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MINING

in zero

gravity

MFA DEGREE PROJECT 2018 ADVANCED PRODUCT DESIGN Anders Sandstrรถm With all of the challenges facing the mining industry today, what would it be like if we look to the stars for our future mining prospects?

2018

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ABSTRACT

Regardless of new mining technologies and environmental regulations, the minerals we extract from the earth’s crust will eventually run out. Likewise, our society demands a constant increase of technology to improve our quality of life. Mining in Zero Gravity is a speculative design project that offers a vision of our first attempt at mining platinum group metals from asteroids by the year 2040. Kolibri is designed within the boundaries of the future challenges facing the mining industry and the development of our space industry.

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MAIN SPONSOR

Epiroc has a market-leading position as a supplier for rock excavation equipment, with 140 years of experience of innovating for sustainable productivity. After having worked and interned at their industrial design competence center, I know that they have an extensive knowledge in everything concerning the mining industry.

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INDEX

INTRODUCTION

01

08 Mining in Space? 10 Challenges In Mining 12 Designing Space Mining

IDEATION

03

INITIAL RESEARCH

02

4

16 Challenges In Mining 18 Future of Terrestrial Mining 20 Why Mine the Sky? 22 What Can We Expect to Find? 24 When Can This Happen? 26 How Will This Happen? 28 Why Platinum? 30 An Ocean of Research Papers 32 Interview with Adam Schilffarth 34 Premise 35 Goals & Wishes 36 Conclusions

40 Workshop at Epiroc 42 Constraints 44 Layout: Concept 1 46 Layout: Concept 2 48 Layout: Concept 3 50 Layout: Concept 4 52 Maintenance & Repair 54 Extraction 56 Return

EVALUATION

04

60 Concept Evaluation 62 Chosen Concepts 64 Needed Parts 66 Product Journey


CONCEPTUALIZE

05

70 Mood Board 72 Sketching

REFLECTIONS & CONCLUSIONS

07

112 Goals & Wishes Fulfillment 113 Work Process 114 References 116 Schedule

RESULT

06

76 The Spacecraft 78 Launch 80 In orbit 82 Departure 84 Arrival 86 Touch down 88 Mining 90 3D printed containers 92 Return 94 Layout 96 Anatomy 98 Repair from Earth 100 Exhibition 102 Physical Model 104 Renderings

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01 6

INTRODUCTION


7 Pixabay, - [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.pexels.com/photo/art-astronomy-atmosphere-aurora-270829/ [Accessed 18 July 2018].


INTRODUCTION

MINING IN SPACE? Regardless of new mining technologies and environment regulations, the minerals we extract from the earth’s crust will eventually run out. One alternative is to look towards the stars for our future resources. Perhaps mining asteroids will be common within our society; perhaps it will be a stepping-stone between current and future technologies? Regardless we will most likely have to look off-planet for our material needs in the future.

ASTEROIDS According to Planetary Resources, there are more than 16.000 near earth asteroids that contain the same minerals as our planet. Some also contain frozen water, which could be used to produce spacecraft propellant for further space exploration and sustain human life. It is estimated that an asteroid the size of a football field can contain more platinum than we have ever been able to extract from the earth throughout the history of mankind. There are an enormous amount of resources floating in space. What kind of effect would that have on our society? Will precious metals become commonplace and allow a huge technological burst in developing countries? If we mine off-planet will it help our world to recover from damages in the ecosystems? What would this mining process look like and what would it mean for a company like Epiroc? Most of all, how could industrial design play a vital role in this grand endeavor? At this point it is too early to speculate on what kind of product could come out of this project. It could be anything from a wearable, mode of transportation, exploration and excavation. There are a lot of possible product solutions and I intend to find one where my skill set as an industrial designer will be most suitable.

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9 NASA, (2015), Scandinavia at Night [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/top-15-earth-images-of-2015 [Accessed 18 July 2018].


Introduction

CHALLENGES IN MINING PRODUCTIVITY AND DEMAND Most of the easily accessible high-grade ores on the planet are on the verge of running out1. We have built our civilization on the minerals that we extract from the earth’s crust and we use them in every aspect of our lives. Demand for the main metals that modern society needs to produce goods has increased dramatically over the past few decades, thereby increasing the extraction to meet this demand. As an example, the cost of producing copper has risen 300% in the last 15 years, while ore grade has dropped 30% and demand has doubled2. Mining companies are forced to dig deeper where minerals are more and more scarce and at the same time keep the operations profitable. Also by digging deeper and deeper the hotter the temperatures. We are now on the verge of reaching depths where mines become a hostile environment for human life.

SUSTAINABILITY Our society is becoming more aware of the impact our industrial processes have on our planet and its climate. This has lead to stricter environmental regulations for the mining industry. Mining processes produce large volumes of waste, some of it highly toxic. This waste can result in acid mine drainage and groundwater contamination. Other problems include erosion, formation of sinkholes, loss of biodiversity, and contamination of soil and surface water by chemicals from mining processes3.

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Meeting the increasing demands for metals also makes the mining industry one of the most energy-intensive industrial sectors. According to the International Energy Agency, between 8% and 10% of the world total energy consumption is dedicated to the extraction of materials that the society demands, and that number does not take into account metallurgical processes, transport and other mining-related activities. Despite stricter regulations mining has a detrimental effect on our environment and seems like it always will. At least as long as we continue to mine our own home world.

RELEVANCE This is relevant for society since the current mining industry is on a downward slope. While ore grades are declining, costs are increasing and the ecological impact getting more severe, demand is steadily increasing. Our society is increasingly dependent on a functioning mining industry, so what happens when it no longer functions? Mining in space will become our only way forward if we intend to continue developing our society with the same materials as today.


11 Mariusz Prusaczyk, - [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.pexels.com/photo/above-activity-aerial-colors-288096/ [Accessed 18 July 2018].


Introduction

DESIGNING SPACE MINING Some people become doctors or nurses, some become police officers or firefighters. Some of the most skilled people choose their profession based on empathy. That is why I became an industrial designer; empathy. I may not be able to perform surgery and I don’t think I’m cut out to handle what a police officer goes through, but industrial design is my way of contributing to our society and the people around us. The reason I chose space mining for my masters thesis is that it aligns very well with my design philosophy. Forward thinking ideas and projects that look long-term within future scenarios fascinate me. The idea of mining in space may seem far-fetched, but when thinking of how our mining operations are affecting our planet and our finite resources, mining in space is likely to become a necessity.

As an industrial designer I see it as my job to put the user in the forefront and design solutions based on our practical and emotional needs. What would it mean for the miner who is working in zero gravity far away from home or perhaps the miner on earth controlling advanced machinery across vast distances in space? What would it mean for our society to have access to such vast amounts of resources as well as a stepping-stone for further space exploration? My hope is to show what space mining can look like, using human-centered design to make people think and talk about how this future scenario might effect all of us, and even become reality.

PROCURER X02 This is the result of a 50 hour assignment during my summer internship at Atlas Copco in 2014. The brief was to design a future vision for Atlas Copco where the end result is a detailed rendering of the product. I created the PROCURER X02, which is a space plane running on silicone oil. It’s purpose was to approach asteroids, bolt itself into its surface and tow it into a stable orbit closer to earth. The wings fold out to become solar panels and its fuselage serves as infrastructure for further mining operations when the asteroid is in place. I have always been interested in space travel and mining in space. This was just a quick and rather fictional attempt. I see my thesis as an opportunity to be able to really dig in to the subject and come out with a product solution that is inspirational yet anchored in facts and the latest research.

