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Mining Asteroids

Some scientists and entrepreneurs say they’ll go to outer space for precious metals. We’ll think about that.

This computer-generated image provided by Planetary Resources, a group of high-tech tycoons that wants to mine nearby asteroids, shows a conceptual rendering of a spacecraft preparing to capture a water-rich, near-Earth asteroid. (AP)

This computer-generated image provided by Planetary Resources, a group of high-tech tycoons that wants to mine nearby asteroids, shows a conceptual rendering of a spacecraft preparing to capture a water-rich, near-Earth asteroid. (AP)

In the old days, we sang about fear and fortune way down in the mines. This week, the mining talk was way up in space. Mining asteroids. A bunch of rich guys with big track records and big dreams have formed a new company – Planetary Resources – to chase down asteroids and suck out their riches. Platinum. Iridium. Water in space.

If it sounds like the movie Avatar, well, director James Cameron is in the venture. So are Google guys. And Microsoft money. Is this for real?

This hour, On Point: Planetary Resources founder Eric Anderson and more. We’re thinking about mining asteroids.

-Tom Ashbrook


J. Kelly Beatty, contributing editor at Sky & Telescope magazine.

Eric Anderson, co-founder and co-chairman of Planetary Resources, Inc.

Henry Hertzfeld, Research Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs at George Washington University.

From Tom’s Reading List

You can read more about the asteroid mining plan at the website of the company behind the idea, Planetary Resources.

Christian Science Monitor “Google Inc executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt and filmmaker James Cameron are among those bankrolling a venture to survey and eventually extract precious metals and rare minerals from asteroids that orbit near Earth, the company said on Tuesday.”

Discovery News “Although Tuesday’s exciting announcement that the asteroid mining start-up Planetary Resources has attracted some very high-profile investors and advisers, it’s probably a good idea to take a step back and understand why we don’t already have refineries attached to near-Earth asteroids.”

Space.com “The prospect of mining asteroids may sound like science fiction, but that’s exactly what the ambitious new company Planetary Resources, Inc. plans to do — and a recent study by  NASA, university and private groups says it’s actually possible.”

Video: CBS News On Asteroid Mining

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  • Lou Rose

    How is it that a handful of rich guys get to decide that THEY own the resources on an asteroid?  It’s not theirs.

    • AC

      this has been going on for a long time now; at least it’s not the 1st i’ve heard of it. here is an article:

    • Arnon

      It will be theirs if the can get to it and mine it. 

      A tree branch belongs to no one till someone picks it up and makes a walking stick out of it. Then it’s hers.

    • Mr_Trees

      Why wouldn’t it be theirs?  I don’t think that eminent domain extends beyond the atmosphere.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Like throughout History, those that CAN acquire mineral wealth, DO.  Heard of DeBeers?  Standard Oil?, Anaconda Copper? BP? U.S. Steel?  ANY of the other HUGE conglomerates that coerce and bribe governments, to get the ‘RIGHTS’, to mineral wealth of a country?  Can YOU, in your current position, mine an asteroid?   If NOT, what are you asking?

  • Michiganjf

    This is a sad joke.

    Nothing of the sort will be even close to profitable any time soon, or perhaps ever… as time passes, resources will become more valuable and rare, yes, but such an endeavor will also become more prohibitively expense.

    In fact, the expense will almost surely rise faster than the value of dwindling resources, which in turn will further affect expense.

    Meanwhile, people here in the “real world” will be begging (or rioting) for wealth to be spent on ever-increasing terrestrial problems.

    I’d say this is most certainly an elaborate scam, except for the fact that it has drawn such high profile interest.

    Of course, it’s not as if NASA scientists/engineers haven’t had some absurd ideas of their own, despite some of their “spacey” notions finding exorbitant funding to the point of fruition.

    Nonetheless, good luck and I’d LOVE to see ROBOTS IN SPACE sending back postcards!

    • Michiganjf

      … anyway, where are we going to get more platinum for future million plus singles?

    • Drew You Too

      Great comment minus the “Nothing of the sort will be even close to profitable any time soon, or perhaps ever…” (just my opinion). Why can’t we ever get past short term financial profitability? The rest of your comment rocks! It would DEFINITELY be more beneficial to dedicate the resources that would fund this endeavor to attempt to keep us from tearing ourselves apart right here on Earth.

  • AC

    moving up and out…kepler 22b, here we come…..!!

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    It took 87 days for BP to cap it’s Deep Water Horizon well. By what miracle of science will space mining become economically feasible? Even if we develop robotic space miners, the reality of our gravity wells requires extremely cheap abundant energy and a revolution in propulsion systems which would be the foundation of a viable industry. How far over the horizon is that technology and at what price?

    Wouldn’t it be cheaper and less risky to mine metropolitan land fills?

  • JustSayin

    The future of asteroid mining: (fun for a Friday)

     “Congress is convening a special meeting this afternoon to underwrite the failed asteroid mining scheme which has destabilized a large NEO.  As usual, emergency taxpayer funding will be required to save the venture capitalists and a large section of the planet from the severe impact that it will have on the planet and the world economy.

