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12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator

Posted by: charlesfradley - Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:54 pm
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12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator 

Should the lunar elevator be our top priority in space development ?
Yes 17%  17%  [ 1 ]
No 33%  33%  [ 2 ]
Unsure 50%  50%  [ 3 ]
Total votes : 6

12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator 
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Post 12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator   Posted on: Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:54 pm
12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator

Oregon L5 Society and PNW AIAA Joint Event

Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator

By Charles F. Radley

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 | 6:00 pm to 7.45 pm (Pacific USA)

Midland Library , 805 SE 122nd Ave, Portland, Oregon 97233 USA


** This event will be streamed online as a Google hangout at this web link:

https://plus.google.com/events/c7g5u2ngrlq1qpnhl8lbmt720ho


The Earth's Moon is a treasure trove of mineral resources, such as precious metals, rare earth elements, Helium-3 and Oxygen for propellants. However, the cost of soft landing on the Moon is currently very high. Using modern fibers we can build a lunar elevator which reduces the cost of lunar landing sixfold. Furthermore, it makes the cost of collecting material from the Moon and sending it to Earth essentially free. The cost of lunar sample return is reduced by about one thousand times versus chemical rockets. For soft landing payloads, the LSE pays for itself in 20 payload cycles; for sample return it can pay for itself in as little as a single payload cycle, depending on the sample site.

The lunar elevator concept is a long tether which is loaded under tension by terrestrial and lunar gravity. One end is anchored on the Moon and the other end free, hanging towards Earth. The orbital center of mass of the system is located at an Earth-Moon Lagrange location, either L1 or L2, approximately 50,000 kilometres from the lunar surface. Such a tether can now be built inexpensively from commercially available materials, e.g. Zylon, Dyneema, M5.

The near-side L1 tether is attached to the lunar equator at Sinus Medii.

For a one time capital cost of US$800Million [2012], a lunar elevator can be built today using existing available materials. This first generation lunar elevator will softly deliver an infinite number of payloads to the lunar surface, each weighing 100 kg, and retrieve the same amount of material from the lunar surface. The alternative of using chemical rockets to soft land on the Moon [or return material] is prohibitively expensive.

The first generation lunar elevator kit weighs 11,000 kg and can be delivered today to the Lunar L1 lagrange libration location, using a single Delta-IV (or Ariane-V) launch. From there the tether is unreeled upwards and downwards. The lower end anchors itself into the lunar soil using robotic penetrators.

The first market will probably be Helium-3 which currently sells on the terrestrial market for one million dollars per ounce. There is a critical shortage of Helium-3 which is in great demand for various industrial applications. Terrestrial supplies of Helium-3 will be exhausted by 2030. Helium-3 is abundant on the lunar surface.

The lunar elevator can also transport oxygen from the Moon to Low Earth Orbit where it can refuel tugs to take satellites from LEO to GEO, a significant revenue source. This reduces the cost of launches to GEO by a factor of Eight times.

The lunar elevator represents a game changing technology which will open up the Moon to commercial mining and long term human exploration.


Charles Radley is President of the Oregon L5 Society, and an Associate Fellow of the AIAA. He has worked extensively in the space industry since 1981 as a product assurance and systems engineer. He is an adviser to Liftport Group.

** This event will be streamed online as a Google hangout at this web link:

https://plus.google.com/events/c7g5u2ng ... 8lbmt720ho

Background:

A very nice lunar elevator study report from Israel. Student Project at The Technion, Israel, 2008. A full year under the supervision of Dr Alexander Kogan, now retired to Canada. The team is now disbanded, some work at the Israeli Aerospace Industries.

Conclusions
• Cargo delivery from the Moon to the Earth can
be done within 6 days using solar power and no
propellant.
• The cargo system uses a cable car moving
along a stretched ribbon.
• The ribbon is kept stretched by terrestrial and
lunar gravity. One end is anchored on the Moon
and the other one free.
• The cargo released from the cable car performs
a passive flight to the Earth. At landing, no
parachute is needed.

Here is the link to the details:

http://lunarjacobsladder.webs.com/Jacob ... 202010.pdf

more details here too ... http://asri.technion.ac.il/jacobs-ladder/

JACOB’S LADDER | Asher Space Research Institute

Year 2008 “Jacob’s Ladder” Lunar Elevator Student Team: Ran Qedar, Natan Grinfeld, Georgy Bezrodny, Ortal Reuven, Alex Tatievsky Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology Supervisor: Dr. Alex Kogan, Asher Space Research Institute, Technion , Israel.