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13


02 14

RESEARCH


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CHALLENGES in mining

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RESOURCE AVAILABILITY

REGULATION

PROCESS CONTROL

With most of the easily-accessible high grade ores almost tapped out, companies are faced with the challenge of either mining low grade ore bodies or mining in difficult or remote regions.1

As the regulations governing the disposal of mining waste materials become stricter, elemental analysis is becoming more important in the effort to reduce the release of harmful chemicals.1

Mining companies must employ a constant raw material analysis to ensure accurate process control. This is due to the fact that if the composition of the ore body changes, the extraction process will have to be changed quickly as well.1


AGING WORKFORCE

WATER STRESS

INNOVATION

2019 US mining industry will need almost 80,000 extra replacement workers due to retirement. In the end, the key objective for this industry is to present itself as an attractive and exciting for career development.4

Water has always been crucial for the mining industry and its importance is increasing exponentially. Mining uses 1% of the total industry water usage and some mines occur in areas under “water stress�. More strict regulations will ask for better water footprint monitoring, quality control reporting, contamination control and mine closure strategy.4

Innovation is a critical theme for miners. However, many mining companies remain at the early stage of the adoption curve - placing most of their innovation focus on technological optimization of old techniques rather than looking for new ways to configure and engage externally.5

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FUTURE OF TERRESTRIAL MINING

REGULATION

FINANCE

PEOPLE

Increased public awareness of environmental issues reflects in a rise of environmental and noise regulations. Third world countries tighten up the regulations to catch up. How will this affect mining on or off-planet in the future?6

Due to increasing scarcity of resources the profit margin for mines narrows. Mines must now dig deeper and use more sophisticated equipment to extract less ore than they used to. What will a future mining operation look like?6

Today the mining work force faces a generation shift. More people live in urban areas than ever before. What will the future miner look like? Where and how will she or he like to work?6

NON-MINERS ENTERS THE BUSINESS

TRUST & TRANSPARENCY

TECHNOLOGY

With end consumers being more interested and able to track the provenance of the material of their goods, the most transparent and well behaved mining companies becomes the most successful. Depending on the level of trust, mining companies will either be ruled by third party oversight or trusted to govern themselves.7

A long-time stagnation in development can result in a “frog leap�. Tougher competition can segment the mining market. If that happens, the need for integration and cooperation between different systems can become increasingly stronger.

While miners struggle, others seize the opportunity. Big brand technology businesses acquire mining portfolios to deliver on a brand promise that the minerals that go into their products are produced responsibly. They have a lot of capital and access to cutting edge technologies.7

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BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY Blockchain technology will allow consumers to verify the provenance of the raw materials in their products. Discerning consumers are increasingly interested in the provenance of their products and are prepared to pay for it. Geo-tagged cubic meters of ore could also be digitally traded with before it has even been mined out of the ground.7

DRONES Drones are used to quickly map new mine areas, analyze mineral samples in real time, and optimize haul routes. They detect erosion, track changes in vegetation, and search for defects in mining infrastructure that may endanger the environment. They’re used for many of the high-risk jobs, such as transporting hazardous waste to dedicated storage facilities or checking for chemical contamination.7

AUTOMATION Automation is of high interest in the mining business. They could safeguard productivity by eliminating human errors, operate in high risk environments and operate in mines that are now too deep to support human life.7

3D PRINTING Spare parts can be created on the spot to maintain mining machinery, without the hassle of ordering and shipping and less halts in production. This can also enable mining operations in hard to reach areas where mines would need to be more self sufficient.7

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why mine the sky?

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EXPAND HUMANITIES PRESENCE IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM

A RENAISSANCE IN ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY

By developing new technologies to be able to reach asteroids and the vast resources they contain, we would most likely see a further expanse of the human race in to the solar system.8

Platinum group metals are not only used for jewelry because of their luster. They are also important for our computer technology because of their unique characteristics. With access to these metals we could potentially see a renaissance in advanced technology on earth. Not only in the developed world but in developing countries as well.8

FUELING STATIONS IN ORBIT FOR FUTURE SPACE MISSIONS

VAST ACCESS TO RESOURCES WITHOUT DAMAGING THE EARTH

Since there would be no need to bring enormous amounts of fuel into space, it will be much easier to launch vehicles in to orbit. This will lead to greater possibilities to explore other planets in our solar system, and perhaps even colonize them. It will also usher in a new business with a lot of potential for profit.8

When we can obtain our much needed resources from space, there will be no need to risk the environment on our own planet to access them. We will see eco systems beginning to restore themselves and greater access to fresh water for other uses then mining.8


WHERE ARE THESE ASTEROIDS? ASTEROIDS In 1997 we were aware of about 33,000 asteroids in our solar system. In the past three decades that number has increased enormously. In 2013 we had found 594,705 asteroids. This number keeps increasing since we are finding about 50 new asteroids every day.8

NEO Even though that sounds like a lot, most of them are within the asteroid belt that stretches between

Mars and Jupiter, which is pretty far away. However, around 10,000 of these asteroids are what we call Near Earth Objects, or NEOs. These objects has an orbit which takes them very close to our earth, even closer to us than our moon. This means that they are easier to reach then the moon, a place that we have already visited repeatedly. The possibility of reaching them does not seem so far fetched.

T H E S O L A R S YS T E M

THE A

A NE

STEROID BELT

RE

A RT H O B J E

CT

≈ 600,000 Asteroids

S

≈ 10,000 Asteroids

You are here

“The earth is a crumb in a supermarket of resources” - Peter Diamandis | X Prize Foundation

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how can What canitwe beexpect done? to find?

TYPES OF ASTEROIDS TO MINE So far I learned that Near Earth Objects are the easiest for us to reach and therefore to mine. The question then becomes, what can we expect to find out there? Much of what we know about asteroids comes from studying meteorites that have fallen down to earth. They can not give us a complete picture of all the asteroids though. So to study the ones we can not

TYPE-C

reach yet we use earth based telescopes. Asteroids are classified in to different types depending on how much light they absorb or reflect, their spectrum. This spectrum can then be used to determine what the asteroids consists of.9 Asteroids are then classified in to major categories and subcategories. I have gathered the three main categories that are the most interesting when considering mining operations in space.

TYPE-s

TYPE-m

Carbonaceous Chondrite

LL Chondrite

Iron Meteorite

20% Volatiles. “Dirty Ice ball”

Rich in PGM’s

Metals including platinum group metals

Type-C asteroids appear dark through a telescope, which indicates that they are composed of carbon compounds.9

Type-S asteroids are much brighter and appear “stony” in composition. They are very high in platinum content.9

RESOURCES

RESOURCES

Water, metal, organic compounds

Platinum Group Metals

Type-M asteroids are moderately bright and contains metal/ metal-stone mixtures. Estimates shows that the asteroid belt has a billion times more metal than all the metal ore on earth.9

PURPOSE

Sell on Earth for use on Earth

Rocket propellants and consumables, metal for 3D printing. Making rubber, plastic or methane for rocket fuel and CO2 for plants.

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PURPOSE

RESOURCES Iron, Cobalt, Nickel & Platinum group metals

PURPOSE Manufacture large hardware in space, infrastructure, support colonization missions and for sale on earth.


ASTEROID RESOURCE POTENTIAL 3554 AMUN As an example to illustrate the resource potential of asteroids, here is Amun. It is the smallest known Type-M asteroid and was discovered in 1986. This illustration shows a comparison between the amount of resources in this one asteroid, compared to earths current output of the same resources.10

When we can start to mine an asteroid like this, we would be able to cover all of earths mining needs for decades to come. Just imagine what we could do with access to such vast resources.

AMUN

earth’s output

IRON & NICKEL

IRON & NICKEL

$8,000 Billion

$340 Billion

COBALT

$1,3 Billion

COBALT

$6,000 Billion

PLATINUM PLATINUM

$12 Billion

$6,000 Billion

2,48 KM

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when can this happen?

THE VALUE OF WATER IN SPACE Private companies, such as Planetary Resources, whose main mission is to start mining asteroids believe that extracting water in space is where it all begins. Many believes that the first thing to focus on is extracting water from Type-C asteroids. This water can be used as radiation shielding and life support, but more importantly, as rocket fuel. The idea is to be able to make a profit by selling rocket fuel to space stations, satellites and planetary exploration missions. This will mean that spacecraft who are leaving earth will need to carry a lot less fuel in to space, since they can refuel in orbit. This will make launching spacecraft much cheaper and more effective. It will also open up a completely new market, where space mining companies can earn a lot of money to fund further technology and mining operations until they can eventually start mining for metals and minerals as well.

TRILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY

HUNDRED BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY

TIME LINE Based on the amount of water excavated and traded with in space, Planetary Resources has estimated a time line of the progression of space mining. I was quite surprised when I came across this graph, since the estimate seems a lot sooner than I initially thought. Between demonstrating the first water extraction from an asteroid in 2020, to a society travelling between planets in our solar system by 2055, is only 30 years.11 This means that we could actually be alive while our civilization spreads out across the solar system. Further more it also gives me a clearer picture of a possible horizon for my thesis project.

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BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY


TONS OF WATER 1.000.000 Support First Private Colonization Efforts

Humanity Develops Robust Multi-Planetary Transport Network

Arrival of Competing Water Mining Companies

100.000

Supplying Private Mars Expedition 10.000 Preliminary Metal Mining Operation Support 1.000 Supplying NASA Exploration Missions

100

Boosting Satellites, Fueling Space Stations 10 Demonstration

1 2010

2015

2020

2025

2030

2035

2040

2045

2050

2055

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how will this happen?

POTENTIAL MINING SCENARIO

3.

1.

Place a telescope in earth orbit to more easily be able to spot Near Earth Objects and their composition. This way we will know which asteroids to examine first.

2.

The swarm of satellites can map every millimeter of the asteroid to give a detailed picture of what the asteroid looks like. It must also be able to claim or tag them in some way

4.

They satellites can also send small probes in to the asteroid to evaluate samples and further determine its composition.

Launch a swarm of smaller satellites to examine chosen asteroids more closely. A benefit in numbers should some of them fail.

5.

The swarm of satellites must be able to evaluate the asteroid on site and can then send the information back to earth.

6

2

1 8

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6.

When a suitable asteroid has been chosen for mining, a second, larger spacecraft is launched.

7.

The mining vessel will approach the asteroid. It will need to be able to anchor to it and de-spin and de-woble it, if needed. It will then start to extract the volatiles or minerals it was sent there to collect. It must be self sufficient and partially autonomous. It will likely be able to create some infrastructure and 3D print parts to repair it self.

8.

If the extracted minerals are volatiles, they need to be processed to fuel and then sent to refueling stations in orbit. If they are minerals they also need to be processed for construction or return to earth. There are a few ideas of how to send minerals back to earth, such as pods and inflatable heat shielding. But my favorite idea so far is to print the minerals in to a foam material and simply drop them down to earth.

3 7 4

5

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Why Platinum? THE GOAL IS NOT HIGHER CONSUMPTION I chose to focus on Type-S asteroids, because they are the most rich in PGMs, and looked more closely at how we could use these metals. They are of course extremely rare and therefore very valuable. They are also essential for our computers and gadgets but also for more effective non-hydro electric generation and fuel cell-technology. Unlimited access to these metals could change world wide access to high tech solutions as well as our dependency on fossil fuels.

FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCY “Currently fossil fuels account for 81% of the world’s primary energy. We need affordable renewable sources of energy, but non-hydroelectric renewable provided only 2% of the world’s energy consumption in 2010. They are too expensive because they rely on critical metals that are in short supply.”

33 % OIL 30 % COAL 24 % NATURAL GAS 7 % HYDRO 4 % NUCLEAR

2 % NON-HYDRO RENEWABLE

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INTERNET OF THINGS “Within two decades there will be a global demand for over forty-five trillion sensors. This is formally known as the Internet of Things. The question then to ask is, where does the energy and resources come from to create these devices?”

SCARCITY “With current exploration and extraction methods, there are not enough raw materials present on Earth for the world’s current population to experience the quality of life of the modern developed world“

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An ocean of research papers The subject of space travel is naturally a research intense subject. Thankfully I found a virtual treasure trove of research papers and concepts on the NASA website.

3D PRINTING IN SPACE There is an enormous amount of research and concepts that has been studied with a large number of different collaboration partners. Many projects were unlike anything I had ever seen, such as the possibility of 3D printing infrastructure on an asteroid so that it could alter its orbit to come closer to earth using entirely analog mechanical systems. No computer power in sight. When reading this I stumbled across a company called “Made in Space” that has already installed a working 3D printer on the International Space Station.

FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES Reading through a large amount of research papers was no small task. However it gave me great insights into what organizations and companies within the space industry are planning and what could be possible in the year 2040. I learned a lot about future solar panels, Plasma drills, propulsion technology, 3D printing, mining, habitats and so on.

SPACE AESTHETICS I also gained insights in to the aesthetics of a future space industry. Since very few designers are working in this field, much of it is highly engineered. That of course works for an organization such as NASA, but what happens when private companies get involved? They are more dependant on the aesthetics of their products ability to attract customers and investors. So even if no one will operate a vehicle in space, would it still need to be designed to look attractive and reflect company values when it is displayed in media and sales pitches? I think the answer to that is yes.

–M t f

Credit

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Astronautica et al. / Acta D.G. Andrews

106–118 108 (2015)

108

t.

sing ecture. Proces mission archit ial's overall hart of celest Fig. 1. Flowc

izing design, maxim rted in the NEO's is suppo of multiple

pmen profit for develo

to a electric propulsion system attached Craft Architecture. A modular solar The Figure 2-6: Schematic of the Seed specific tasks required at the asteroid. are various modules for performing common bus. Ahead of the bus materials between operations. robotics traverse for transporting module is serviced by a common

NEAS AT AN EARTH­MOON LAGR Applicati on: Printe d Habitat Shells: “Sinterha b”

r was advanced cubesats, powe way from modern instead of the Cerium144 Avionics were Electrode) RTGs using ulsion was rch.jsp?R=2 (i.e. stirling cycle and the prop ssors in 017000329 nsive Pu238, loped by Profe prospectors expe deve oid 6 more ters 201 Aster thrus 8-02-07T 2.1. (ELF) contracts. The kg, so they Force 14:02:55 under USAF less Lorentz +00g for testin small, only 200 gh :00Z life were in enou The s nt and 4 kWe, prospector for a discount. our departme lated the ARTGs was The asteroid d payloads hes and s were simu power out of hed as share ble GTO launc start of life est. Trajectorie could be launc am. Fifteen al on availa s for the NEAs of inter rnicus Progr launch sever trips to the window open loped Cope r plan was to the launch the 1999 Luna the NASA-deve orbit until on in using wait based then design in propulsion. interest. The ics, power, and asteroid of updates in avion Prospector with

fly propulsion and gravity assists to the RAMA Seed Craft will use electric On its maiden voyage, in 2038, has a well-determined orbit, is 36Asteroid (NEA) 2009 UY19 which 33 towards and intercept Near Earth in 2039 and approximately every 15 Lunar Distances (LD) of Earth 163 meters wide, and will be within begins harvesting raw materials Craft Seed the UY19, 2009 sing with years thereafter. After rendezvou es pioneered by the NASA KSC subsurface using ISRU technologi as from the NEA’s surface and Craft will refine the raw material asteroid mining initiatives. The Seed l Swampworks team and industry manufacturing necessary mechanica processed feedstock to begin complex design, needed and use the resulting they are integrated into a large, qualified and made are ts storage, and components. As componen attitude control, propulsion, energy driven lly mechanica for s mechanical, free-flying which includes subsystem itself becomes an autonomous, asteroid the , Eventually . autonomous navigation

asa.gov/sea

19

Credit: Sc ott H

owe, JPL

Concept t a it b a H id o r Aste g tion: Stabilizin 110

108 (2015) 106–118 D.G. Andrews et al. / Acta Astronautica

nstra nology Demo ch ed out Te y it v ra g Micro can be hollow t a th id ro e st f an a n habitatsAsteroid wirfathcepowder the surface o ction of huma te regolith su ro p n o ti ia for rad system

t:

—STOCKPILING MULTIPLE 2.4 MISSION IMPLEMENTATION ANGE POINT

flowchart. g architecture Fig. 2. Minin

https://ntrs.n

Fig. 6. LEO SOC configuration.

ity Robotic mobil anchors placing grid of

asteroid. Fig. 8. Boring head for M-Type

Additive 3D Automated technology Construction stabilizes hardens and surface rtially Asteroid is pa hollowed out at inserted Inflatable habit of a Gross Liftoff Weight (GLOW) has SSTO edmT), Theinf lat d of 72,750 lbm (33 mT), an payload a 3,931,000 lbm (1783 lbm (130.6 mT). It is a and an empty weight of 288,000 (VTVL) configuration built Vertical Take Off, Vertical Landing ion ulsa deployable, propwith advanced s,composites almost entirely of de no ingre-entry ckbase shield (see Fig. 4) made from flexible Do inflated used on IRVE [11]. This TPS materials similar to those s for both low cost and the extremely low tem allows sys approach – setup and (b) miner module Fig. 7. (a) Miner module operations harvest and transport.

dry weight.

