Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The NEW Space Race is about to begin

I have for some time been saying that the next phase of space exploration will be one of resource development. It is not much harder to go to the asteroids than it is to go to the moon or the other planets. The hard part is getting out of Earth's gravity well, once there the fuel required to go elsewhere is virtually negligible. It is quite literally "raining soup" in space. Virtually every valuable natural resource exists in undreamed abundance just outside our gravity well. Gold, Hydrocarbons, Iron, Nickel, Chromium, Aluminum, Carbon, even nuclear materials like Thorium and Uranium are all out there in abundance. 60% of all the Nickel ever mined on this planet came from an ancient asteroid impact near Sudbury Ontario Canada. And that was just one medium sized asteroid. Any country that had access to that much mineral wealth would quite literally P0WN the rest of the planet. They could corner the market and control the market price simply by controlling the amount of the mineral in question that was available at any given time. The technology to do this exists and has existed for some time, but until now there has not been the political will to apply it.

That is about to change.

Russia has announced plans to intercept and deflect an earth orbit crossing asteroid, Apophis, purportedly to prevent it from impacting earth at some later date, possibly 2029, 2032, 2036, or 2068. in 2029 it will approach within 18300 miles of earth. But here is the fact of the matter, it is just as easy to deflect the asteroid as it is to put it in high earth orbit. The Russians are mum on this, after all it would be a violation of the UN treaty on Outer Space to do such a thing, and they certainly don't want or need competition for their plans, but mark my words, this is exactly their plan. They have already cornered the European market for Natural gas and have had no compunction about cutting off the spigot if their price isn't met.

But it will only be a race if someone else steps up and challenges them. Will it be us? Or will the next planetary super power speak Russian or Chinese or Indian?

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