There is a detailed 94 page report written in Hebrew, I expect to have English translation available in a couple of weeks.


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Post Re: 12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator   Posted on: Sat Feb 01, 2014 4:27 pm
I put down unsure as although I think a Lunar space elevator is a sensible early objective of humanity's industrialisation of space. I do wonder if we might get there quicker with a couple of Waldoed curiosity massed industrial robots along with an advanced 3d printer and start bootstrapping a moon based industry that way first building linear accelerators from locally source materials or even traditional rockets using the water that is now known to be available and use that to put the mass needed to build a decent sized elevator into orbit rather than one with a 100kg limit that might be slower to build its self up and would still need extra earth based rocket launches to use it.

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Post Re: 12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator   Posted on: Sat Feb 01, 2014 4:32 pm
How will you soft land the robots on to the Moon ? that is expensive with chemical rockets ..... a lunar elevator would make your plan 20 times cheaper....

Two curiosity size rovers really will take a long time to develop infrastructure. And what is your revenue stream to pay for this?

For a lunar elevator we can land hundreds of rovers on the Moon, and we can make money by selling Helium-3 which currently sells for one million dollars per ounce.


SANEAlex wrote:
I put down unsure as although I think a Lunar space elevator is a sensible early objective of humanity's industrialisation of space. I do wonder if we might get there quicker with a couple of Waldoed curiosity massed industrial robots along with an advanced 3d printer and start bootstrapping a moon based industry that way first building linear accelerators from locally source materials or even traditional rockets using the water that is now known to be available and use that to put the mass needed to build a decent sized elevator into orbit rather than one with a 100kg limit that might be slower to build its self up and would still need extra earth based rocket launches to use it.


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Post Re: 12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator   Posted on: Sat Feb 01, 2014 6:35 pm
charlesfradley wrote:
How will you soft land the robots on to the Moon ? that is expensive with chemical rockets ..... a lunar elevator would make your plan 20 times cheaper....


I did say I was unsure and agree in the long term a lunar elevator will be more efficient its just whether the numbers add up for the payback to be quick enough on one option or the other an fully manufactured elevator is large object to launch from our 1G environment to lunar orbit whereas small mass industrial robots might be able to manufacture capabilities onsite that would then make building a useful mass elevator a lot cheaper as a lot of the materials could come from a sixth of a G field where energy and raw materials are essentially free living off the land so to speak. An elevator is a large one time capital cost coming from an expensive 1 G field on a planet where everything is owned already it could be that we are getting to the stage with materials tech that the upfront cost is worth it I am open to being convinced but put up another option for discussion as an alternative way bootstrapping a space based economy.

charlesfradley wrote:
Two curiosity size rovers really will take a long time to develop infrastructure. And what is your revenue stream to pay for this?


One idea that has been mooted is to make PV Solar panels on the moon and microwave the energy back home energy being the lowest common denominator of our technological civilisation


charlesfradley wrote:
For a lunar elevator we can land hundreds of rovers on the Moon, and we can make money by selling Helium-3 which currently sells for one million dollars per ounce.


He3 may one day make fusion commercially viable but as far as I am aware it has not been proven yet and the other uses are not that large if wiki is right 8Kg a year is used and a lot of the price is due to its rarity a significant increase in production would drop the price drastically this argument has been has been used against bringing back large amounts of platinum group metals(which I still think is a good idea anyway as they are usefully in a large number of ways) but like them I don't think you can count on the current price.

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Post Re: 12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator   Posted on: Sat Feb 01, 2014 6:46 pm
Lunar soil is a poor raw material for 3-D printers.

To process soil into useful 3-D feedstock would involve quite a bit of equipment.

A lunar elevator would pay off very quickly. Twenty landings or a single sample return mission would be cheaper by building a lunar elevator.


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Post Re: 12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator   Posted on: Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:53 pm
charlesfradley wrote:
To process soil into useful 3-D feedstock would involve quite a bit of equipment.


A magnet?

Quote:
A lunar elevator would pay off very quickly. Twenty landings or a single sample return mission would be cheaper by building a lunar elevator.


The problem is that that isn't the economic/technical choke point. Getting to LEO is. Compared to that, getting too from LLO is pocket change.