Scott Howe, JPL

2.3. Space operations centers

Operations Centers, one There will be two or three Space one at high altitude (e.g. L5). at 1000–1300 km altitude and SOC at GEO if the market There might also be an optional Platforms takes off. The for space manufactured GEOSAT are assembled and LEO SOC is where outbound payloads

(side view). Fig. 9. M-Type Miner COJNOPs

(hence the high altitude) to picked up by outbound ReNETs orbit is also above 99% of insure a nuclear safe orbit. This The SOC is both a the space debris, simplifying operations. payloads trans-shipped outfor station transfer and storage profits prior to product bound, and a cash cow to generate a principal in the 1992 return from the asteroids. I was on Study (CSTS) [12] where Commercial Space Transportati in the US joined forces the six major Aerospace Companies space markets would open if to do an in depth look at what reduced from the then the cost of launch to orbit was /lb using a fully reusable current $5000 /lb to as low as $200 launch system at high flight rates. and discovered We interviewed hundreds of businesses research space where a huge pent-up demand for zero-gee explored and utilized. This proprietary techniques could be because the ISS disdemand has never been satisfied Our SOC was designed to courages proprietary research. low launch costs by the meet this demand and guarantee mining. Bigelow is curhigh flight rates associated with space for $25 M for 60 rently advertising a zero-gee work were costing experiment We it. get probably days, and will orbit for $100,000/month. lockers with support staff on

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Interview with ADAM SCHILFFARTH Technical Business Development Director | Planetary Resources THE VALUE OF WATER IN SPACE I contacted Planetary Resources to obtain more information about mining in space, from a company who has made it their core business plan to do just that. I got in contact with Adam Schilffarth who is the Technical Business Development Director at Planetary Resources. I had already learned quite a bit about their plans for mining in space but I wanted to learn more about the details of how it could work when it comes to propulsion, refueling in space and the legal framework that would be needed. When speaking to him I realized further just how big this subject really is. There are so many factors that needs to be considered, such as how much weight we could get into orbit, orbital trajectory design, where refueling of spacecraft actually would take place and so on. I realized that there are a lot of factors that I simply would not have time to dig in to with the risk of having a very scattered final result. This helped me further to narrow down my focus on the actual extraction of minerals from an asteroid and what would be needed to get there.

PROPULSION The old fashioned way of propelling a spacecraft in space has been chemical propulsion, the ignition of hydrogen and oxygen to create thrust. At first I thought that I should look for something more new and exciting such as ion-propulsion or plasma rockets. However these technologies has a much lower impulse thrust, which means that they can go really fast, but need a lot of time to reach those speeds. This also means that they need a lot of time to slow down as well. For spacecraft going further out in the solar system, this makes a lot of sense since they also require less fuel to operate.

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My mining vehicle on the other hand will be travelling to a Near Earth Object, which will be closer to earth than the moon, so the distance is not really that great. My assumption is also that there will be infrastructure available in space by the year 2040 to refuel the mining vehicle. And when you can refuel rather easily, then spending more fuel to get there isn’t really a problem. It would be much more practical to have higher impulse capability for this mission. I decided that sticking to the old fashioned propulsion method make more sense for my project.

MINERAL RIGHTS There are currently no mineral rights for mining in space, which presents a problem. Currently you would own everything that you remove from the asteroid, but there is no way to claim mineral rights for a whole site as you can on a mining site on earth. This means that no one is going to invest money in a mining site on an asteroid, because there is no actual site to invest in. I believe that as we come closer and closer to asteroid mining becoming possible, the legal framework is likely to adapt to allow it. Especially if asteroid mining would become a better alternative to terrestrial mining in 2040.


MINERAL RIGHTS

CHEMICAL PROPULSION

“There are no mineral rights for asteroids, if there were, there would already be many exploration missions to asteroids”

“High impulse is always a more efficient way to utilize your energy. And if you can refuel in space, it wouldn’t really matter if you need more fuel”

ELECTRICAL PROPULSION “ION drives requires much less mass to reach the same momentum transfer. But on the expanse of much less impulse thrust. This means that it will take you a while to get there”

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Premise

LIMITATIONS

MINING FOR METALS

To be able to decide the direction of the project, I needed to limit the project within certain boundaries. Such as horizon, type of operation, and surrounding conditions.

HORIZON 2040 I decided to base the horizon of this project on the year 2040. At this time we are expected to have begun a new area of business by supplying rocket fuel in space. This also means that it is the perfect time to start mining for metals and minerals.

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I decided that my project should be focused on extracting minerals, because It is more interesting for me and Epiroc to find a way of translating what they know best how to do on earth, and move that in to space, which is rock drilling. This opens up opportunities to look at mining in extreme environments, autonomous mining and machines that can directly evaluate mineral resources on-site.

2040

REFUEL IN SPACE

MINERAL RIGHTS

INCREASED DEMAND

Reusable rockets are now standard and we can launch more cargo at a cheaper price per kg

We have thriving rocket propellant business in space, where companies offers refueling of spacecraft in orbit

The legal framework has evolved to allow for mineral rights in space

The worlds demand for rare earth metals have increased to a breaking point

CLEAN ENERGY

MINING IN DECLINE

TECH IS A CLASS ISSUE

Many advances has been made in clean energy, but the required minerals/metals are to rare and too expensive to build them

Depleting ore veins, stricter regulations and a lack of trust has made mining far more expensive. Profit margins are slim at best and investors are backing off

High tech products that rely on PGMs and rare earth minerals are so expensive that only the wealthy elite can enjoy modern technology


Goals & wishes

GOALS & WISHES These are the criteria that the final design was supposed to fulfill, where all Goals are considered essential and Wishes are preferred, but not all essential.

GOALS ASTEROID MINING VEHICLE DESIGNED TO MINE METALS AUTONOMOUS/ REMOTE CONTROLLED ANALYZE MATERIAL ON SITE SELF SUFFICIENT EMBODY EPIROC DESIGN VALUES

WISHES ABILITY TO RETURN METALS TO EARTH ABLE TO CONSTRUCT INFRASTRUCTURE EXTRACT AND MAKE USE OF VOLATILES AS WELL

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Conclusions

TERRESTRIAL MINING AND ITS FUTURE Terrestrial mining is facing a lot of problems. From a lack in trust, tightened regulations, an aging work force and a lack of innovation. More importantly though, we are facing the risk of running out of easily accessible resources to mine. When speculating the future, nothing can be certain, but it seems that these factors will only continue to get worse. The up side is that new technologies, such as automation, tele-remote control and 3D printing, could help us mine resources that are much more difficult to reach. Regardless, mining only seems to become more and more expensive. It is likely that we will find ourselves in a position where mining asteroids could be cheaper than mining on earth.

