The rest of the media were reporting on an asteroid named 16 Psyche last month worth $10 quintillion. Oddly enough they reported in July 2019 and again in February 2018 that the same asteroid was worth $700 quintillion, so it seems the space rock market is similar to cryptocurrency in its wild speculation. Those numbers are ridiculous, but it had us thinking about the economies of space transportation, and what atoms are worth based on where they are. Let’s break down how gravity wells, distance, and arbitrage work to figure out how much of this $10-$700 quintillion we can leverage for ourselves.
The value assigned to everything has to do with where a thing is, AND how much someone needs that thing to be somewhere else. If they need it in a different place, someone must pay for the transportation of it.
In international (and interplanetary) trade, this is where Incoterms come in. These are the terms used to describe who pays for and has responsibility for the goods between where they are and where they need to be. In this case, all those materials are sitting on an asteroid, and someone has to pay for all the transport and insurance and duties. Note that on the asteroid these materials need to be mined and refined as well; they’re not just sitting in a box on some space dock. On the other end of the spectrum, order something from Amazon and it’s Amazon that takes care of everything until it’s dropped on your doorstep. The buyer is paying for shipping either way; it’s just a matter of whether that cost is built into the price or handled separately. Another important term is arbitrage, which is the practice of taking a thing from one market and selling it in a different market at a higher price. In this case the two markets are Earth and space.
Continue reading “The Cost Of Moving Atoms In Space; Unpacking The Dubious Claims Of A $10 Quintillion Space Asteroid”
Who has dibs on space debris? If getting to it were a solved problem, it sure would be fun to use dead orbital hardware as something of a hacker’s junk bin. Turns out there is some precedent for this, and regulations already in place in the international community.
To get you into the right frame of mind: it’s once again 2100 AD and hackers are living in mile-long space habitats in the Earth-Moon system. But from where do those hackers get their raw material, their hardware? The system abounds with space debris, defunct satellites from a century of technological progress. According to Earth maritime law, if space is to be treated like international waters then the right of salvage would permit them to take parts from any derelict. But is space like international waters? Or would hacking space debris result in doing hard time in the ice mines of Ceres?
Continue reading “Hack Space Debris At Your Peril”
NASA just completed the first deep-space test of what could one day become the interplanetary internet. Images of Mars and its moon Phobos were sent back and forth between computers on Earth and NASA’s Epoxi spacecraft. Instead of TCP/IP a new protocol, named “Disruption/Delay Tolerant Networking” (DTN) was used. Information is only sent once with DTN, and stored at each node until another node is available to receive the information. To prevent hackers from interfering with the network, information that is transmitted over DTN is encrypted. The team at NASA is hoping to get the protocol accepted by the international community and setup a permanent node at the International Space Station next year.
[via Warren Ellis]
[3ricj] wrote up how to build your own low temperature test chamber to verify that electronics will function at the edge of the atmosphere/outerspace. He needs this for the edge of space project he’s working on. A large cooler serves as the test chamber. It’s cooled down to about
0c -42C with dry ice, then a supply of liquid nitrogen is fed into a copper heat exchanging coil to bring the chamber down to -70C.