    The group mining venture went public under the moniker conmen and was started with almost 200K of private monies, and over 300 billion in government lending and subsidies.  The group consists of the standard collection of former military/government/Wall St personnel that are so similar and interchangeable that names and credentials are unnecessary.

    To date the group, having spent nearly 3 billion on equipment to reach and destabilize the asteroid, and the remainder on salaries and bonuses. The conmen are now demanding tarp funding to complete a mission that has grown too big to fail.

    The CEO was quoted before the meeting stating that: “Only totally private ventures like conmen can achieve such lofty goals in space, and if the government wants free trade and private investment in space they will have to come up with the taxpayer monies to keep the inefficiencies of government out of private industry.”

    The Fed chairman stated that the tarp was required to save the planet, but stated once again that this all too common action may create a lessening of the sense of moral hazard. The Fed chairman is a major shareholder in the conmen scheme so the monies are assured.

  • Patrik

    We seem, as a society, to be doing everything we can to exhaust all the nearest resources to avoid pioneering into space.  We desperately need a 21st Century Lewis & Clark.

    • Drew You Too

      Lewis & Clark minus profit motive equals advancement.

      Lewis & Clark plus profit motive equals further retardation.

      • Patrik


        • Oscarholman

          Not agreed.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    I’d like to see them try – even if it’s not successful in itself, the technology that comes out of it could be very worthwhile.

    Eventually it will happen – but I suspect not until they can build robot technology smart enough to take of themselves and do the work by themselves.

  • Mr_Trees


    Can you ask your guests: Would Apophos be a candidate for mining? I heard a fantastic TED talk the other day that spoke about Apophos being a potential candidate for an asteroid being brought into MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) as a possible deflection agent if a future asteroid impact was imminent.  I would hope that greed over mined materials would not corrupt such a valiant and ambitious endeavor.  Is it naive to think that the two possibilities are mutually exclusive?

  • SamEw

     Eesh such negativity on the boards. Even if the exploration is not plausible in the near term stretching the bands of human potential is how we innovate, discover and hopefully create a better world for the future. 

  • Lin

    Imagine how much good all that money could do right here on earth. 

    • Jerico Johnston

      You’re absolutely right Lin, but it’s not our money to spend so it’s best not to dwell on it.

    • Trimegistus

      As opposed to where? They’re not shooting rocketloads of dollar bills into space, you idiot. They’re spending it ON EARTH in order to do stuff in space.

  • Jack Acme

    Professor Tom Murphy of UCSD has laid out a persuasive argument for why this will never happen. It comes down to physics. Leaving aside the economics of it the energy requirements and the reality of gravity make it extremely unlikely.


    • Hollister David

      Murphy’s Math is wrong. He doesn’t know how to patch conics correctly, apparently he’s never heard of the Oberth Effect. Nor aerobraking. Nor 3-body mechanics as used by Belbruno and others.
      The solutions he explores are absurd straw men. For example Murphy correctly notes extra terrestrial propellant would be helpful. What propellant sources does he suggest? Jupiter and Titan! Possible propellant sources much closer in terms of delta V: near earth asteroids as well as the cold traps at the lunar poles. And in fact, Near Earth Asteroids are indeed where Planetary Resource are hoping to find water. If you suggested Titan to their engineers, they would correctly dismiss you as clueless.For a more detailed critique of Murphy’s “Stranded Resources”:

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

    This is the jump off point to the commercialization of space travel and exploration. I for one can’t wait to see where it takes us.

  • Trcf

    News summary: The Mad Cow jumped over the asteroid.

  • Kenny B

    This is a great idea.
    Advance human civilization without destroying
    the very place that made out civilization possible…


  • ToyYoda

    Last time I checked, near earth asteroids were scary objects that threaten the future of the Earth through impact.  Now, they are looked upon as a venture opportunity!! 

     I’m wondering if we start mining the asteroids, is there a risk of knocking the asteroids off their orbit and sending one of these asteroids toward Earth?

  • ToyYoda

    I think this stuff is all so amazing, and fun.  Are they hiring  software engineers?  Where can I sign up?

  • Handsondesign

    Very Interesting.  Maybe Newt wasn’t so crazy for talking about colonizing the moon.

    • http://twitter.com/Dave_Eger Dave Eger

      Colonizing the moon isn’t that crazy, but Newt thinking he could ever win the presidency is.

    • Heaviest Cat

      yes he was and he shares the exploitive mentality of these egotists.

  • Guest

    Mad Cows are running wild and all in the same pasture. So last week we hear how the US has ignored the sea and needs to start exploring it, and now we are listening to short sighted individuals talk about mining outer space.
    Until you learn how to deal with the deep sea, stay home and quit wasting money with your pipe and dreams. 