WHY MINE THE SKY? Presently we have found close to 600.000 asteroids in our solar system, most of them in the asteroid belt just beyond Mars. 10.000 of these are called Near Earth Objects or Near Earth Asteroids (NEO/ NEA). These asteroids are on an orbit that takes them closer to earth than our own moon, which means that they are easier for us to reach than the moon. Asteroids contain the same building blocks as our planet, but the difference is when our earth formed the heaviest metals sank to our core. Metals such as Platinum Group Metals (PGMs). On asteroids however, this has not been the case. The asteroids that we are most interested in are the ones that contain water that can be used for rocket fuel, radiation shielding, sustain human life in space. But also asteroids rich in PGMs and base metals such as Iron, Nickel and Cobalt. The asteroid belt is estimated to contain many times more minerals than the we could ever find here on earth. An asteroid in the size of 500 meters in diameter could provide us with all the minerals that we would need for decades. So it goes without saying that the resources up there are plentiful.

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Having access to such vast resources could bring a renaissance in our technological development on earth as well as making it a lot easier for us to spread out through our solar system.

TIME LINE We are right now taking our very first steps towards mining asteroids and there are both private companies and government agencies involved. By comparing our development in the aeronautics industry, from the Wright Brothers to a global business, estimates have been made on how fast we will develop in space mining. The current estimate is that by 2055 we will have a stable trading network throughout our galaxy, with colonies and all, and the key to this is to start extracting water to produce rocket fuel. Personally I think it sounds very optimistic, although I do believe we will be there at some point. However I am willing to go along with this estimate for the sake of my project.

SCENARIO Everything needs to start somewhere and the current plan is to put a telescope in orbit. This would be used to find NEOs and estimate their water/mineral content. The second step would be to send out small drones to take a closer look at the chosen asteroids. These would measure every millimeter of the NEA, probe them to analyze material, claim them and send the information back to earth. Third step is launch a larger spacecraft, send it to the asteroid and start the actual mining process. This would need to be a completely self sufficient vehicle, that is partly autonomous, can create infrastructure, evaluate minerals and 3D print parts for repairs. The last part is then to partly process these materials and send them back to earth.


37 SpaceX, [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.pexels.com/photo/aerial-view-earth-exploration-flying-60132/ [Accessed 18 July 2018].


03 38

IDEATION


39 Pixabay, (2018), - [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.pexels.com/photo/analysis-blackboard-board-bubble-355952/ [Accessed 18 July 2018].


Workshop at Epiroc To generate early concept ideas I had a workshop with my sponsor company: Epiroc

BRAINSTORMING I had divided the workshop into three different topics; layout of the craft, extraction method and maintenance/repair. I wanted to keep this workshop very open and just let the ideas flow freely. After a while I noticed that it was a bit difficult to just stick to one topic at the time so I leaned back and just allowed these great minds to fire away. It was great to get ideas from people who are very experienced in designing for the mining industry and see how they came up with solutions when they had to put that thinking in to space. The workshop let to a lot of great ideas that I could later use to define the concepts.

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Constraints Before I continued to generate concepts I needed to make some decisions regarding the configuration. With the facts that I had previously learned I defined the different parts of the ship that I would need to consider. I also realized that I would not need to explore all of them much further since the research had shown the best alternatives. I focused in on which ones I could establish already and which required more exploration

PROPULSION CHEMICAL REFUEL ON-SITE

ENERGY SOLAR

4 Return TO BE ESTABLISHED

ESTABLISHED CONCEPT CONCEPTS TO EVALUATE 42


Control

SEMI AUTONOMOUS

2 MAINTENANCE TO BE ESTABLISHED

UPKEEP

3D PRINTING SEMI AUTONOMOUS IN SITU MANUFACTURING

3 Extraction TO BE ESTABLISHED

1 LAYOUT TO BE ESTABLISHED

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1 LAYOUT: Concept 1 (Concepts are simple representations of ideas and do not represent the final design and form)

DRONES DOCKED TO SHIP

MINING VESSEL WITH HELPERS This concept is a mining vehicle where all mining equipment, processing, 3D printing and excavation is housed in the vehicle itself. It will have small drones that detaches from the main vehicle on arrival. Some of these drones will be able to collect volatiles that can be used for fuel and excavation, others will be used to maintain and repair the ship when needed. Simpler tasks can be performed autonomously, others can be performed with pre programmed directions from earth. + Main vessel can mine and drones can collect fuel and perform repairs + Mining operation in one vessel + Redundancy with multiple drones

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SHIP MAINTENANCE

COLLECTING VOLATILES

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1 LAYOUT: Concept 2 (Concepts are simple representations of ideas and do not represent the final design and form)

MODULAR This concept is a modular vehicle that travels in one piece to the asteroid, then splits into different modules upon arrival. The different modules will perform different tasks such as excavation, processing, energy collection, 3D-Printing and fuel production. + Different units performing different tasks, such as extraction, processing and energy collection + A mining operation in one vessel – Transportation of energy, ore, etc between different sites on the asteroid

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1 LAYOUT: Concept 3 (Concepts are simple representations of ideas and do not represent the final design and form)

REBUILDS ON SITE This concept is a smaller vehicle with 3D printing and in-situ construction capabilities. It will collect base metals on arrival and use them to expand and reconstruct itself as a complete mining station on the asteroid. This means that we do not need to build a complete mining vehicle on earth and send it into space, but rather just the tools for constructing one. It will then complete itself on site with local resources. + Smaller vessel can be sent to the destination + Can expand itself on-site, using in situ material – Depends on all needed material being available on-site – Might render the vehicle unusable for future mining operations on other asteroids

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1 LAYOUT: Concept 4 (Concepts are simple representations of ideas and do not represent the final design and form)

MOTHER SHIP WITH SWARM This concept is a mother ship that houses all support infrastructure for mining, such as energy, maintenance bay and processing. It carries a large swarm of small drones that will perform the mining and excavation process, where many small operations together lead to a large whole. + Redundancy. One fails, several can replace it – Could several small drones excavate enough quantities? – Perhaps a hive of drones requires a rather large mass to be launched into space

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2 Maintenance & Repair (Concepts are simple representations of ideas and do not represent the final design and form)

I developed concepts to suggests how the mining vehicle could collect water that can be transformed into propellant as well as base metals and regolith that can be used to 3D print spare parts. Also how the vehicle could perform routine maintenance and unexpected repairs.

CONCEPT 1 SMALL ROBOTIC HELPERS

As mentioned in Layout: Concept 1, the vehicle is equipped with small drones that performs maintenance on the main vehicle. + Can easily move around the vessel + Redundancy – Extra weight into orbit?

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CONCEPT 2

CONCEPT 3

ROBOTIC ARMS

VISITING MAINTENANCE CREW/DRONE

In this concept the vehicle is equipped with robotic arms that perform maintenance on the mining vehicle.

In this concept the vehicle is not equipped with any extra drones for maintenance. Instead there will be a network of maintenance drones that visits different asteroids for maintenance and perhaps resource collection.

+ Can be nicely integrated – Low redundancy – Difficult to have robot arms that reach all over the ship?

+ Less mass needed to be launched in orbit at once – Perhaps not economically viable

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3 EXTRACTION (Concepts are simple representations of ideas and do not represent the final design and form)

Next I needed to develop concepts for how the mining vehicle would be able to extract the desired minerals and metals.

CONCEPT 1 PLASMA DRILL

A plasma drill that will be able heat up the rock very fast so it cracks when it is cooled down again. Gas can then be used to flush the broken off rock into a collection unit. + Can dig deep with little equipment + No drill bit that needs replacing + Likely to work well in micro gravity – Currently difficult to maintain direction

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CONCEPT 2

CONCEPT 3

EXPANDING MEDIUM

SCRAPE FROM SURFACE

A metal or fluid that can expand and contract depending on temperature and in this way crack the rock for extraction.

In this approach the asteroid is excavated by scraping off rock from the surface. Sort of like if you would keep pealing an apple until you reach the center.

