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Mar 28 2015

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Ceres as the main hub for Asteroid Belt exploration and development

Ceres the main base and hub for future asteroid belt mining. This is a pretty interesting article. Certainly, if Ships & Stones is in anyway accurate, Ceres will house a sizable settlement. However, a main hub? Let’s see the pros and cons for that:

Pros:

  • Ceres has tons of fresh water ice
  • Ceres is close enough to the Sun to support solar power
  • Ceres has a very low gravity well. Delta-V wise, it’s easier to get to Ceres from Mars or the Moon than from Earth.

Cons:

  • Ceres has tons of fresh water ice…just like almost every other place in the System. While useful for ISRU (Oxygen, rocket fuel), thinking that the colonists on Ceres will make their living by exporting water makes no economic sense because you can’t swing a dead cat in space without hitting water. Water, contrary to the article’s claim, will not be an exportable resource.
  • Delta-V is not the only factor when it comes to Solar System commerce. Time is, as they say, money. While I do agree that Ceres could be *a* hub for Belt prospecting, Mars itself is a better hub because it’s orbital period is faster than the asteroids within the Belt. This’ll mean that Mars will be “close” to every Belt object every few years, where Ceres (well within the Belt) may take decades to become a “local” stop for some parts of the Belt.

I’m very interested in experiments like Chicks in Space’s Garden of ETON because it’s crucial, I believe, to find out how plants react to long-term low gravity environments. I see, for example, Ceres as an agricultural center (fruits and vegetables) if plants just need the barest gravity to thrive.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/03/28/ceres-as-the-main-hub-for-asteroid-belt-exploration-and-development/

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