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Post Re: 12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator   Posted on: Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:00 am
A magnet would help separate magnetic particles which have a high iron content, but that is still not suitable for a 3-d printer. It requires a very high temperature to process either regolith or ferrous enriched regolith, and current 3-D printer technology is not capable. On the other hand, a lunar elevator can be built today with existing materials.

------------------------------------

Referring to LEO as a "choke point" is rather negative.

Look at it this way.

Getting to LLO is less energy than getting to GEO, and spacecraft frequently go to GEO, it is simply a question of economics.

A lunar elevator reduces the cost of soft landing on the Moon by a factor of six, which makes a number if commercial projects feasible.


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Post Re: 12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator   Posted on: Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:12 am
Luckily, very high tempuraturs/energies are readily on hand (for 22 days at a time anyway).

Your maths seem very optimistic to me. 11k kg. for the thousands of kms. of tether, supporting structure, control, and propulsion to get there? Is your tether a single strand nano-tube?


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Post Re: 12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator   Posted on: Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:18 am
It is not simply a question of energy, the 3-d printer technology is not mature enough to work with the material you have available on the Moon.

The weight of the prototype lunar elevator is 11 tons. The tether material would be either Zylon, Dyneema or M5. Not Carbon nanotubes.

The tether twine is quite thin, about 0.2 millimeters, and can support a 100 kg climber with payload in the lunar gravity field.

It is not "my numbers", the parameters of the lunar elevator have been analyzed by many experts, I have posted links to further detailed studies in the original post, if you read those it will answer your questions.

e.g. the 2008 study at Technion, and the 2005 Pearson study for NASA.


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Post Re: 12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator   Posted on: Sun Feb 02, 2014 1:27 am
charlesfradley wrote:
A magnet would help separate magnetic particles which have a high iron content, but that is still not suitable for a 3-d printer. It requires a very high temperature to process either regolith or ferrous enriched regolith, and current 3-D printer technology is not capable. On the other hand, a lunar elevator can be built today with existing materials.


Current 3D printers can print in high temperature resistant metals and ceramics. NASA has printed and tested a rocket engine that was 3D printed and IIRC a bunch of students has also done so. 3D printers are currently going thru the same Moore's law thing that computers did early on where they rapidly get cheaper and better.

charlesfradley wrote:
Referring to LEO as a "choke point" is rather negative.

Look at it this way.

Getting to LLO is less energy than getting to GEO, and spacecraft frequently go to GEO, it is simply a question of economics.

A lunar elevator reduces the cost of soft landing on the Moon by a factor of six, which makes a number if commercial projects feasible.


The first 100Km to LEO is the expensive bit and probably will be until ironically we get an Earth space elevator :wink: :twisted: I read both the 2005 and 2008 linked pdfs and from what I understand they suggest 10-17.5 $Billion cost for lunar space elevator tho the payload seemed higher is what you are suggesting building a 10th scale model and hoping that He3 harvesting and production will pay for upgrades after a few years? I double checked on wiki and I did get my figures wrong its US annual consumption that is 8kg per annum not the whole world my mistake but unless it is proven in the future to make cheap fusion possible which I hope it does I don't see the immediate need for upping production into the 2 tons per year that are quoted in the linked pdfs to get payback in 6 years.

I don't want to sound negative I really do like the idea of space elevators and think they should be built but it could be that waldoed robots with 3D printers might a step that we need to do first bootstrapping space industry to a level where we can build space elevators from resources in space. As I said I could be wrong it maybe that as CNT's can now be made in metre lengths that spun CNT's would reduce the mass needed as your calcs seem to be on zylon and I think the current state of the art CNT stuff would surpass its properties considerably.

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Post Re: 12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator   Posted on: Sun Feb 02, 2014 2:43 am
Whut he said.

The problem with the whole space elevator concept is that they are the ultimate "Catch 22" problem. You can't build one until you have the same technology that makes them obsolete. Sadly, because I like the brutal elegance of the concept as well. But they are simply not practical.

To rehash oft-argued points...

H3 is a bit of a synthetic red herring. It's utility for sustained fusion is unproven, and may never be practical. The current exorbitant price of it is based upon its exotic rarity. If you find a (relatively) cheap, plentiful source for it on the Moon, guess what will happen to that price? The same applies to all other resources too.