    • http://twitter.com/Dave_Eger Dave Eger

      The deep sea is scarier than space. We’ve spent less time there. The thing is, there’s a lot of intelligent people on Earth that can do exciting things, and if they don’t have exciting things to do, they start to get restless. When it comes to facing challenges, we need to have a “yes, and”‘ mentality, rather than panicing that we can’t handle our stuff. There are solutions to our environmental problems here on Earth, but we have to get past our social and information distribution issues first.

      • Guest

         Dave, you are quite right; however, most people are just users on this earth. I made choices to live in the middle of wilderness, without any people around, no noise, and with little pollution. Everything is paid off and I have few expenses, which leaves more time for reading, experimenting, hiking, exploring, etc.

        One answer to your concern are solar panels. They should be mandated for all NEW HOMES, if people were up on the field and not bought out.

        Do you know how little we have explored the deep sea? Until you have this knowledge, then you need to sit quietly while getting up to speed. This is a problem for most people because we didn’t invest in the vessels needed to explore the deep sea because of the Kennedy era competition with the Russians. Let’s move on!

        • Trimegistus

          That’s a great idea: FORCE people to use an inefficient, useless form of power generation! What an idiot.

  • Stacey

    I read the Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley-Robinson. This conversation reminds me a lot of that series.

    Stacey Blersch, Buffalo NY

    • John C

      I read that series, and it’s science wasn’t really all that great but man, I was inspired by Red Mars/Green Mars/Blue Mars for years!

  • Tncanoeguy

    Alien – prophetic?  

  • Barry

    So On Point, created to serve the critical mission of promoting discourse in an age that’s breaking apart at the seems, gives over an hour to megalomaniacal fantasy.  Sad.

    • Barry

       That’s “seams.”  Sorry.

  • Heaviest Cat

     I’m all for space exploration but not space exploitation. Yet another corporate serving pretentious narrative about elite wealthy “visionaries”  reducing the mystery of space to a commodity which they wil certainly have a monoploy on should they be sucessful. I hope today’s show will offer some critical inquiry into the stated motives and social consequences of such an endeavor.  

    • Trimegistus

      You’re right. We should leave all those uninhabited rocks alone, because you’re afraid someone might get rich. What an idiot.

      • Heaviest Cat

        Apparnetly ,you’re so drunk with your ad hominem attacks on anyone who disagrees with you that you didn’t read my post accurately. I expressed concerned about the possible monopolizing of acces to Space not merely “getting rich”.

        • Trimegistus

          So expanding the market for low-cost space launch somehow monopolizes access to space? You truly are an idiot.

  • http://twitter.com/Dave_Eger Dave Eger

    It’s nice to have a topic to discuss in the realm of technology that not just for purposed of entertainment or warfare. Even if actually doing this is years out, at least discussing it makes people think of advancing human civilization, rather than just occupying our boredom or killing each other. 

    And just add a dose of cynicism, I’m more concerned about humans interested in building attack robots to control humans with, than I am of violent aliens. If we did ever meet any deadly aliens, it’s more likely they would be in the realm of Andromeda Strain rather than Alien, but in all seriousness, we haven’t found any evidence of extraterrestrial life, but we do have people building killer robots.

    • at

       Building killer robots — bro they are already taking orders for them.


    • Terry Tree Tree

      You didn’t read the first part of “Andromeda Strain”, that I have.   Creighton says in them, that the government requested him to write the book, to explain an ACTUAL event!  
         ‘Wildfire’ WAS, and probably IS an existing government contingency program, to deal with an ‘Andromeda Strain’?
         Check out the first pages, BEFORE the start of chapter 1, in different printings.  I have 2, that have this ‘Introduction’, each in different wordings.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    so how long before we start hearing stories about how terrorists will be attacking us from space?

  • BHA in Vermont

    How about we use the money to provide universal health care instead.

    • Trimegistus

      Well, an extra trillion dollars added to the economy from space industry might help. What an idiot you are.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        You would be MORE effective, if you leave off the dismissive calling people an idiot! 
            There is some truth, and benefit, from your AND their proposals.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Water is not going to be a commodity until there is a market for it – and there’s not too many entities with a lot of cash up there looking for water.

    • Dude2

      Water will be very useful in space, not only can you drink it, you can breath it and use it for fuel. Three pretty basic necessities.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Robots in space would need water ONLY for the fuel? 

  • Sheryl

    Wait, wait, wait….this is an excellent idea but what are other countries going to think about us flying out into space and taking possession of asteroids?  The “genie is out of the bottle” now, but this is creating a whole new industry, legal questions (who owns what in space), and militery implications.  Will the US govt eventually be responsible for protecting these “assets”?

    • at

      There is something fundamentally skewed by a view that thinks that people who have no ability, or desire, to explore and expand should have any say over what those who can and will should do with the rescources they are able to exploit. Does a grasshopper confer with an ant about eating a weed? Should the european monarchies have been consulted with when a frontiersman cleared land? The monarch certainly thought so. You can see which way that went. What part did you get when Exxon was pumping all that oil out of the US (number one oil exporter right up into the seventies)? In case you don’t know: you didn’t get sh*t from it. What part of the wealth to be found in the fracking do you think the citizens of PA will get? In order to control something you have to be able to control it. If someone can actually do something like this in space no one will know what they are actually doing, let alone be able to control it.