+ Use access to extreme hot and cold + Homogeneous excavation – Mechanical parts that might need replacing – Will perhaps use a lot of volatiles for mining

– Might have to go through a layer of regolith – Mechanical parts that might need replacing

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4 Return

I also needed a section of concepts for how material could be retrieved back to earth to close the cycle of the mining operation.

CONCEPT 1

CONCEPT 2

RETURN VESSEL

ISM CAPSULE

A vessel purposely built for retrieving material to earth that is launched with the mining vessel.

Using 3D printing and local base metals and regolith to build return capsules with heat shielding in-situ.

+ Smoothly retrieve material

+ Less mass for launch + Can use in-situ material

– Extra mass during launch – All mined metals must be sent in one go

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– Needed material must be available on-site


CONCEPT 3

CONCEPT 4

CONCEPT 5

RETRIEVAL TUG

FOAM BALLS

“SLING”

A network of support vessels, or tugs, that travels to asteroids to collect materials and send them to earth.

Platinum group metals 3D printed into foam balls of 2 meters in diameter. They would travel so slowly through the atmosphere that they would not need heat shielding.

Constructing some sort of trebuchet, or canon that can send material back to earth. Perhaps also using the spin of the asteroid.

+ Less mass for launch – Economic feasibility?

+ Less mass for launch + Can be produced in-situ + Low velocity means no need for heat shielding – No on board engine

+ Less mass for launch + Can perhaps use spin of asteroid to sling material + ISM possibilities – Accuracy? – Could slowly bring asteroid off course

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EVALUATION


59 Startup Stock Photos, (2018), - [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.pexels.com/photo/desk-office-workspace-collaboration-7092/ [Accessed 18 July 2018].


Concept evaluation

After having established the different concepts, I sent them out to people who could evaluate and suggest which ones could present the optimal solution for an asteroid mining vehicle.

ADAM SCHILFFARTH

Technical Business Development Director Planetary Resources Adam works for Planetary Resources, which is a company based in Seattle, USA. Their core business plan is to mine asteroids and/or the moon for water, minerals and metals.

REDUNDANCY AND 3D PRINTING Adam asked that I consider how the spacecraft should be powered and suggested that nuclear power is very likely to be used in space in the year 2040. He also liked the swarm idea from the layout concept number 4. Since even though NEOs are quite close it is still to far to assume that we could have other spacecraft visiting the mining site on a regular basis. This means that the ship must be highly selfsufficient. When having a multitude of small drones working on a task, the operation is less likely to be affected if some of them malfunctions. He also mentioned that Planetary Resources has already been able to print simple structures with a powder grounded from a metal meteorite. So it is safe to assume that 3D printing capability will be possible at-asteroid in the year 2040. The simpler and “dumber” the structure, the better. He asked me to think of what types of simple structures that could be fabricated on site and which ones are far to complex to print locally.

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CHRISTER FUGLESANG

ESA Astronaut and professor in Space Travel European Space Agency | KTH Christer is a Swedish physicist and ESA astronaut who has visited the International Space Station and made a total of five space walks. He even has an asteroid named after him: 11256 Fuglesang.

LAYOUT, MAINTENANCE AND RETURN Christer thought that all of my concepts for the layout were interesting but he believed the most in concept number 1 and that some of the thinking in concept number three could be combined. When it comes to maintenance he suggested that I separate the terms Maintenance and Repair. Maintenance being scheduled upkeep of the mining vehicle and Repair being unplanned operations to replace and/or repair things that have broken down. He believed that a robot arm that can “walk” along the hull would be the best option. Similar to what is used at the International Space Station. Concerning return he believed the most in a combination of concepts 1 and 2. He suggested that critical parts for a return capsule could be brought to the asteroid, which means anything that is hard to produce on site. But that more simple parts such as the hull and fuel can be produced on site.


Conclusions

After evaluating my concepts with these very skilled people I needed to make a few decisions.

LAYOUT

GOSHA GALITSKY

Industrial Designer (My mentor) Epiroc Industrial Design Competence Center Gosha is an Industrial Designer at Epiroc and has many years of experience in designing mining solutions, products and vehicles for terrestrial mining operations.

EXTRACTION METHOD Me and Gosha spoke more about the extraction methods, since that is the expertise of Epiroc. I learned early on about plasma drills as a possible solution that could be used for mining in space. They require no drill-bit that would need to be replaced on a regular basis, which is a huge benefit on an asteroid where a mining vehicle has to be self-sufficient. There has been several tests done with plasma drilling and it shows a lot of promise for mining on earth as well. However it is difficult to maintain the direction which is a problem for terrestrial mining. In this case we also thought that simply drilling holes straight down in to the asteroid is perhaps not the best way to extract minerals. In this way you would have an asteroid that is just full of holes. But by combining the 1st and 3rd extraction concepts, we could have a mining operation that strips the minerals more homogeneously. It would correspond to open pit mining here on earth and the machine would not be unlike a CNC milling machine that strips the minerals off the asteroid layer by layer.

I decided to go with concept 1 for the major part of the mining vehicle. But I also decided to combine it with a bit of modularity from concept number 2 and 3D printing capability from concept 3.

ENERGY Adam told me that nuclear powered space craft is very likely in the year 2040. I believe that but the ESA also launched a mission to an asteroid that did just fine with solar power. Solar panels in general also become more and more effective with each decade, so I decided that my mining vehicle would utilize solar power apposed to nuclear power.

EXTRACTION As I discussed with Gosha, I decided to use a plasma cutter that heats up an area of the surface of the asteroid instantly, then cools it down quickly, which makes the rock crack. It will perform this action across the surface to extract material.

MAINTENANCE/REPAIR Scheduled maintenance will be performed by small drones on a regular basis. If repair is needed that goes outside of the drones programming, information will be sent to earth. Repairs can then be performed in a VR environment and the instructions sent back to be performed by the drones.

RETURN To make the most use of the vehicle, the rear part of the craft will decouple to function as a space tug that can transport insitu manufactured containers back to low earth orbit. 61


Chosen concepts

CONCEPT 1+2+3 MINING VESSEL WITH HELPERS A SINGLE VESSEL WITH A SPECIFIC PURPOSE

CONCEPT 1 MAINTENANCE DRONES AN EXTENSION FOR THE CREW ON EARTH TO BE ABLE TO PERFORM REPAIRS MULTIPLE DRONES INCREASE REDUNDANCY

HUMAN CENTERED STORY LINE OFFER MORE THAN JUST TECHNOLOGICAL ESTIMATIONS

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CONCEPT 1+3 SURFACE MINING PLASMA DRILL

CONCEPT 1 DRONE MINERS HELP TO COLLECT VOLATILES

HOMOGENOUS MINING SIMILAR TO OPEN PIT MINING

CONCEPT 1+2+3 SPACE TUG FOR MATERIAL RETRIEVAL WITH ACCESS TO PLENTY OF FUEL THE ENGINE OF THE SPACECRAFT CAN BE REFUELED AND UTILIZED AS A SPACE TUG TO RETURN MINED MATERIAL

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Needed parts When I had decided which concepts to move forward with I needed to map out the different parts of the craft that would have to be taken into account in the final design.

4

1 2 3 9

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1. SOLAR PANELS 2. PROPULSION 3. RCS THRUSTERS 4. COM-SYSTEM 5

6

7

5. DOCKING PORT 6. DRONES 7. 3D PRINTER BAY 8. ACCESSIBILITY FOR MAINTENANCE

8 11 10

9. PGM CONTAINERS 10. RCS THRUSTERS 11. WASTE EXHAUST 12. EXTRACTION TOOL

12

Human for scale

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Product journey I also mapped out the different steps that this spacecraft would have to go through to reach the asteroid and mine the minerals. As well as the steps that would be taken when repairs need to be made.

REACH LOW EARTH ORBIT

DOCK WITH REFUELING STATION

EXTEND SOLAR PANELS

RENDEZVOUS WITH ASTEROID

ACCELERATE TO ASTEROID

ADJUST SPIN TO MATCH ASTEROID

ASSESS LANDING SITE

TOUCH DOWN ON ASTEROID

DETACH MINING VEHICLE

ATTACH TO ASTEROID

! MALFUNCTION CONTACT MISSION CONTROL

SEND INFO TO MINING VEHICLE

SOLVE PROBLEM ON EARTH

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PRINT SPARE PARTS

RELEASE MAINTENANCE DRONE

OPEN ACCESS POINTS

RETRIEVE PRINTED PARTS

RE-DOCK DRONE

DRONE FOLLOWS MAINTENANCE PLAN


RETRIEVE DATA FOR EXTRACTION

EXTEND EXTRACTION TOOL

RELEASE COLLECTION DRONES

COLLECT FREED MATERIAL

START EXTRACTION

RELEASE UNUSABLE RELEASE CONTAINERS MATERIAL FOR SPACE TUG

SORT/SEPARATE MATERIAL

STORE MATERIAL FOR TRANSPORT/USE

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CONCEPTUALIZE


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Form mood board

I developed these mood boards to clarify my intentions of the form language of the product. Spacecraft are typically heavily engineered, there is no room for form expression. But in this case when the spacecraft is produced by a private company and ultimately a product that would be sold to space mining companies, it needs to be more expressive.

OPTIMISM

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Not to mention that it would be the first metal mining machine in space throughout human history. This means that Epiroc as a brand and the mining vehicle would see a lot of exposure in media. I chose the images and words for different aspects that I wanted the form to express. Optimism, meaning that it would be a spacecraft of the future

REALISM


with a sleek modern look. Realism in that I want it to inherit some of the form language from past space ventures. And also not look too much like science fiction. I wanted it to look like it belongs in a near future. Industrialism meaning that it should also be able to express that it is a heavy duty mining vehicle. It should look robust and sturdy enough for mining operations. Character is more meant for the drones

INDUSTRIALISM

that will accompany the ship. I do not want them to look like human or animal robots, but I do want them to have some measure of character, since they will be the extension of humans working with this machine.

CHARACTER

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Sketching

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RESULT


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The spacecraft

EPIROC KOLIBRI AM260 The final result is a solar powered autonomous asteroid mining vessel. It is designed to be as effective as possible in a zero gravity environment and be able to sustain itself in a location so remote it is literally out of this world. To ensure its self-sustainability it can use in-situ material to 3D print spare parts and containers. It is also equipped with drones that can refuel the ship by collecting water on site and perform maintenance and repairs.

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LAUNCH

MINIMIZING LAUNCH COSTS The Kolibri is designed to fit in to the fairing of the NASA Space Launch System Block 2, planned to be in use by the year 2030. The fairing of the launch craft is designed to help the spacecraft get through the atmosphere with as little drag as possible. When it reaches in to space, the fairing is blown off to reveal its cargo. The Kolibri conforms to the size of the fairing and is designed to use the space as effectively as possible. At this time the fuel tanks of the Kolibri is empty to reduce the weight needed to be launched in to space. To further reduce weight it is not equipped with any containers to hold mined materials either. It will instead 3D print these at asteroid with local materials. The reason for reducing the weight during launch is to minimize the launch costs as much as possible, making the whole mining operation more economically feasible.

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32 m

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in orbit

FUELING IN ORBIT By the year 2040 experts believe that we will have a reliable infrastructure in space for refueling space craft and satellites in orbit. Once the Kolibri reaches low earth orbit it is refueled in space to be able to travel to its destination. It is released from the launch vehicle, which has performed that task of getting it there. It extends its smaller aft solar panels to be able to power all necessary systems on its way to the asteroid.

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DEPARTURE

RENDEZVOUS WITH THE ASTEROID Once the mining vessel has been fueled it fires up its engines and performs an orbital maneuver. This changes the orbit of the vessel so that it can leave earths orbit and rendezvous with the asteroid.

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ARRIVAL

ARRIVING AT THE SITE When the mining vessel comes closer to the asteroid, it will use its engines to adjusts its orbit to match the asteroid. This will leave it hovering stationary above its surface. Once it has arrived it will unfold its much larger solar panels at the fore of the vessel. These will give the vessel enough power to run the whole mining operation. The solar panels are flexible and rolls out like a carpet, instead of folding out like a mosaic. This type of solar panels are currently tested by NASA and are called Roll-Out Solar Arrays (ROSA).

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Next the extractor unit in the front will decouple from the main structure of the vessel. This is the only part of the vessel that will be in contact with the asteroid for the purpose of removing rock and transporting it to the main vessel. Inside the main structure is where all the minded material is sorted, treated and stored. Since this mining operation takes place in zero gravity, there is no point in landing the whole structure on the asteroid. This way the main part of the vessel can stay still, which will help to keep the solar panels and other sensitive parts intact. That would be very difficult if the whole mining vessel would have to move around on the asteroid surface.


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touch down

THE EXTRACTOR The extractor is using RCS thrusters (Reaction Control System) to land the extractor on to the asteroid and be able to move around. Every foot of the extractor has hundreds of tiny hooks that can grab on to the surface, allowing it to anchor itself to the surface. As the extractor touches down, a few of the drones departs from the main vessel to start collecting water. Many asteroids have a lot of water in the form of ice. This ice can be collected and processed into rocket propellant. It would also be used to create gas that can be used to transport the broken rock from the extractor to the main vessel through the hose.

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MINING

THE EXTRACTION The extractor functions a lot like a CNC mill. It removes layers of the asteroids surface in patterns adapted to the landscape and mineral veins. The design is based on plasma drills that are being tested and used in the mining industry today. A big advantage with plasma drills is that you don’t need any drill bits that will need to be replaced. It also achieves high voltage with low power. This is very useful in space, where it would be difficult to replace drill bits on a regular basis and low power requirements would be optimal. A plasma drill works by having two electrodes towards the surface that creates an arc of plasma between them which heats the rock instantly. The heat is so instant that the rock cracks when it cools down again. On earth water is then used to flush the broken rock up through a pipe. Presently this has been used to drill holes but it has been difficult to drill straight with precision. The Kolibri would instead of having one pair of electrodes have an array of them at the bottom of the extractor unit. The idea is not to drill holes straight down, but instead to instantly heat up a larger area and break of the surface layer directly under the extractor. It then moves a little and repeats the process and in this way peals of the outermost layer of the asteroid. This process is reminiscent to how a CNC mill removes material or how open pit mining works here on earth. Instead of using water to collect the broken rock it could use a gas that is circulating in and out of the extractor to flush the rock up the hose and in to the main vessel to be sorted and processed.

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touch 3d printed downcontainers

EPIROC KOLIBRI AM260 To lower the weight during launch the Kolibri does not carry any containers. They are instead printed from the aft of the ship using base metals and regolith that is collected through the mining process. Instead of throwing unwanted minerals away as much waste as possible is stored to print containers and spare parts.

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These containers are extruded between the engine and the rear section of the mining vessel, pushing the engine backwards. In this way the required container space can be adapted to the amount of platinum group metals that are found.


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RETURN

RETURNING THE PLATINUM TO EARTH Near Earth Asteroids has an orbit that takes them close to earth about once every year. That leaves a yearly launch window when materials can be sent back to earth. The Kolibri keeps mining, collecting platinum and printing containers throughout the year when the asteroid is far away from earth. When the asteroid’s orbit brings it back close to earth again, the containers and the engine decouples from the mining vehicle. The engine has been refueled by the drones throughout the year and now functions as a space tug that brings the platinum back to low earth orbit. After leaving the containers it refuels and returns to the asteroid to dock with the mining vessel again. There it will be refueled and wait until it can return to earth with more platinum next year to repeat the cycle.

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LAYOUt

WHAT IS WHERE

LARGE SOLAR ARRAY WASTE DISPOSAL

A simplified illustration explaining where the different parts of the mining vessel are located.

SMALL SOLAR ARRAY

ENGINE CONTAINERS 3D PRINTER BAY

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EXTRACTOR HOSE EXTRACTOR HOSE WHEEL DRONE BAY

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Anatomy

MATERIAL PROCESSING A simplified illustration of how material moves and are sorted throughout the mining vessel.

