Friday, January 20, 2023


They say you have to learn to WALK before your can FLY, so before we start driving asteroids around the Solar System (and I can’t believe that Russia, China, the EU, India, Brazil, and the United States will give a happy thumbs up to that action (which just put in my mind that MOVING asteroids into Earth orbit will have to be a true, multi-national effort with multi-national crews…which, of course, will lead to incredible stress and possible conflict…)) let’s look at how we’ll start walking…

Humans have been taking pictures of asteroids, and doing flybys for twenty or more years. Recently, we’ve started landing on asteroids:

Since 2001, there have been 11 Lunar landings, so we’ve done a few baby steps. First is the Asteroid Redirect Mission ( which was cancelled in 2017. The purpose was to lift a large asteroid boulder and place it into a stable Earth orbit. NOTE: While it’s not stated anywhere, I can only imagine the objections from China (mostly) and Russia and India against the US “parking” a huge rock in orbit (and hiding a rocket engine that, ignited, could push the rock into a decaying orbit that would drop it on a target of US choice…) knowing that the Barringer crater, a kilometer across and almost 200 meters deep, was formed by a boxcar-sized rock some fifty thousand years ago.

Even a small rock, dropped into central Beijing would cause catastrophic damage. We’re going to have to get experience with landing crewed ships on asteroids and setting up operations there.

In conjunction with that, we’re going to need to get used to mining the Moon. It’s a much smaller body, has a supply of water and there’s the likelihood we can use resources on its surface to manufacture air and raw materials, and it’s a far easier target to hit. Compare that with FIRST landing the Blue Origin booster rockets and capsule in the middle of the Arizona desert and then figure landing on an ASTEROID would be like trying to using a laser pointer to shine it on a target on a person running in a straight line across a university courtyard…while you’re bouncing on a trampoline…

Oh, and you’d have to land it, too…

So, let’s just say we solve the problem of creating smaller spacecraft (say, the size of a nuclear submarine…), maybe building them in space, though the FIRST ones are going to have to be built here AND land on an iron asteroid. Once it was there, we COULD send mining bots, but there’s going to have to be a small crew there to troubleshoot…maybe a crew who could build the NEXT mining ship and send it on its way to another asteroid.

I write it like it’s a simple job; but it took us from 1944 ( to now to reach a point where we can even talk about the feasibility of mining the asteroids – seventy-seven years. Can we start today?

Nope. HOWEVER, there’s a foundation that has been laid.

We CAN land Human-made probes on asteroids and lift off again.

We CAN land people on the Moon, while we may be rusty, it’s likely to happen again in the next fifteen years or so.

We CAN support people in space, which we have done (with international cooperation no less!) with the International Space Station.

We CAN put a number of people in the space at one time, both in the past and recently.

And without a doubt, we need resources if Human civilization is to continue to advance. The resources on the planet, while there are reserves and life as we know it is NOT going to end today, they won’t possibly last forever. We need to do something besides host conferences, posture, and throw money at our social ills. Please do NOT read your own prejudices into that statement.

Programs need to be funded, but 40 years in education have shown me that unless the programs have a very specific goal and SHOW THAT THE GOAL HAS BEEN ACHIEVED, then it’s little more than rearranging classroom desks or virtue signaling. We need to get serious about living here, and we need to step back from our personal agendas, party agendas, and national agendas.

It seems to me that we CAN mine the asteroids. Human civilization certainly has the SKILLS. Now we need the naysayers to either give clear alternatives and explain their objections – and then offer solutions rather than to repeat their objections louder and begin to weep alongside or they need to stuff a sock in their mouths, bite down, and get on the bandwagon ANYWAY.