      • Heaviest Cat

        History shows that exploration and exansion have consequesnces which should be subject to critical scrutiny by inromed citizens of a democracy.Ask Native Americans about the “frontiersman who cleared the land”. Also ask the grizzly bear weho nearly wiped out by that “frontiersman”. it’s that “frontiersman” mentality that we have to scurtinze.

        • KilgoreTrout

          Dude you are delusional. History shows whatever anyone wants it to. History is a rorschach test.  You may indeed be heavy, but only on Jupiter. Life expands in every direction it can, all at once. Regulate that.

          • Heaviest Cat

            rhetorically who can argue with you but what’s the context here? What does it have to do with the social and economic impacts on usof a few elites monopolizing and commodifying Space?

          • RipTideSal

            monopolizing space? lol

            Space is a big place. It starts right here and as far as we know, goes forever.

          • RadcliffPolize3

            Funny that: I have the distinct impression that you are the one monopolizing space.

          • Heaviest Cat

            How? I’ve never been there? And if you mean this space who am I crowding out?

        • JJJimmmanyC

          Another person who bought into the Native American myth. And here you are quoting history. tisk tisk. If you actually knew history you would know that what happened to Native Americans, happened to all backward tribes that met up with technologically superior but morally similar alien groups. The same thing happened to the ancestors of the European invaders themselves, repeatedly.  The Native Americans were not morally superior to the Europeans. In fact in most instances they entirely lived up to the moniker of savage. They are held up as primitive environmentalist of a sort. This is pure hollywood fantasy. The fossil record quite clearly show that anything that was tasty enough and slow and stupid was hunted to extinction by them. Just like everywhere else. If ever there was a nation that deserved  to fall it was the Aztecs and the other insane cannibal — religion from hell based cultures.

          • Heaviest Cat

            I never claimed that Native Americans were “morally superior” to European settlers. Nor did I purport to paint them as idealzed noble s But they had their civilzations and their ways which were savaged by the settlers. Furthermore according to author James Loewen in his book about Amercian History textbooks, many of the tribal councils were used as models for democracy as we know it.

          • CarlonHodges

            The same way a case could be made that the source of our democracy can be traced to the tribal councils or “things” that the Germanic tribes held, before they came in contact with the Romans. Never the less the model of our republic comes from Rome and not the Vandals or Blackfeet. No mater the Romance of Native American fantasies that existed no where but the minds of hollywood producers from eastern europe.

          • Heaviest Cat

            Who’s talking about hollywood? I’m citing a historian and author.

        • ConstanceDuke

          I think you should indeed go ask a grizzly bear. Put the pipe down before you get so heavy you float out the window.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Some excellent points, an important history!

    • Terry Tree Tree

      There ARE existing treaties about this in space.  I am NOT privy to the details.
        MORE may need to be made?

  • Thinkin15

    It’s fun, it’s exciting but is it practical and sensible? There is so much of this planet to explore yet. How about deep sea exploration? We may be sitting on top of the minerals and water they are questing for.

    • PaxtonQuigley3

      If you were really thinkin Thinkin, you would have thought that a gallon of water in space is worth big bucks while one that we have here is not worth all that much. You also would have thought about why that is so, and no one would really have to explain it to you. Also it is not a matter of exploration it is a matter of exploitation, or the least possible amount of exploration to allow exploitation on a level that will motivate possible expansion of that exploitation. Once you get into space in a meaningful way, all old ideas about the environment and the relative meaning of degrading an environment that is limited and used for habitation by life and one that is unlimited and not any lifeforms enviroment will be meaningless and the faster we realize that the better. I wouldn’t really be an Avatar kind of thing.

  • Raht_Ketusingha

    Will there be any EXTERNALITY effects of this enterprise? How likely can it create some kind of imbalance systemic problems?  And, will the LONG RUN effects be as positive and the immediate benefits?  Will our later generations suffer too much? 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    sovereignty and ownership are spurious issues – or at least until there are so many interests up there that they are fighting over asteroids.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Fun reading – Heinlein’s “The Man Who Sold the Moon”, “Misfit”, “The Rolling Stones”.

    • Emerald

       I was thinking of “The Man Who Sold the Moon” while I was listening to this!

  • Patrik

    Oh sure, let’s go erode and destroy another environment instead, thats responsible…

    • UnionTits34

      Wow, is this a stupid comment. How do you destroy an environment that: Has no life, is just a rock that does nothing but go around the sun, no body live on or cares about? Just what would constitute “destroying” such an “environment”? An environment for what? It isn’t even an environment unless something lives on it. This is the kind of ill-informed knee-jerk comment that makes people think that environmentalists are idiots.

      • Patrik

        Sorry I didn’t know there wasnt life there, I haven’t had the privelge of visiting and observing that rock as you have…my bad.

