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Thread: What great things will be enabled if SpaceX succeeds with reusable rockets?

  1. #1 What great things will be enabled if SpaceX succeeds with reusable rockets? 
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    I'd like to get the topic started, I have a few ideas to share here, feel free to either discuss them or bring your ideas/bestguess.
    For info, Elon Musk was quoted saying reusable rockets could eventually divide by 100 the price/kg to send stuff in orbit. That won't happen overnight I suppose due to insurances, and taking time to prove it's reliable and quick.
    Am I the only one to think this is a huge step for mankind if successful?

    Refueling orbital station anyone? Use minimal fuel to orbit to maximize payload, refuel, go to Mars easier or anywhere else.
    Building spacecraft in orbit, piece by piece? It's already been done overtime with the ISS but this could go much faster/further. If Mars colonization becomes a real thing, this could allow for exemple large spacecraft shuttles between earth orbit and mars orbit, refueling and constantly ferrying stuff.
    I had a couple others ideas but they can wait.
    Spacejunk will probably have to be kept under control somehow or it could become real bad real fast with so much material in space.

    What other exciting things do you think we can expect?


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    It will open the possibility of mining the moon for energy to private companies.


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    Mining ought to be a fairly big one too, asteroid can be pretty rich in rare materials I hear.
    However, I'm not aware of the moon being so interesting for energy mining, can you specify?
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    Oh right, fusion material, thanks. Well, I'm fairly excited for fusion too but it's sadly not quite there yet. That's another topic I'm quite curious about.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Asteroids are made of rock and metal and broken away pieces of planets. They are grouped into three categories: Stony, Iron-Nickel, and a mixture of the two. Most asteroids that we know about fall into the first category, and are made of Silicates. A small percentage are Iron-Nickel. The rest form the third type.

    Ever hear of any meteorites that had anything other than iron, nickle or stone? Every meteorite I've ever seen is usually nickle or iron, iron being the most abundant. So the cost of going out and mining an asteroid would be very high but the material that would be mined would be of little value. Same with the moon, not much there from the rock samples brought back to Earth.
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    Well, I've read a few articles, which mean I don't know much, but I've seen reference to high concentration of things like platinum, diamonds etc... Since asteroids can be scanned for content from afar, you just need to find a good one out of billions here and there to make it worthwhile.

    According to Planetary Resources, “In space, a single platinum-rich 500 meter wide asteroid contains about 174 times the yearly world output of platinum, and 1.5 times the known world-reserves of platinum group metals (ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum).”
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ximlab View Post
    Am I the only one to think this is a huge step for mankind if successful?
    It will be pretty important.
    What other exciting things do you think we can expect?
    Space tourism/life extension. There are a few diseases (degenerative heart disease for example) which means death here on Earth - but being in orbit could extend your life a few decades since your heart has to do very little work to pump blood in zero-G. Arthritis? Paraplegia? Much less of an issue in zero-G. Living longer, more interesting lives is something that rich people are willing to pay millions for, so that would likely be one of the first applications of "cheap" space travel.
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  10. #9  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ximlab View Post
    Well, I've read a few articles, which mean I don't know much, but I've seen reference to high concentration of things like platinum, diamonds etc... Since asteroids can be scanned for content from afar, you just need to find a good one out of billions here and there to make it worthwhile.

    According to Planetary Resources, “In space, a single platinum-rich 500 meter wide asteroid contains about 174 times the yearly world output of platinum, and 1.5 times the known world-reserves of platinum group metals (ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum).”
    Again I ask you to show us where ANY meteorite that has been found here on Earth had any precious metals or jewels in it. I do not think you will find anything so again I say that there's no FACT proving there's anything in a asteroid other than iron, nickle and rocks. Since humans have not mined a asteroid how does the scientists know what's inside of a large floating rock, well they cannot. We can only see what lands here on Earth to know what they are made of at this time.
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    Well I'm no astrophysicist but I believe things like spectrometer allows you to detect concentration of elements.
    Also, I've just quoted one source, which may or may not be solid, I don't talk with a high degree of confidence on this.

