The Instigator
lannan13
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Ore_Ele
Con (against)
Winning
23 Points

can we mine astriods

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
Ore_Ele
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/6/2011 Category: Science
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,421 times Debate No: 19701
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (5)

 

lannan13

Pro

The United States Federal Government should substantaly increase exploration and/or developement of space by mining astriods. 1 We'll use the Orion Rocket. 2 we will mine the Earth's Trojan Astriods. 3 it'll cost 170 million. 4 we will use NASA. 5 we will get funds by reallocating NASA existing budget.
Ore_Ele

Con

I thank my opponent for an interesting debate topic.

I would like to first point out a few things and a few questions before allowing my opponent to begin his argument.

1) This debate is only about mining the Trojan asteroids around Earth and does not include the mining of any other asteroids. These asteroids are a collection of asteroids that gather at the L4 and L5 points of orbit [1].

2) The Orion rocket is not sufficient to harvest any materials from the L4 and L5 points of orbit, because it does not leave the Earth's atmosphere and usually only stays up for a few minutes (Orion isn't the first guy to have that problem) [2]

3) My opponent is going to need to show that this would only cost $170 million as that seems incredibly low.

I will allow my opponent to make his argument now.

Thank you,

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.californiasciencecenter.org...
Debate Round No. 1
lannan13

Pro

Hayabusa, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) spacecraft, is expected to return the first asteroid materials to Earth.65 (The European Space Agency (ESA) is planning a similar mission.66) Nearly 1,000 near-Earth asteroids have been identified that are easier to reach than the moon (requiring a lower delta-V).67 Thousands more of these �€œvery near-Earth asteroids�€� (VNEAs) are expected to be identified in the next 10-20 years, as new sky-survey telescopes (Pan-STARRS and the LSST68) register 500,000 NEAs.69 With the Hayabusa, JAXA has shown, at a cost of �€œabout $170 million,�€�70 that asteroid materials can be reached and returned to Earth. The number of potential targets is now increasing exponentially. Fine, but is there demand for these materials? Yes, quite a bit.
So JAXA has done it to proove that we can do it for 170 million. But to save your breath of what I would be reallocating.
We will reallocate $170 million from NASA's existing budget by taking $100 million from the exploration research and development department, $43 million from the education fund, and $27 million from the space technology fund. Next you would say isn't there health risks such as radiation in space? well the Orion (which NASA has tested) uses full radioactive proof amour. 2nd they'd be in the Orion not on the astriod with pickaxes. 3rd in order for a radiocative defect to actually work there would need to be a solar flare which by the way happens every 10 years. Astriods contain silicon, gold, platinum, and every other rare earth metal or REMs to be found on Earth. I proudly await the Negs. response.
Ore_Ele

Con

Despite my opponent not providing sources, I will accept the $170 million price tag for the Hayabusa mission.

As such, let me point a few things out. The $170 million was for the single launch, meaning that every trip up into space to go mining is going to cost $170 million. It should also be noted that the Hayabusa was launched May of 2003 and returned June 2010, taking a little over 7 years [1]. It should also be noted that it only recovered 1,500 grains of rock [2], far less than 1/10 microgram of total mass (this is due to a malfunctioning projectile gun). However, even if everything worked perfectly, it would at most, only gather "several hundred milligrams of material if the sampling procedure went as planned" [2].

So the question becomes, should Nasa spend $170 million dollars to mine less than 1 gram (the mass of a single skittle) of metal?

A quick look at current market prices shows that no metal is worth that much [3], as such, it is a bad investment that should not be undertaken.

Thank you,

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.spaceflightnow.com...
[3] http://www.kitco.com...
Debate Round No. 2
lannan13

Pro

Some day, the platinum, cobalt and other valuable elements from asteroids may even be returned to Earth for profit. At 1997 prices, a relatively small metallic asteroid with a diameter of 1.6 km (0.99 mi) contains more than 20 trillion US dollars worth of industrial and precious metals.[1][2] In fact, all the gold, cobalt, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium, ruthenium and tungsten that we now mine from the Earth's crust, and that are essential for economic and technological progress, came originally from the rain of asteroids that hit the Earth after the crust cooled.[3][4][5] This is because, while asteroids and the Earth congealed from the same starting materials, Earth's massive gravity pulled all such siderophilic (iron loving) elements into the planet's core during its molten youth more than four billion years ago[
Economic analyses generally show that asteroid mining will not attract private investment at current commodity prices and space transportation costs.[12] However, based on known terrestrial reserves and growing consumption in developing countries, there is speculation that key elements needed for modern industry, including antimony, zinc, tin, silver, lead, indium, gold, and copper, could be exhausted on Earth within 50-60 years
http://en.wikipedia.org...
Ore_Ele