        • JamieDean2

          I didn’t think a post that out-did your first for dumb was possible. You destroy more life by breathing one breath than could be destroyed by mining a hundred million asteroids. It is therefore your duty as an environmentally conscientious citizen to stop breathing at once.

          • MiltoniNMelborne3

            For which he will surely receive a Darwin Award (if he hasn’t already because of these two posts)

    • Trimegistus

      Yeah, boy, we need to protect the environment of airless, uninhabited rocks. What an idiot you are.

  • at

    You do know what will happen to the precious metals market if these guys make this profitable? What happens if they push an asteroid into geocentric orbit with a little ion engine they attach to it? Then start cutting it up and using parachutes to drop it down the gravity well.  We have the tech to do this right now. You do know that some of them are made of precious metals right?  What if they coral one that has twice the gold that is in circulation as money? Some gold asteroid that is twice the size of an olympic pool would do it. Then the gold bugs will find out what the “intrinsic” value of their favorite metal really is.

    This may be what it takes to get us into space in a big way: a gold rush. I also hear there is a planet made entirely out of gem grade diamonds (no lie) just waiting for the sextillionaire with the balls to take it.

  • HarlyDay444

    The date is 2051: a gleaming metal sphereoid the size of a grape fruit
    makes a flyby of section 456 of the asteroid belt. Object 3467 has
    characteristics that automatically cue a analysis set, a laser is fired
    at the surface of the object and the spectrographic analysis of the vapor
    indicates a high concentration of precious metals in an iron matrix. A
    nano-injector capsule is fired at the object. The small capsule touches
    the asteroids surface and injects two ml of a SNG (self-replicating
    nanobot gel) just below the surface. Hundreds of thousands of nanobots
    start to use the substance of the asteroid to replicate themselves
    (phase one tool bots) and later more specialized nano-assemblies are nanofactured, as it
    eats up the asteroid and transforms it into a factory that will use it’s
    own material and other material arriving from a vast network of
    coordinating nanofacturing sites that are growing on other asteroids.
    Just six months later a fleet of fully independent space barges — all
    grown from the same few cc’s of nanobots, cue themselves up at space elevator C9
    and begin to transform themselves and their cargo into standardized
    container units for the weeks long ride down to industrial park 356.

    Earthside: The power-elite are having a harder and harder time maintaining the illusion of scarcity in the light of the limitless wealth of space that is arriving on earth each day, as the nanobots begin exploiting the moons of the gas giants to transport mind-boggling huge vessals full of hydrocarbon fuels to the sparkling energy hungry towers of earth cities. Finally the limitless is within our reach, and mankind is eager to get on with his true destiny after ages of bullsh*t caused by, fear, greed, and stupidity. Also it is of note that Bill 509999 passed in the Center for Earth Union today, which effectively makes it illegal to present unverifiable facts about any subject as truth.

    • Wm. James from Missouri

      John von Neumann lives ! Wunderbar !

    • American Pissant

       what is a fact?  What is truth?  Sounds Orwellian to me?  In other words–no democracy, no conversation, no discussion, no dissent–shut up!  The flesh men with the robotic brains have spoken-all ye humans sit down and shut the f up!  And the flag that will reign in these times–a swastika with a cross and a red and white stripes over a field of starry blue.

    • American Pissant

       so naive–why would you think this would unite earth–the resource wars will just extend into space.  And the destruction will be immeasurable

  • nj_v2

    We’ve done such an exemplary job of wisely utilizing our resources, limiting waste, and protecting the environment here on this planet, no doubt we’ll extend that great record to the rest of the solar system given the chance.

    • GlennSern2

      There is no “environment” in the rest of the solar system (that we are aware of) because nothing lives there. And it is already quite dirty. Really your equation of the exploitation of the solar system with that of the need to protect the environment here on earth is just incorrect. Humans will probably be able to get to habitable planets long before they are able to terraform any of our planets to be anything but stations like at the south pole. We should use them in any way we find possible.

      • nj_v2


        A Minefield in Earth Orbit: How Space Debris Is Spinning Out of Control [Interactive]

        • JamaLee

          This is an irrelevant response since we are not talking about low earth orbit. Typical red herring.

          • American Pissant

             no were talking about polluting further into space–expanding our filth and fascism

        • ComptonJames45

          That’s like the Spanish saying, “Hey the bays are getting all polluted with debris from the docks and this water traffic, we should just forget about the new world to keep the seashore cleaner.

          • Heaviest Cat

            well? Look what the Spanish and other euopeans did to the “new World”. hey enslaved or slaughtered the inhabitants and took their resources and land. Yeah keep the shores cleaner.

          • American Pissant

             precisely–look what they did to the new world you nazi.  maybe they should of handled shit at home before they went out to destroy somebody else property.  The ‘new world’ was not new–people lived there–dirty polluting littering murderous fools like you killed the natives and dubed it the new world.  history will repeat itself.

