44

Musk is creating a Starship "production line", because obviously, he wants a lot of Starships. This aligns with the company's goal of "making humanity a multi-planetary species". As for "where is the market?": It doesn't exist yet. Currently, SpaceX's attitude towards space is "build it and they will come". Many large scale investment organizations ...


38

NASA has actually published a study on this. This study was the primary motivator for Planetary Resources to start its work on mining an asteroid. And there is more work being done by NASA to learn more as well. And there's the approach that Planetary Resources has set in place, which seems to be the best overall approach. The first thing that should be ...


19

Bob Zubrin, of Mars Direct fame, has been critical of the SpaceX Mars plan. He suggests that it makes no sense to send a full Starship too Mars, instead use it to launch the Mars vehicle and just use Starship to bring payload and fuel. Most of the concern revolves around the fact each Starship sent to Mars is committed for almost two years. In normal ...


14

The Chinese Space Program is largely handled by two entities, China National Space Administration (CNSA) and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). They are both state agencies with the former handling the planning and the latter, the implementation. A Wired article dated July 1, 2013, and titled, A dragon in space: China's space ...


12

Mass fraction and Tsiolkovsky's rocket equation make for major hurdles. Mf, or the ratio of propellent to dry mass is given by: $Mf=1-e^{-delta V/V_{exhaust}}$ To climb out of a steep gravity well we need a high thrust propellent. So we use chemical rockets. The $V_{exhaust}$ for the higher ISP chemical propellents is around 4 km/s. Delta V to get to LEO ...


8

The basic reason is it that it takes a lot of velocity to put an object in orbit. For example the orbital velocity at LEO is around 7.8 km/s. What this necessarily means, is that the final stage of the rocket - the one that actual releases the satellite in it's intended orbit - will be moving at nearly orbital velocity. If you want to recover that stage, you ...


8

You may want to read: Legal Aspects of Space Commercialization - K. Tatsuzawa. A few quotations follow... Costs have been insured: In 1982, ESA insured the Marecs-A and B satellites for \$90 million, for a premium of \$6.7 million (7.5% of the insured capital). Insurance would cover only a second failure, meaning that payment would occur if both ...


7

Lunar regolith may contain not only the lightest noble gas helium, but also hydrogen and other noble gases like neon, argon, krypton and xenon. The concentration of helium is much higher than that of the other noble gases. More than 99 % of lunar soil are oxides of silicon and some metals like iron and aluminum, see table 7.15 on page 62 of the Pdf. Source ...


5

This is somewhat a matter of opinion, but I believe the answer to your title question is "NONE". That's why there aren't any major mining companies that are even remotely close to doing this. If there were resources on asteroids that merited the costs of mining them, then such companies would probably start to do so. The first two questions you raise (the ...


4

The answer will depend on how we deplete our Earth resources. I'm fairly sure uranium would be extremely welcome since I've seen estimates that we have maybe 100 years worth of its supply, although it's yet to be found in bulk in space. While iron is abundant on Earth, smelting its ores is costly both environmentally and financially, so a "space forge" ...


4

You cannot vacuum in a vacuum, if you want to use a pressure differential to move dust on the moon you will have to supply the gas yourself so it's no longer a vacuum. You could set up a system which releases gas which is then sucked up, however I doubt it's a viable proposition because you won't be able to match the vacuum power of space itself. Having the ...


4

I would say chemical engineers play less of a role in space exploration than aero/astro, mechanical, software, and electrical engineers. I'll try to back this up with evidence before I share my anecdote. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most chemical engineers work in manufacturing (of chemicals). Designing new chemical products (like fuels or ...


4

Practical roadblocks to getting a payload that small into orbit: IIRC nobody offers this service for random small objects. The space industry has more or less standardized on the cubesat standard, so a minimum object of 10x10x10 cm. There have been studies for even smaller satellites, but no successful missions yet. objects smaller than that fall in a ...


4

That \$3000 per kilogram (\$2000/kg for launch with a reused rocket) assumes a large payload, resulting in a launch cost in several tens to a few hundreds of millions of dollars. The price one has to pay to have a small payload piggyback on the launch of a large payload is three orders of magnitude less than that, several tens to a few hundreds of thousands ...


4

You can see all the external spending by Agency for the government at usaspending.gov, Just do an advanced search limiting the awarding agency to NASA. Edit: Search links go stale after a while, here is an archive of all Awards made by NASA in FY2018.


3

The lowest price I have seen for a launch vehicle to place an object in Low Earth Orbit is the Vector-R by Vector Systems. This rocket has a maximum payload of 63 kilos. The cost for a launch is 1.5 million dollars, which is or roughly $24,000 per kilo. You might find a lower cost per kilo, but I am not aware of a lower cost per mission. I should add this ...


3

Have a look at this paper, which discusses using magnets to collect the regolith in tubes similar to a maglev system. It also claims that the very fine dust particles can remain electrostatically suspended above the surface, forming an abrasive pseudo-atmosphere. The lunar hoverboard would not be very popular with your fellow lunar residents. Fortunately it ...


3

According to this link and this pdf, there are 14713 staff working under ISRO as of 2012.


2

It would seem according to this table on the ISRO site that they had 15,483 employees as of 2010.


2

While living in China (2004 to 2007), I overheard that China was hiring every space engineer its universities were producing every year. So, at the time, I heard that their center in Gansu province was the place for over 300000 space related workers. Of course no one told me if they were working under the same entity... Could include many "private" ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible