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Comments on Asteroid To Orbit Moon?
'[Asteroid] Eighty-eight received a series of gentle pats, always on the side headed along her course.' - Robert Heinlein, 1939 (Read the complete story)

"Should probably reference the AsterAnts proposal too."
(Ashley 1/8/2013 6:51:50 AM)
"Ashley, thanks - I'd never heard of that proposal. Here is the abstract from the paper you mentioned:

AsterAnts is a concept calling for a fleet of solar sail powered spacecraft to retrieve large numbers of small (1/2-1 meter diameter) Near Earth Objects (NEOs) for orbital processing. AsterAnts could use the International Space Station (ISS) for NEO processing, solar sail construction, and to test NEO capture hardware. Solar sails constructed on orbit are expected to have substantially better performance than their ground built counterparts [Wright 1992]. Furthermore, solar sails may be used to hold geosynchronous communication satellites out-of-plane [Forward 1981] increasing the total number of slots by at least a factor of three, potentially generating $2 billion worth of orbital real estate over North America alone. NEOs are believed to contain large quantities of water, carbon, other life-support materials and metals. Thus, with proper processing, NEO materials could in principle be used to resupply the ISS, produce rocket propellant, manufacture tools, and build additional ISS working space.

Unlike proposals requiring massive facilities, such as lunar bases, before returning any extraterrestrial materials, AsterAnts could conceivably begin operation with a single spacecraft whose payload is no larger than a typical inter-planetary mission. Furthermore, AsterAnts could be scaled up to deliver large amounts of material by building many copies of the same spacecraft, thereby achieving manufacturing economies of scale. Because AsterAnts would capture NEOs whole, NEO composition details, which are generally poorly characterized, are relatively unimportant and no complex extraction equipment is necessary. In combination with a materials processing facility at the ISS, AsterAnts might inaugurate an era of large-scale orbital construction using extraterrestrial materials.
( AsterAnts: A Concept for Large-Scale Meteoroid Return and Processing )

Also, I found a good set of slides by the same authors; see AsterAnts."
(Bill Christensen 1/8/2013 8:12:53 AM)

"Nice. I'd not seen the slides before, just the pdf of the proposal. And interesting details of one of the possible methods of making the solar sails in orbit. (Eric Drexler, of nanotech fame, invented a automated continuous thin-film vapor-deposition device, for use in space, which could easily do what was required for AsterAnts)"
(Ashley 1/10/2013 5:03:51 PM)

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