            Lets mine the midefiled first–recuycle all those spare parts–melt them down and use it to mine asteroids with an International version of Nasa.  i dont want america or Blackwater to expand into the universe–i want the people of earth, the people, to expand into the universe

    • Trimegistus

      You’re right. We should leave those airless, lifeless, uninhabited rocks alone. We might mess them up somehow. What an idiot you are.

      • Heaviest Cat

        nj-v has a point. if we’re not willing to exercise stewardship over our present resources ,in the name of “profit”,why should we go grab from Space? It’s like a spoiled brat who is guaranteed a new toy everytime he breaks the old one.

        • American Pissant

           lets learn to practice good stewardship on earth before we advance into space like a disease

      • nj_v2

        Poor Mr/Ms Trimegistus seems to have exhusted his/her limited vocabulary after only a very few posts. 

      • American Pissant

         hey smartguy–asteroids are a premise–eventually macodonalds will extend into deep space and colonize europa and titan and mars and then these pristine unknown environments will be destroyed in the hands of corporate power–who lack any scientific credibility–only greed. 

        Anyone with an opinion different than yours is an idiot.  YOu should let grown-ups speak now and go back to playing cowboys and indians in the contaminated irradiated soil in your backyard.

  • John C

    Let me start by saying I suppose one could say perhaps I am being too sensitive, but I felt the bumper music was poorly chosen, seeming appropriate only to mock the subject.  I felt like Tom was suspending belief in very topic and only doing the show to display his good humor. 

    Yes, I recall the past discussions of Helium-3 on this show.

    I suppose everyone must be skeptical on some things, and that biases can be difficult to overcome. 

    However, I believe Napoleon Bonaparte himself scoffed at the concept of a steam engine being used to provide motive power for ships, saying something to the effect of, “You would light a bonfire beneath deck of a ship to make it move? I have no time for such nonsense.”

    History will be the judge, ultimately, but today I judge Tom’s demeanor throughout this hour as thoroughly incredulous and barely contained impulses to mock the topic.

    If we abandon the dreams of exploiting space for its evident resources, I promise you, other nations will not, and then we will have ceded any potential benefit in an effort to play catch up with the rest of the world.

    We should embrace this effort with a reasonable investment of resources, not discard it into the dustbin of history only to have it picked up by the People’s Republic of China.

    • American Pissant

       first of all–corporations are international entities without allegiance to America. 

      i would rather put all the money used in your nazi wars against the middle east, Africa, and south America into NASA–and proceed with caution and citizen input.  lets put people in space, and robots and create jobs–lets do it–but lets not give propriety to trademarks.  That is a mistake.

      i see mining asteroids as an essential step to understanding the universe–something that wil aid is is future space exploration–deep space depots–but more citizen involvement and independent regulatory bodies would be wiser than corporate power colonizing space–we saw what the East India company did to the world?

  • Trimegistus

    There are an awful lot of idiotic comments here.

    “We shouldn’t let these guys spend their own money because I think it should go to some useless entitlement program!”

    “We shouldn’t let these guys spend their own money because they might make a profit!”

    “We shouldn’t let these guys spend their own money because they might harm the airless, lifeless rocks out there!”

    Is every public radio listener a complete idiot, or just the ones who post comments here?

  • Acrolite

    Wow… can you imagine if the internet had been around when Kennedy decided to go to the moon? I bet the reaction would’ve been very similar to the bozo’s that are posting on this page…

    All this nonsense about “corporate greed” and “wasting money” and “harming other environments.”

    Are you people serious?

    How about this? All the neo-luddites go sit in a corner and commiserate amongst yourselves while the people with vision, capability and daring go about changing the world.

    • Heaviest Cat

      “vision”? capability”? ‘Daring’?  maybe we’re all so over that misleading comic book rhetoric.

      • Acrolite

        Rhetoric? Wow, you really are a jaded individual, aren’t you?

        vision = the folks who can conceive of mining otherwise worthless rocks in our solar system to make life better for the rest of us. That’s vision.

        capability = the folks with the money (most of which have actually earned their money by creating a good or service – Google, Microsoft, etc), plus the folks with the technical background required to pull this off – all the literal rocket scientists and engineers and astronauts. That’s capability.

        daring = the folks willing to risk tens of millions of their own money, plus their time and reputations, on an unproven theory. That’s daring.

        I can’t imagine living like you, constantly viewing the world with such a jaundiced eye.

        • Heaviest Cat

          hey Acro,
            I’m not against any of those words per se. Just the way, they’re exploited by wealthy elites.

        • American Pissant

           many people can and would create wonderful services–probably better than our alternatives–if we had rich daddies to finance it.  Success does not always equal ingenuity and hard work–it seldom does.  better people often lack opportunities because shitty people steal them.

          Who wants ot make life better for the rest of us–are you a joke–they want to profit and lord it over the rest of us you donkey.

          Having said all that–i love the idea–i just want it done sustainably, thoughtfully, and in an egalitarian manner.  i dont like the idea of commercializing space and planets–the golden arches on the moon, billboards on the rings of Saturn, Starbucks on Europa–come on—you definition for daring is not mine.  We mucked up earth–lets think about and discuss ‘daringly’ –without shutting people down like a blowhard–before we muck up the cosmos too.