Con

As this debate draws to a close, I'd like to point out that even though the title of the debate is "can we mine asteroids," Pro placed the resolution in his OP, saying, "The United States Federal Government should substantaly increase exploration and/or developement of space by mining astriods."

My opponent has pointed to how much wealth there is in asteroids, however, he has not defended any claims about the shear cost of mining them.

As it was pointed out in my R2, it cost $170 million to mine less than 1 gram of an asteroid. My opponent completely ignored that. While there are trillions of dollars in asteroids, it would cost millions upon billions of trillions (and any other -illions we can think of) to mine it. This shows that it is highly un-profitable. My opponent has presented no other reasons (like for academia or scientific purposes) to mine other than their value. Clearly the value is too costly so the resolution is negated.

Thank you,
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by caveat 5 years ago
caveat
http://science.slashdot.org...

Good start? :D
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
We need to build a Red Dwarf.
Posted by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
Its absolutely true that there is a huge up front cost, but it is also true that it could be extremely profitable in the long run.

The cost is only prohibitively expensive for private entities. The U.S. government could easily set up a space mining program, if the political capital existed. But you are right that it doesnt, and probably wont exist for a long time.
Posted by Chrysippus 5 years ago
Chrysippus
The real advantage to mining asteroids isn't necessarily the value of he materials themselves; it's the location. Most of the valuable asteroids (as opposed to those that are just rock or gravel) are made of carbon or iron compounds, potentially useful in construction of structures and vessels.

The cost for space exploration is heavily front loaded because every ounce you bring from earth must be fought into space against the Earth's gravity; massive space-going vessels with the radiation shielding to allow for permanent habitation are prohibitively expensive if all the materials came from Earth.

Setting up a factory in the Belt which mines, refines, and processes large amounts of crude materials for the structure and hull of these vessels may save immense amounts of money. There isn't a demand for it now, nor the political capital to back it; so it's just a pipe dream.
Posted by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
Well this is just one plan text among many under the topic of "increase space exploration and development"

Plus the plan wasnt run correctly. Most asteroid mining plans have a ton of evidence saying that funding research programs now is key to being the first country with mining capability, which links to all sorts of stuff like U.S. hegemony and avoiding resource wars. The advantages are huge (imagine if the US was the only country with access to semiconductors or metals needed for weapons development) but the downside is that the timeframe is long.
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
Really? This is such a one-sided topic. I could imagine seeing something like taking asteroids, altering their course and smashing them into the earth and mining from the crater as plasuable, but not mining directly from the asteroid.
Posted by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
LOL this is either the policy debate topic this or it was the topic last year.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
lannan13Ore_EleTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Con's arguments were reasonable and largely unchallenged. His sources were appropriate and his text was far easier to read.
Vote Placed by Chrysippus 5 years ago
Chrysippus
lannan13Ore_EleTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's proposed cost to mine is far too low, and Con pointed this out clearly. Weak arguments by Pro, poor spelling and grammar, and virtually no sources; everything but conduct goes to Con.
Vote Placed by vmpire321 5 years ago
vmpire321
lannan13Ore_EleTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: PRO's case was that there were valuable minerals on asteroids... However CON showed that it would be too expensive and inefficient to mine these resources. CON wins ... Good debate guys.
Vote Placed by caveat 5 years ago
caveat
lannan13Ore_EleTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro fails to show that mining the Trojan Asteroids would result in a net fiscal benefit, while Con did well to prove the contrary. Pro's third round is a direct copy from the Wikipedia page without a single word from himself. Debates are against people and their arguments, not sources.
Vote Placed by Raisor 5 years ago
Raisor
lannan13Ore_EleTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Most of PRo's case was showing that there are valuable minerals on asteroids. Con did a very effective job of showing it would cost 130 million and seven years to return even a gram of precious metal. Also, F-Spec is abusive, Pro.