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Martian and Lunar Steel Mills

Plow some asteroids onto Mars and the Moon
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Take some of the expended rocket boosters that are floating around in orbit, take them over to the the Low Orbit Garage, dismantle them and head on out to the Asteroid Belt, bring some extra gas, you can probably find a couple of useable tanks up there, and bolt them to a choice asteroid. Some of these babies are almost solid iron and nickel, others are rumored to contain diamonds. Figure out the entry points, speeds and trajectories, insert them into the Martian or Lunar gravitaional field, and then look out below. Whack off a hunk and toss it a smelter. Start small, and progressively build larger steel mills, you'll have the raw materials.
ty6, Sep 09 2002

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       You mean no one suggested solar power? ;)
Mr Burns, Sep 09 2002

       Getting rocket fuel up there might be hazardous. Would be better to use an ion drive. Purely electric. Grind up some of the useless rock into fine powder and use that for reaction mass. You don't get an incredibly powerful thrust, but unless you're trying to get out of a gravity well, or going for overnight delivery, you don't need that much power.
StarChaser, Sep 11 2002

       all of these ways of finding better fuels are noble, but seemingly unnecessary. part of the reason space launches are expensive is because of the cost of fuel and materials. find a way to reduce the costs using the same fuels and materials and your problems are greatly alleviated without alot of rocket science. the u.s. government could offer tax breaks to suppliers to provide the stuff at cost. though the government takes a hit when it collects revenue, it's out of pocket expenses upfront are greatly reduced. then it wouldnt be so expensive to send truly enough stuff into space to really start doing something. i would rather have a thousand people up there with lots of materials to use to get started than a few people with little to start with. finding ways to survive up there and mine wouldnt be as much of an issue if we could simply get lots of infrastructure and supplies up there to begin with from the start. also, couldnt an underground cave system on mars or the moon or wherever be found, sealed and infused with oxygen and other necessary gases? i would think a small cave network reinforced from the inside and the inner walls coated with some material that would seal it (some space age plastic that can be sprayed on then harden?) then inner chambers be built so if one area is compromised the rest is safe? i would think reiforcing some existing structure and building within it would be easier than building a freestanding structure, plus you would be more protected from space debris. also, why focus so much on mining from the first planet to get a base? why not give it constant supplies from earth and simply use it as a staging point to send other missions elsewhere a little further out? my only fear would be that over time (many years, if not hundreds of years) enough materials might leave earth to reduce its gravitational pull, which could cause us to drift slightly from the sun and endure harsh winters. we think its a long way off, but that's what ancient people would have said about people of today.
junkmail, Dec 22 2002

       I like this idea. I'm sure as soon as we start colonizing these planets, there will be some kind of processing of the ores that are mined. Adding space junk & meteors to the mix would solve at least one problem.
the great unknown, Jan 09 2007

       Wouldn't it be better to build the refinery on the asteroid, and as [Starchaser] suggests, use the waste ore as reaction mass to get the goodies to where they're needed?
BunsenHoneydew, Jan 11 2007


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