    • American Pissant

       so, let me get this straight–you don’t like democracy–you opinion is god’s opinion?  The is no value in dissent?

      If you listen closely–nobody is really saying that they would not explore space or mine asteroids–they are simply adding their 2cents.  It is important to discuss how we go about something. Exploring the prairies of the western frontier should have been discussed too.  Anyone that objected to slaughtering natives or polluting the land–go sit in a corner–no talking–fascist at work here!

      we have BP spills and wallstreet corruption precisely because thier is no transparency and the people are told to sit in the corner.  With an attitude like that i would sooner remove you from participation–sit you on an asteroid with no oxygen.  the world would be a better place without people against democracy.

  • Susankara

    Why is this not available in Canada? I want to hear it.

    • JamesLavel134

      Use a proxy ip address from the US and you will be able to.

    • CliftonDev

      Same reason that the BBC video broadcast are not available to the US for free. They don’t want to share with us even though we saved their ungrateful bloke asses time and time again.

      • SimonZaiz

        They just want to come over here and become pundits on American politics and society and tell us what we should do. I am totally sick of the British and their condescending attitudes from a third rate power that screwed the pooch in everything they did geopolitically.

        • CliftonDev

          Well there is one consolation. They do offer the world the obscene burlesque of the royal family. That’s always good for a laugh. What a bunch of idiots they are to be proud of and support a family that abused them to the man, in it’s archvainglorious egoism.

        • American Pissant

           how about because whatever america does it effects the world–and so they have  a right.  how about because they are an american ally that works closely with america from trade to war to entertainment.  How stupid would somebody be if they refuse to learn anything form anybody?  how retarded?

      • BerniceAlbumon2

        You know that the Brits call Americans “Yanks” right? But did you know that to them “Yanks” is not short for Yankee? It is the result of that stupid roundabout cockney rhyming slang. In which it stands for cesspool. The reason being that we are a nation of mongols, the cesspool for all the unwanted crap that European nations dumped in America. For real. That is what the British are saying when they call you a Yank: a piece of undifferentiated crap.

      • American Pissant

         you dont know what you are talking about.  I live in china and i have the privilege of listening for free.  Why would you attack Britain for no reason?  When did you save their ass?  from what and who?  If America was under attack for several years and nobody was helping them America would need help as well.  Did you live under power lines?  And being a small nation, an island, Britain can hold its own–tough sonsofbits.  And far more intelligent than the average American.  Where does American hostility toward brits come from–or anyone?  especially when the average American should be riding the short bus to school, drooling and banging his head against the window.  Give a neanderthal a gun and he will do some damage too.  keep in mind, most technology that Americans enjoy came from the minds of European immigrants, from Scottish to Serbian. Americans cant even say they have capability to design superior technology to win wars–cuz it all came from Europeans.  Brits crafted radar, television, the light bulb… and without the french the Brits woudl have crushed the colonial rebellion.  The brits were essentially involved in a world war at the time.  is there anything you can say that makes sense.  The ugly american.  Dumb and oafy.

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    Go. Go. Go.

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    What is the probability of finding out something about the Universe ,while mining asteroids, that we could not find out, otherwise ?

  • C-feickert

    Tom: these guys are nuts-not visionaries.  Where are the journal articles and the demonstrated physic to prove that these ideas are actually going to make financial benefits??  When they say they do not have “all the details” worked out, they really mena that they have not gven this serious thought=period!  Have them give some documentation (not a business prospectus) on the actual physics!!

    • Hwihnj

       You are listening to a tape of a show that happened this morning

    • HummaDay2

      Journal articles to prove financial benefits??  Wow, that would almost sound intelligent, if it made any sense at all. They are not spending your money or tax money, why do you think you have the right to demand anything? If you don’t like the idea, don’t invest your millions in it.

      • Af

         probably because it would tend to give true science a “bad name” in the general public’s view of things-after all, they really do not know very much about anything in detail!

        • Summer2

          Or they didn’t get into details on a show for general audiences.

      • Heaviest Cat

        it’s not just about taxes ,it’s about wealthy cowboys making a profit from something that should be the common good ;SPace.

        • ClementeNine9

          You sound angry.  Do you feel like your parents liked you siblings more than they liked you?  Did you best friend get a pony and you didn’t? You just don’t want anybody to do something that you can’t or what? Because your objections make no sense. You are hopping all around, throwing out nonsense concerns like when the typical liberal talks about gun control and starts talking about assault weapons and what-not, but has no idea what he is talking about. They just don’t like the whole idea of it, so they just spew nonsense.

          • nj_v2

            ^ When one doesn’t have an argument, just resort to pure ad hominem attack.