DISPOSABLE MATERIAL

METALS / MINERALS

3D PRINTING

METALS / MINERALS

DISPOSABLE MATERIAL

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STORAGE

STORAGE

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REPAIR FROM EARTH

VR REPAIR Since the Kolibri will at times be so far out in space, sending communications will take up to 20 minutes to reach earth and 20 minutes to get back. For this reason it will be impossible to directly control the mining vessel from earth, which is the reason it is autonomous and equipped with drones that can perform maintenance. If a malfunction occurs that is to complex for the drones to repair by themselves, they will send all the information back to earth. Once it reaches the control center on earth the information is uploaded into a virtual environment where maintenance crew can repair the ship, posing as drones. Since it is a simulation they can afford to fail and keep trying until they manage to repair the malfunction. When they have a successful repair plan they can upload it to the actual ship. The drones then performs the repair by reenacting the repair plan created on earth. This image is probably not a perfect representation of what virtual reality equipment will look like in the 2040’s. It is difficult for us to accurately predict what virtual reality will look like in the future. But it is safe to assume that augmented and virtual reality will become widely used in many aspects of our lives, from personal to professional settings.

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Exhibition

UID DESIGN TALKS 2018 My exhibition space during UID Design Talks 2018.

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PHYSICAL MODEL

UID DESIGN TALKS 2018 The hand made model that I created for the UID Design Talks 2018

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RENDERINGS

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REFLECTIONS & CONCLUSION CONCLUSIONS


111 Image Source: Pixabay.com, (2018), - [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.pexels.com/photo/astronaut-33684/ [Accessed 18 July 2018].


GOALS & WISHES FULFILLMENT At this stage I looked back to see if the original goals & wishes I had were solved in the end. When looking back I do feel that my project did solve the goals that I had set out after my initial research. Another goal of mine that I did not specify in the Goals & Wishes list was that I did not want to design a vehicle that would resemble a mining machine made for earth that is simply adapted for space. Before I started this project I researched some of the design concepts out there and many of them were just like that. I wanted this to be a totally different breed, one that was entirely adapted to it’s environment that is so extremely different from earth. To make use of the lack of gravity and materials on site to solve problems and keep the operation running. Since this is such a conceptual project it is difficult to say that I truly solved all the problems, because no one can really say if my solution is possible or not. I am speculating technologies of 2040, using technologies available to me here in 2018. But one thing that is more easy to predict is the society, since humans will always be humans. And I found that there is a lot of research that indicates that mining in space is not a question of if, but really a question of when. And when that happens, it could very much look like this and effect the society in the way that I predicted. This project involved searching and going through a lot of research regarding space travel, 3D printing and future mining trends. When researching such complex topics for an extended time, it’s easy to forget that all of this will not be as obvious for my audience as it may be to me. That I told the story around the mining vehicle and the society which it emerges from really helped me to explain this topic. Without the story I think I would have dug so deep in to technical solutions that it might have been hard to get the point across. My main goal with this project was really to offer a vision of a future society where abundance and technology can be more readily

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available to a larger number of the population. With the added effect of solving some of the issues in our society, such as dependency on fossil fuels and scarcity. If I managed to inspire anyone with this project is not something that I can answer at this point. But I certainly hope that my vision of the future has opened a few minds to the fact that there is a vast amount of resources out there that can make an enormous difference to the quality of life here on earth. All we need to do is reach for it.


WORK PROCESS As I mentioned before, this was not a typical industrial design project, compared to my previous work. There was no user groups I could interview or test mock-ups with. Mining asteroids for metals has never been done, so there is no process in place that I could improve on. But there were on the other hand a lot of enthusiasts that I listened to and some that I could interview. There was also a lot of research on the topic that had yielded very varied results and concepts in the past. The scope of the whole topic just kept getting bigger and bigger throughout the process. I learned quickly that I would have to narrow the project down and not attempt to solve the whole issue from launch until minerals are returned to earth. I had to make decisions and qualified assumptions that there would be infrastructure in space for refueling, that optimal orbital trajectories could be designed to get there and so on. My job was to design the vehicle that extracts the metal from the asteroid and I believe that I did just that. I often had to trust my intuition as a designer and keep moving forward. I have to admit though that designing a spacecraft is a lot of work and there are many factors to consider despite narrowing it down as much as possible. It often felt like I was cutting it very close a lot of the times and that I perhaps had taken on a little bit more than can be done in only 20 weeks. On the other hand I do not regret choosing this topic since I have a huge interest in it. It also gave me the chance to work with speculative design and tackle issues that comes with the territory. It has been a blast.

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References

1. Chaffer, C. (2014, June 3). Key Issues Facing the Mining Industry in 2014. Retrieved from https://www.thermofisher. com/blog/mining/key-issues-facing-the-mining-industry-in-2014/ 2. Niju, B. (2017, November 21). Top 4 Challenges Facing the Mining Industry. Retrieved from https://www.rapidbizapps. com/top-4-challenges-facing-the-mining-industry/ 3. N/A. (2018, 5 February). Environmental impact of mining. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_mining 4. Mielli, F. (2013, April 24). Top challenges faced by the mining industry and its implications (Part 1). Retrieved fromhttps://blog.schneider-electric.com/mining-metals-minerals/2013/04/24/top-challenges-faced-by-the-mining-industry-and-its-implications-part-1/ 5. Deloitte. (2015, December 4). The top 10 issues facing mining companies in 2016: Deloitte. Retrieved from https:// www.miningreview.com/news/the-top-10-issues-facing-mining-companies-in-2016-deloitte/ 6. Galitsky, G. Industrial Designer M.F.A, Atlas Copco. (2018, January 24). Personal Interview. 7. PwC: Global Mining Leadership Team. (2017). We need to talk About the future of mining. PwC’s future in sight series. PDF Retrieved from https://www.pwc.com/futureofmining 8. Diamandis, P & Anderson, E. (2013). We Solve for X: Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson on space exploration [Youtube]. Retrieved from URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVzR0kzklRE 9. Metzger, P. (2013, May 20). The Type of Asteroid to Mine, Part 3. Retrieved from URL http://www.philipmetzger.com/ blog/type-of-asteroid-to-mine-part-3/ 10. Miret, S. (2013, October 7). Planetary Resources – A Gold Rush To Space. Retrieved from URL http://berc.berkeley. edu/planetary-resources-a-gold-rush-to-space/ 11. Vorhees, C. (2013). Planetary Resources - Chris Vorhees - 16th Annual Mars Society Convention [Youtube]. Retrieved from URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFR_hCmhTz4

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SCHEDULE

JAN W. 03

W. 04

FEB W. 05

W. 06

W. 07

MAR W. 08

W. 09

W. 10

W. 11

W. 12

RESEARCH Desktop research Research visits Interviews

ANALYSIS Define mining operation Opportunity area Project definition Goals & Wishes

IDEATION Workshops Sketching Concept dev. Scenarios

EVALUATION Collaborators Professionals Goals & Wishes

DESIGN Concept refinement CAD Modeling Model-making Rendering

FINALIZE Presentation UID talks prep Report

Research Presentation

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Midway Presentation


MAR W. 13

APR W.14

W. 15

Process Gateway

W. 16

MAY W. 17

W. 18

W. 19

Final Report

W. 20

W. 21

W. 22

Design Talks Prep

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ANDERS SANDSTRÖM MFA Advanced Product Design UMEÅ INSTITUTE OF DESIGN www.sandstromanders.com anders.elis@icloud.com

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Profile for Anders Sandström

Mining in Zero Graivty  

MFA Master Thesis in Advanced Product Design Mining in Zero Gravity is a speculative design project that offers a vision of our first attem...

Mining in Zero Graivty  

MFA Master Thesis in Advanced Product Design Mining in Zero Gravity is a speculative design project that offers a vision of our first attem...

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