Asteroid Exploration And Utilization By George Botbyl
1644 Words7 Pages
The Earth is nearing depletion of its natural resources at a time when human beings are rapidly expanding the frontiers of space. The resources which may exist on asteroids could have enormous potential for aiding and enhancing human space exploration as well as life on Earth. With the possibly limitless opportunities that exist, it is clear that asteroids are the next step for human existence in space. The resources of the Earth are not infinite, in fact, some are depletable within the next several decades. Once high grade reserves are used up, low grades ores will have to be used. These effects of using low grade ores on the environment and society were discussed in the article “Asteroid Exploration and Utilization” by George Botbyl as a cycle of negative consequences which build upon each other. In order to protect Earth, the next 25 years must bring a new era in space development. Even presidential policy confirms that the United States of America is committed to the establishment of a permanent human presence in space.
The earliest studies of asteroid mining proposed retrieving a main belt asteroid. Because of the very long travel times to the main asteroid belt, attention has shifted to the asteroids whose orbits bring them fairly close to the Earth. In these schemes, the asteroids would be bagged and then processed during the return trip, with the asteroid itself providing the reaction mass to propel the mission homeward. A mission to one of these near-Earth