Is this project an undergraduate, graduate, or faculty project?

Undergraduate

group

Authors' Class Standing

Jaclyn Wiley - Junior Andrew Bronshteyn - Junior Olivia Kirk - Junior Henry Neiberlien - Senior

Lead Presenter's Name

Jaclyn Wiley

Faculty Mentor Name

Diane Howard

Abstract

Asteroid mining is a highly-discussed emerging area in outer space commercialization. Significant research has gone into the feasibility of asteroid mining, specifically into the retrieval of asteroids and the technical challenges of resource extraction. Less research has focused on the end-of-life of the asteroid. There are two primary end-of-life scenarios for the asteroid: abandonment or deorbit. These scenarios are technologically challenging and potentially risky for the owners of the asteroid.

This paper presents a third option for the asteroid asset after mining operations conclude by lengthening the profitable lifespan of the asteroid. Additionally, the plan takes advantage the caverns and depressions in the surface of the asteroid, a byproduct of the resource extraction process. The solution proposed is to use the asteroid as a storage container on orbit for delicate payloads or as a “garbage can in space,” which would hold the remains of defunct space objects. The mass of the asteroid would provide objects stored within passive shielding from the dangers of the space environment. Additional discussion on the major technical and legal challenges that this solution would face, and how stakeholders could potentially address them.

This paper presents a third option for the asteroid asset after mining operations conclude. This plan would lengthen the profitable lifespan of the asteroid, thereby avoiding deorbiting the asteroid or abandoning it as space debris. Additionally, the plan takes advantage the caverns and depressions in the surface of the asteroid, a byproduct of the resource extraction process. The solution we propose is to use the asteroid as a storage container on orbit for delicate payloads or as a “garbage can in space,” which would hold the remains of defunct space objects until the time they could be more safely deorbited. The mass of the asteroid would provide objects stored within passive shielding from the dangers of the space environment, namely space debris and radiation. This proposal also discusses some of the major technical and legal challenges that this solution would face, and how stakeholders could potentially address them. More research is required to gain a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities that this proposal faces, which can be conducted during the long-term development of commercial asteroid mining technologies.

Did this research project receive funding support (Spark or Ignite Grants) from the Office of Undergraduate Research?

Yes, Spark Grant

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A Novel Lifecycle Extension Plan for the Efficient Usage of On-Orbit Post-Consumer Assets

Asteroid mining is a highly-discussed emerging area in outer space commercialization. Significant research has gone into the feasibility of asteroid mining, specifically into the retrieval of asteroids and the technical challenges of resource extraction. Less research has focused on the end-of-life of the asteroid. There are two primary end-of-life scenarios for the asteroid: abandonment or deorbit. These scenarios are technologically challenging and potentially risky for the owners of the asteroid.

This paper presents a third option for the asteroid asset after mining operations conclude by lengthening the profitable lifespan of the asteroid. Additionally, the plan takes advantage the caverns and depressions in the surface of the asteroid, a byproduct of the resource extraction process. The solution proposed is to use the asteroid as a storage container on orbit for delicate payloads or as a “garbage can in space,” which would hold the remains of defunct space objects. The mass of the asteroid would provide objects stored within passive shielding from the dangers of the space environment. Additional discussion on the major technical and legal challenges that this solution would face, and how stakeholders could potentially address them.

This paper presents a third option for the asteroid asset after mining operations conclude. This plan would lengthen the profitable lifespan of the asteroid, thereby avoiding deorbiting the asteroid or abandoning it as space debris. Additionally, the plan takes advantage the caverns and depressions in the surface of the asteroid, a byproduct of the resource extraction process. The solution we propose is to use the asteroid as a storage container on orbit for delicate payloads or as a “garbage can in space,” which would hold the remains of defunct space objects until the time they could be more safely deorbited. The mass of the asteroid would provide objects stored within passive shielding from the dangers of the space environment, namely space debris and radiation. This proposal also discusses some of the major technical and legal challenges that this solution would face, and how stakeholders could potentially address them. More research is required to gain a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities that this proposal faces, which can be conducted during the long-term development of commercial asteroid mining technologies.

 

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