Our April 18 meeting will feature Dr. Peter Swan, who was one of our SpaceUp participants. At our next meeting, he will talk about the International Academy of Astronautics recent three year study that has taken on the challenge of understanding the opportunities and concerns of mining the solar system. The report will show the following conclusions:
•The exploitation of space mineral resources is becoming a commercial space endeavor for the benefit of humanity and profit
•The question on the table is not “how” to leverage space minerals resources; but, ”how best” to leverage them
•Preliminary economic conclusions include (1) architectures based upon returning precious metals to terrestrial markets alone appears to be a non-starter, (2) the existence of in-space customers for propellants, consumables, structural materials, and shielding could make asteroid mining economically feasible, and (3) longer-term hybrid architectures with both terrestrial and in-space customers could become feasible as costs drop and market size increases.
Dr. Swan will explain the approach to the study and layout out a potential future for space exploration that will include mining the resources available above low Earth orbit.