LPL Colloquium: Dr. Robert Jedicke

First Steps on the Path to Asteroid Mining

Dr. Robert Jedicke
Specialist, Solar System Bodies
University of Hawaii, Institute for Astronomy

First Steps on the Path to Asteroid Mining

Mining asteroids for raw materials to support both human and robotic space exploration could become reality in the near future, and asteroid-derived water may be the first commercially viable resource. Water can be used directly in modern steam-powered spacecraft engines or converted efficiently into liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen bipropellant fuel. Mining the most accessible near-Earth asteroids could be a cost-effective approach because they contain available and exploitable extraterrestrial material that is delivered to the inner solar system by gravitational perturbations from the planets, they have been naturally preprocessed into objects the ideal size for industrial operations, and they contain critical materials for cost-effective self-sustaining activities in space. I will describe our recent work on estimating the number of water-bearing low delta-v near-Earth asteroids, the development of moderate fidelity continuous-thrust trajectories to a synthetic population, building a miniature flight-ready asteroid mining spacecraft, and our vision and progress on developing a space-based survey to identify promising asteroid targets.

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Thursday, April 14, 2022 - 3:45pm