The cost to LEO is paradoxically the biggest handicap AND benefit to extraterrestrial resource extraction. It is ridiculous to de-orbit anything which then has to compete with Earth based alternates which will always have a cost advantage (even if they come from the bottom of the Marianas Trench). The only factor in the favor of off-Earth goods and resources is in the fleeting novelty of it, and that comes as easily to moon rocks auctioned on ebay as it does from gold or H3.

The true value of is in that extraterrestrial resources are not on and don't have to be lifted off Earth. But that is another paradox in that they won't really have that value until there is an off-Earth market for them to have value, but that market won't exist because there currently isn't any value/utility to them.

Thus, we are where we are currently.


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Post Re: 12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator   Posted on: Thu Feb 13, 2014 7:42 pm
here is the link to the PDF of my lunar elevator presentation of 2-12-14

https://app.box.com/s/hxaeih7dyapl1vzd49ca

and here is the youtube ...

https://plus.google.com/events/c7g5u2ng ... 8lbmt720ho

sorry but the screen sharing did not work, so you have to manually sync the audio with the PDF.


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Post Re: 12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator   Posted on: Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:39 pm
After listening to the talk and reading the PDFs(thanks for sharing) I have a few questions.

My understanding is that the $800Million version that has a 100Kg payload capacity would have a cable failure every 3 months or so from micro meteors and that you would have spare cable to fix this and could do so as you are not intending to do use a single cable system(you are planing 6 IIRC?) this seems OK as with 4 day travel to the Moon end you should be able to fix a broken cable in 8-9 days(assuming it takes less than a day to splice in another bit of cable and reattach at the base) and still have time for 10 payload missions.

But if the travel speed along the cable towards the counter weight is the same then it take 28-9 days with the same assumptions for a fix giving only time for 7 payload missions.

So how much spare cable are you planing to carry on the $800Million version?

How long is it likely to last??

How many payload missions will you be able to have if you hit the middle of the probability bell curve and are not either very lucky or very unlucky?

Also do you have an auto release mechanism at the counterweight end for when a cable snaps on that side and can it survive being hit by 195000 Km of cable at whatever speed it will be travelling at by the time it hits and if it can does the part at the L1 point have enough fuel to keep it there against the force imparted by the cable.

And on the Lunar ground side what is the likely hood that the moon dust kicked up by the crater cause by up to 55Km of cable dropping from 55Km up cutting thru the rest of the cables near lunar ground level?

Would the snapped bit the cable from the counterweight side definitely burn up in the Earth's atmosphere?

It could be an interesting effect with up to 195Km of burning up cable whip lashing around the equator 3 or 4 times a year.

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Post Re: 12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator   Posted on: Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:18 pm
Sorry but i do not have answers to all your questions.

We need funding to do the necessary studies, and so far there is no funding.


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Post Re: 12 Feb 2014 - Commercial Mining with a Lunar Elevator   Posted on: Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:07 pm
charlesfradley wrote:
Sorry but i do not have answers to all your questions.

We need funding to do the necessary studies, and so far there is no funding.


Its the big Catch 22 of a lot of good space projects the hows and ways of getting the money to prove that its worth spending a lot more money to save money in the long term When most political and investment cycles tend towards the short term.

My gut feeling after reading the pdfs and watching the videos is still that we will need to bootstrap the space industrial economy with semi autonomous/ waldoed robots using resources from outside our gravity well and only when its a going concern moving onto building space elevators and the lunar one would be a good place to start.

With the numbers on the likely often cutting of cables by micro meteorites its possible that only a bigger much more expensive version would be viable if it included a very good meteor defence system.

It might be possible for the smaller version to work with added motorised bobbins at the end of each stretch of cable that had tension detectors and auto wound the cable very fast in the cable snapping events. But its possible that you would need unobtainium materials for bobbins that worked at the speeds needed for full lengths of cable in which case you would need to have a modular system with the max length of cable that could be handled in a snapping event between several sets of paired bobbins until you reached the length needed.

The bobbin idea also has the advantage that you could wind "up" and "down" the counter weight to keep the central part in the L1 point without needing to use propellent mass. But the bobbins would add mass and complexity to the system.

Anyway I came back to the thread as I saw another link I thought I would share this time on an Earth space elevator it seems that the Arthur C Clarke quote has gone from laughing to giggling so we may be getting closer but I suspect more than ten years.

http://www.space.com/24739-space-elevat ... pid=514648

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