          • Heaviest Cat

            why would I just “not like the whole ideas of it”

          • American Pissant

             what is a typical liberal?  how do you define liberal?  how do you define gun control?  A hand gun is an assault weapon–period.  it is designed to kill–to execute–to murder. And has no purpose in the hands of civilians.  That’s why we have a police force with weapons–they are properly trained and lawfully responsible (in theory)–tho they actually work for the rich and not the poor–thugs basically! Why are you so afraid fo your fellow citizin?  is it because the media has brainwahsed you for countless years–fear-mongering?
             Why would you bring up gun control when we are talking about space?  republicans always deflect an issue when they are ignorant of the facts.  they cant argu intelligently o they change the subject.  Why do you want a gun unless you want to kill sb–huh Zimmerman?

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Almost ANY location, except maybe the CENTER of a police station, YOU have a corded telephone (the cord can be cut), I have a loaded, cocked, ON Safety handgun, when YOU and I are beseiged by a gang of robbers that will rape us!  WHO will be able to defend us from robbery, rape, beating, and possible death, the fastest and most dependably?

  • nj_v2

    The investors in this lunatic project must have gotten the memo to go and attack anyone who dares question the notion of extending the realm of resource exploitation for private profit to the rest of the solar system.

  • lkjlkjl


  • lkjljlkj


  • Af


  • Johndoe

    yes, I am so happy for all the rich people. They will no doubt profit very well. Seriously though, who cares how all the aristocrats gather their resources and exploit those with none.

    • JinnSing

      And in the subject under discussion just who would be the exploited?

      • Alien Uprising

        taxpayers are the exploited-if there was an accident, American taxpayers will be responsible nt the corporations extracting an unknown quantity–environment–thus impacts are unknown–but we can count on space debris.  And the rich who exploit the poor to ridiculous extremes everyday then laugh and tell us to f off an laugh more why they treat us like criminals and terrorists (irony–they are ruthless nazi criminals)–will use their blood money to extract the resource of space to oppress earthlings and sell the resources back earthlings,getting even richer–widening the gap yet even more–if thats possible–the gap between the rich and poor–the aristocrat and the peasant scum. 

        these resources should be for the good of mankind–distributed thus, and not for corporate gain.  We should have an international space agency–pool resources–and explore space this way–all the same uniforms, under the same command.  A democratic command–direct democracy. 

        i am all for space exploration, and mining meterials as so far as needed for deeper space travel/survival.  but dont think for a second, the earth will cease to be explooited and destroyed under the evil corporate kings.  They said technologies would give us a 4 day week, that certainly didn’t happen.  The earth will continue to die no matter what space resources are mined–and pure alien environments violated, contaminated, and destroyed.  

  • Whoknows

    I will be grabbing my pickaxe and prepare to launch in my expensive spaceship…..ah, the dreams of the

  • nj_v2

    Should have been a guest on the program to counter all the happy exploitation talk:


    Occupy Asteroids? To Boldly Share What No One Has Shared Before

    Indeed, this gets precisely at the perversity of the asteroid-mining plan: it merely continues the same paradigm of extraction and profiteering that has led us to the precipice in the first place. By virtue of their preexisting wealth, certain actors will be able to parlay that into laying claim to space resources that should be the property of no one, or perhaps everyone. This is merely an updated version of the doctrine of “prior appropriation,” which plies the misbegotten logic of “first in time, first in right” to privatize and control resources (like water and minerals) at the expense of common holdings, indigenous peoples, and environmental sustainability all at once.[excerpt]

    • JCD134

      There are no common holdings, indigenous peoples, or environment involved in this potential enterprise. Like all frontiers the people who open them up are given a certain rein at first. Because it is effecatious as regards speed and commensality. Don’t worry there’s room out there for everyone if we get the technology powered up.

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  • Josh

    HA HA HA HA HA. 

    Good luck on this boondoggle.

    It’s takes more energy to escape the gravitational pull then all the minerals you could haul back.

  • Heaviest Cat

    I wish,Peter Dickens, British co-author of “Cosmic SOciety: Towards a Sociology of the Universe”(2009) was a guest on this show.He has an article in the Independent socialistJournal “Monthy Review”(Nov.2010) where he raises the question ,to what end are we” humanizing the Cosmos”?He proposes that we do so in such a way that benefits evrybody, not just economic elites and the military. But then again, that might threaten or simply question the corp. underwriters’ “bottom line’.

  • Osprey808

    Did I hear any sarcasm in Tom’s voice? “What if you bring back some strange space bacteria?…”

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Read the pages BEFORE Chapter 1 of ‘The Andromeda Strain’, by Richard Creighton.  He explains that the U.S. Government asked him to do a novel about the ACTUAL events around a Scoop Satellite return, and the ACTUAL ‘Wildfire’ complex and program.

  • Warren

    Platinum is magmatic.Little is extraterrestial.Same for Peridot

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  • John b

    When Asteroids collide they don;t explode but weld themselves to each other. The light side would be positively charged and the dark side would be negative. You could actually measure these influences and by manipulating your ships magnetic signature pull yourself or the asteroid around. The same could be said of spinning an asteroid. An electric field could be generated.

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