    "On earth" meteorite are a tiny sample of mostly tiny rocks compared to the solar system and asteroid belt. I'm not sure our earth-found materials contradicts the possibility that rare asteroids could be very valuable. It does somewhat prove that most asteroids fit in the categories you described.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Ximlab View Post
    Well, I've read a few articles, which mean I don't know much, but I've seen reference to high concentration of things like platinum, diamonds etc... Since asteroids can be scanned for content from afar, you just need to find a good one out of billions here and there to make it worthwhile.

    According to Planetary Resources, “In space, a single platinum-rich 500 meter wide asteroid contains about 174 times the yearly world output of platinum, and 1.5 times the known world-reserves of platinum group metals (ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum).”
    Again I ask you to show us where ANY meteorite that has been found here on Earth had any precious metals or jewels in it. I do not think you will find anything so again I say that there's no FACT proving there's anything in a asteroid other than iron, nickle and rocks. Since humans have not mined a asteroid how does the scientists know what's inside of a large floating rock, well they cannot. We can only see what lands here on Earth to know what they are made of at this time.

    Here's a site that give the relative abundances of elements found in meteorites.

    Abundance in Meteorites for all the elements in the Periodic Table

    If you go to, for instance, Gold, you will find that it has a relative abundance of 0.000017% or 0.17ppm

    Now while this might not seem like much, the relative abundance of Gold in the Earth's crust is only 0.0031ppm.
    For Silver, the ratio is 0.14ppm to 0.08ppm

    for Titanium, it is close to a wash.

    Of course, these numbers are slightly skewed due to the fact that the relative abundances of elements vary by the type of meteorite, and more iron meteorites are found than stoney. But even then, it seems reasonable to assume from these numbers that meteoroids and asteroids would still contain a fair amount of these metals.
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  13. #12  
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    Extra terrestrial mining could completely eliminate the ecologically damaging terrestrial mining currently being practiced.
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
    Lucky me. Lucky mud.
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    The space shuttle employed reusable rockets -- on the shuttle itself. And the solid fuel boosters were reusable. What new technical territory is SpaceX entering? Other than doing it as a non-government, private corporation, heavily funded by NASA?
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    Extra terrestrial mining could completely eliminate the ecologically damaging terrestrial mining currently being practiced.
    So could using recycleable material.
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    Extra terrestrial mining could completely eliminate the ecologically damaging terrestrial mining currently being practiced.
    So could using recycleable material.
    Even if recycling can't meet global demand, it is still dumb to not recycle. Regardless of material sources.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    It will open the possibility of mining the moon for energy to private companies.

    LOL how would you transfer usable energy from mars to the earth?
    Newbie to Science, trying to educate myself on this forum and further my scientific knowledge.

    I like to ask a ton of questions so please be understanding!

    I like to think of new stuff and in new ways.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScienceNoob View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    It will open the possibility of mining the moon for energy to private companies.

    LOL how would you transfer usable energy from mars to the earth?
    I have no idea how usable energy could be imported from Mars.
    I only pointed out that the Moon might be exploitable for energy.
    (LOL)
    Why would you expect Mars to have exploitable energy sources?
    (LOL)
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    Even if recycling can't meet global demand, it is still dumb to not recycle. Regardless of material sources.
    Maybe if primary production is cheaper than recycling it makes more sense to fill up our dumps with extracted resources while it is still cheap to extract them.
    Then if resource extraction becomes expensive we will have stockpiles of metal, plastic and paper to process as replacement material for the primary resources we are no longer able to cheaply extract, all nice and conveniently located on the surface and close to major population centers.
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  20. #19  
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    Even if recycling can't meet global demand, it is still dumb to not recycle. Regardless of material sources.
    Maybe if primary production is cheaper than recycling it makes more sense to fill up our dumps with extracted resources while it is still cheap to extract them.
    Then if resource extraction becomes expensive we will have stockpiles of metal, plastic and paper to process as replacement material for the primary resources we are no longer able to cheaply extract, all nice and conveniently located on the surface and close to major population centers.
    Um yea, these repositories of used decaying goods could double as playgrounds for the children of the poor.
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantEvil View Post
    Um yea, these repositories of used decaying goods could double as playgrounds for the children of the poor.
    That is a good idea, and they already do in many places.
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