Asteroids for mining and to make habitats: what are likely ways to move them?

Orion project nuclear explosions might be plausible, but would probably be expensive, use very heavy materials from Earth, and could be limited to the military.

Perhaps fusion power? Laser confinement fusion could perform a similar function to the micro-nukes of Orion. Or maybe another method, like powering a high-field ion drive?

Using the oxygen say from smelting iron oxide, or water could work. But that would likely be very valuable in its own right. And what would you burn, would hydrogen be obtainable?

So what about a railgun, using solar charging, and firing the least useful constituents for equal-and-opposite reaction impulses? Is that more likely than the other options?

All points in response appreciated, especially pointers to research and analysis of options. Am just trying to think through post-Mars space goals.

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    $\begingroup$ Speculative science-based questions like this might be better served on Worldbuilding. Read the tour there and phrase your question, and you should get some realistic answers. Take care to search before asking as it's likely this has been covered in past questions. $\endgroup$
    – user38625
    Apr 26 '21 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ Using available and proven technology, there is no way to move an asteroid larger than 100 m diameter. But if you select a small one below 2m, it is possible. The most difficult problem will be funding such a mission. By the way, smelting iron oxide does not release oxygen. You need something like hot carbon monoxide to reduce the oxide- $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Apr 26 '21 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand, do you want to move them, blow them up, or bring them to match Earth's heliocentric orbital velocity for capture or atmospheric entry. Your plan is not at all clear, and these may have substantially different answers. I think your question could benefit from some clarification and thinking-through, and if you can add a link to anything you're read on the topic for specific context, that may help to generate an answer you'll find helpful. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 27 '21 at 3:51
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh: Orbital structures, and resources for Mars & Moon bases. This kind of thing nasa.gov/content/what-is-nasa-s-asteroid-redirect-mission $\endgroup$
    – CriglCragl
    Apr 27 '21 at 8:28

The rocket equation is valid not only for rockets but also for railguns built upon an asteroid. To achieve useful orbital speeds you need to shoot away more than about 70 to 80 % of the asteroid mass. A single stage will do, we don't have to fight the gravity of Earth.


It depends on where you want them move too. Probably to an Earth-bound orbit.

You could put fusion thrusters on two opposite sides. Before you must of course make computer simulations for the directions used for the thrusters. Then you can adjust the thrusters by communication with the computer where the simulated trajectory can be compared with the real one, in real time (taking into consideration time delay though), so the directions of the thrusters and their exhaust can be controlled. Direct, steer, parking. Ready, steady, go mining.

A second possibility is to make an asteroid crash on the Moon. This will be easier and less expensive. But the minestuff will be somewhat difficult to gather. Though without mining.

Best of luck. Maybe mister Tesla will make one of them his next habitat. It would release Earth from a big burden...

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    $\begingroup$ Does Amazon sell these fusion thrusters? $\endgroup$ Aug 9 '21 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble The thrusters that are attached to both sides by sattelites or manned spacetrips to the asteroid. They fuse matter with antimatter which gives gives the energy to be radiated away. Of course antimatter has to be stored for that but I assume this no problem in 50 years. Even a small engine can be designed to be "thrown" at the asteroid. It self-attaches (like a fly on the ceiling). $\endgroup$ Aug 9 '21 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble :D Maybe in the future... But only the book with instructions. Or do they sell different stuff too? An antimatter packet. Do not open! $\endgroup$ Aug 9 '21 at 22:28

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