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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Business offer: you too can be a space pirate

I was looking for articles about how "asteroid mining" is pie-in-the-sky bullshit, and unsurprisingly came across very little on the topic. The closest I could find was this:

Vice - the problems with asteroid mining.

They don't actually explain any of the technical problems with asteroid mining - how to extract and refine minerals in a zero-gravity zero-temperature zero-atmosphere zero-chemicals high-radiation environment - but they do go into some of the legal/sociological problems.

Which got me to thinking.

It must cost an awful lot of money to build a spaceworthy mining plant, send it out to space, tether it to an asteroid, refine the metals and then ship them back to earth, no? I mean, the only reason you'd do it is if it only cost (let's say) $100 billion to build and install the plant, but you could get maybe $200 billion in revenue from the metals.

Which would mean at some point you're going to try to land a $200 billion shipment of metals on the earth somewhere.

How much would it cost, do you think, just to intercept a $200 billion shipment of metals on its way to the earth? A lot less than it cost to mine and deliver those metals, no? I mean, it's less work involved. All you have to do is send a spaceship up (say) 100km into the atmosphere, deploy a net or grapple, and then direct the payload to your favoured alternate landing spot.

In fact, it's even been done before: certain intrepid British adventurers of old figured out pretty quickly that it's a lot better to just let the Spanish to all the silver mining and sugar refining, and then just nick the proceeds as they were shipped back across the Atlantic. They even had stories written about them.

So, in the fine tradition of Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, I propose that my humble readers and I form our own private joint venture company: The Brotherhood of Space Pirates.

We'll raise a pile of venture capital, and then apply it to developing the technology necessary to steal a $200 billion cargo of platinum in outer space. Hey, the law doesn't apply in space, does it? What can Planetary Resources do? Sue us in space court?

All in favour?


  1. Replies
    1. The proper response is "Arr! Yarr!"

      You get a free pass this once since you're new here.

  2. Will there be special hats?

  3. The Illudium Q -36 Explosive Space Modulator... that creature has stolen it!!

  4. It just so happens I know of a company that would be interested in investing in such a proposal. Prospectus at:

    1. Y'know, I like Somali pirates. I thought when I joined the Pirate Party that I was supporting Somali piracy, not some stupid internet crap.

      I think a business combination between our organizations would generate synergies that would significantly leverage our profit centers, don't you?

    2. We're going to need a good song, like this:

    3. Come visit us in our Howe Street office.

  5. I was just thinking that this approach is what has happened in bitcoin. The computing power required to "mine" new bitcoins is so difficult, that it is now easier to figure out how to steal them instead. Brilliant!

    1. Seems the legal-illegal acquisition equilibrium price hasn't been found then.

      The profitability of illegal acts is supposed to get arbed away too.