map, study, control and retrieve a large asteroid into lunar orbit or high Earth orbit to be used as a source of materials as well as a platform of space travel and human use. This project would be beneficial to mankind for many reasons. First, to insure our own continued existence, we need to control our solar system so that "accidents" do not happen when it comes to impacts into our planet by stray asteroids. Second, the amount of metals in a large nickel-iron asteroid would be very large. These metals represent a lot of value and this project could be undertaken as a commercial project to mine these minerals from the asteroid once it is captured. Third, this project could be used to encourage all human beings to work together for a common cause. And fourth, the project would eventually end in another place that mankind could visit, thus stimulating the birth and growth of commercial travel in space.

Once in orbit, the asteroid could be mined from the inside out, creating valuable metals that would not have to be lifted from Earth. Then the space created by the mining could be modified to allow human habitation. Thus we could soon have a motel in space, a city in space, a retirement center in space, an amusement park in space, and anything else we could think of that would exploit the resources of the asteroid.

This project would involve great risk, but mankind could control all aspects of the success and surely our best people could bring this project to completion without harming the planet Earth. One of the most important lessons in life is when life hands you a lemon, make lemonade. We live in a solar system that is full of asteroids, each of which is on a different orbit and each of which could, at some point in the future, crash into Earth and thus destroy much of the life that exists on the planet.

Mankind has risen to a position of awareness of the world around us and thus must assume the responsibility to control our solar system in an effort to preserve the life that now exists. The dinosaurs had no choice in the matter when a wayward asteroid crashed into the Earth and caused the extinction of most of the life on the planet. Mankind now has the awareness and the ability to assure that this does not happen again. It would be the height of irresponsibility of mankind to NOT solve this problem.  If mankind allows itself to be  exterminated by a wayward asteroid, then we wouldn't be any smarter than the dinosaurs, now would we?

The overall plan would start with a mapping of all objects in the solar system that are large enough to "hurt" our planet if they were to come under the gravitational influence of our planet and crash into the Earth at some point in the future. The mapping project would then be supplemented by actual visits by spacecraft to a number of asteroids in an effort to learn their composition and structure.

As far as the technique used to capture asteroids, I would propose that we first develop and then manufacture and launch a series of robot spacecraft that would be used to move these large rocks in space. NASA would probably develop the initial design and then businesses around the world could reproduce the design and send them to the chosen asteroid. Each company would be paid a percentage of the rewards based on the percentage of useful robot craft that participated in the recovery effort. Each craft would be fully self-contained and capable of working with a number of other units as a single whole. Each craft would have enough computing power to do the entire project and would have the ability to communicate with every other craft involved in the project. If a hundred craft would be needed to move a certain sized asteroid, then at least two hundred would be sent to allow for things to go wrong and to ensure the success of the project.

Each craft would have to have several features to make it work. Each would have to have sufficient computing power to accomplish the task with as little help from Earth as possible. Each would have to be able to attach itself to the asteroid by some mechanism. Each would have to be able to generate the necessary fuel for the movement of the rock from the asteroid itself. And each would have to provide thrust at the right time and in the right direction to change the orbit of the asteroid in a controlled manner.

One problem the robotic units would face would be in capturing enough energy to make fuel or attach itself to the asteroid. One possible solution requires us to consider the fact that many asteroids travel very close to the sun in parts of their orbit. At these times, immense amounts of energy would be available. The robots might be able to attach themselves by melting a small portion of the asteroid so that the robot could insert an anchor of some type. Also, if the fuel needed to power the robots turned out to be hydrogen, as an example, then the great energy at the time of near sun orbit could fuel the collection and storage of the hydrogen in preparation for its eventual use to move the asteroid. Remember that we would have time to practice many moves before we actually brought something close to the Earth.

Below is a crude drawing of this project. The asteroid would actually be much larger and there would be many more people and spaceships involved.



asteroid.JPG (53262 bytes)



The importance of this project is many folded. The capture of the first asteroid would be akin to mankind saying "We are taking charge of this solar system and will do our best to make sure that mankind continues to inhabit it." It is important for the countries and companies of the world to work together on common goals, since we all live on the same planet. Although the Frass Meteorite seems to indicate that life is prevalent in the cosmos, intelligent life may be very rare. The sequence of events that led to our rise to awareness seems to be extraordinarily fortunate. If this is the case then mankind may be a rare example of life becoming aware of itself and thus we would be all the more precious. We must protect ourselves and gain control of our environment to the best of our abilities.

Your friend,


P.S.  In the early 1960's, NASA tested nuclear rocket engines, some of which had the "horsepower" of Hoover Dam.  With these engines in space, mankind could travel to Mars, explore the solar system and control the asteroids.  For some reason, humanity has decided to NOT build nuclear rocket engines, but to build nuclear weapons.  It would be my goal for mankind to take all of the nuclear weapons and convert them into fuel for nuclear rocket engines.  On Earth, nuclear reactors represent a hazard.  In space the represent an opportunity.  We must seize the moment and again construct and test nuclear rocket engines.  We must also research any and all other methods of propulsion.  I believe the very life of our species depends on our ability to control the space of our solar system and this control will be directly proportional to the quality of our rocket engines.



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