Thursday, January 24, 2013
It doesn't take back-of-envelope calculations to figure out that asteroid mining is unlikely. The cost of building deep-space equipment, ferrying it from earth to an asteroid, landing it, mining, transporting material to an in-space processing plant that needs to be built and making something useful is science fiction at this point in time. That is why companies announcing asteroid mining efforts are engaged in hype. That they get media attention says something about reporters and editors. Having written this, it is fair to say the news media have missed breakthroughs in the past because of disbelief. While the Wright Brothers were testing their plane outside of Dayton, the local newspaper never sent a reporter to see what they were doing, yet the pasture from which they were flying was next to a main road. Deep-space mining, however, is not nearly as believable as flying a heavier-than-air machine. There are plenty of causes and efforts worthy of media attention that get little. One wonders why hucksters are successful, and serious scientists aren't.