MOON PRIZE

Google’s Lunar XPRIZE.

Heard of it?

The President of the Royal Astronomical Society is one of the judges.

Star Trek and Star Wars director J. J Abrams has made a documentary about it.

Milestone prizes of $250,000… $500,000… And $1 million have already been handed out.

The goal of the Lunar XPRIZE?

“Welcome to the new space race”

That’s the welcome you receive on the official website.

In Google’s own words, it’s an:

“unprecedented competition to challenge and inspire engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration”

Combined bonus prizes are $5 million. Second place is $5 million. And first place is $20 million.

In total, $30 million is up for grabs.

And some very exciting companies are gunning for the money. I’ll introduce you to them in just a sec.

First, what do they need to do to win?

Here are the three simple steps:

  1. Successfully place a spacecraft on the moon’s surface
  2. Travel 500 metres
  3. Transmit high-definition video and images back to earth

Sounds cool, bro. But why all the effort?

For fun?

For science?

Nay, dear reader.

For money.

The Moon’s Great Game

Helium-3 is a clean, non-radioactive energy source.

The United States and Soviet Union wasted much of the world’s supply during Cold War-era nuclear tests…

But, theoretically, a tiny amount of Helium-3 could produce enough clean fuel to power entire industries.

Even the entire planet.

No surprise then, helium-3 on the moon could be worth “$375 trillion” says Gerald Kulcinski, in an article in America’s Foreign Policy magazine. (He’s the director of the Fusion Technology Institute at the University of Wisconsin).

Facts (or dreams waiting to become facts) like this have triggered a rush amongst nations.

Think of the 19th Century Great Game. When Britain and Russia vied for commercial and political control of Afghanistan. Except for this time, we’re going full lunar.

Case in point: CHINA.

The secret war on Earth

Helium-3 isn’t the only resource on the moon.

It’s packed full of rare earth metals. And right now, on Earth, 90% of these are found in China.

Rare earth metals are vital to building iPhones…. Solar cells… Wind turbines… Just about any modern technology you can think of.

That’ a big problem for Western corporations (and governments). China has cut off supplies of rare earth minerals before, driving up prices… And it could be the major trick up its sleeve to win Trump’s trade war.

So with an incredible supply of rare earth’s on the moon (irony in that, no?), China won’t stand idle and lose its market advantage.

Russia’s Roscosmos agency is also gearing up for a manned space exploration. They want a base on the moon.

And then of course, there are the private companies.

Who to bet on winning BIG?

Moon Express stole the headlines in 2017 when it received U.S government permission to travel beyond orbit. The first private company to do so.

It’s backed to the tune of $45 million by guys like Peter Thiel (famous for Paypal) and companies like Autodesk.

If Moon Express gets it’s MX-1 lunar lander on the moon and completes Google’s 3-step challenge… It’ll get that $20 mill.

The firm will use the Electron rocket (from New Zealand-based firm Rocket Lab) to land on the moon. And it has a public-private partnership with NASA. And the European Space Agency has expressed interest in partnering with them too.

The six-year-old start-up with a team of 30 already has contracts for payloads from the private sector and scientific community.

Beyond mining the moon for Helium-3, gold, platinum group metals, rare earth metals and water and other resources… They also plan to help researchers develop human space colonies for future generations.

All your wildest sci-fi dreams are coming true.

Commercial space wars

Of course, there’s stiff competition for the $20 mill lunar XPRESS prize pot.

Isreali firm SpaceIL will fly its robot to the moon via SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket…

TeamIndus has a launch contract with the Indian Space Research Organization. They’ll use a polar satellite launch vehicle…

Japan’s Hakuto will share space on India’s rocket to get their rover on the moon…

And international competitor Synergy Moon will be taken there by Interorbital Systems, launching off the coast of California…

Who will win?

Your guess is as good as mine…

There’s more to come…

XPRIZE has more big money space competitions for the future…

As they say on their website:

“We will continue to push boundaries in the areas of commercial space activity in the vicinity of the Earth, the Moon, and other frontiers deeper into space! Stay tuned for future announcements related to upcoming Space Prizes.”

The space industry will grow and grow and grow. That much is for sure.

Until next time.

Sources:

https://lunar.xprize.org/

Is There Money In the Moon?

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/31/billionaire-closer-to-mining-moon-for-trillions-of-dollars-in-riches.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/30/moon-express-says-first-launch-happening-in-2018.html

 

 

 

America: taking the UK to space

The UK government has announced which company will get the majority of the £33.5 million in funding to take this nation to space.

It’s not SpaceX (sorry Musk).

It’s not Virgin Galactic (sorry Branson).

And it’s not even English…

It is…

Lockheed Martin.

‘MURICA!

And don’t forget MOOG

The American aerospace company will work with partners Moog and Rocket Labs. Two more yank corporates.

Altogether, they’ll get £23.5 million to make cutting-edge satellite technology for the UK’s space dream.

“375” jobs will be created, according to Patrick Wood, Lockheed Martin’s international business development director.

Doesn’t sound like a lot, does it?

BUT. They’re not the only firms to get a chunk of the government’s cash.

Funding runners-up include Orbex, a UK-based spaceflight company.

They’ll put the money towards a small launch vehicle called Prime… Which will place “smallsats into polar and sun-synchronous orbits” says SpaceNews.

The British government wants these firms to help it capture 10% of the predicted £400bn global commercial space market by 2030.

According to an article in the FT, “horizontal and vertical launch services could be worth £3.8bn to the British economy over the next decade”.

Indeed, the global market for small satellite launches is expected to be worth some $25bn over 20 years.

So… The exciting question…

Where will the government launch its satellites from?

Kilts, ginger hair and a land of scientists

I’m talking, of course, about Scotland.

The A’Mhoine Peninsula in Sutherland, to be specific.

Don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of it either.

It’s a county in the highlands, and a pretty dramatic one according to Wikipedia:

“Sutherland has some of the most dramatic scenery in the whole of Europe, especially on its western fringe where the mountains meet the sea. These include high sea cliffs, and very old mountains composed of Precambrian and Cambrian rocks”.

Yes, that may have been written by someone on the Scottish Tourist Board. But it sounds like my kind of rugged environment none-the-less.

The U.K. Space Agency has also announced it is providing more than $3 million to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to begin its development.

Scotland is a fitting location for the UK’s first spaceport. They’ve produced so many incredible scientists and engineers… Surely this new industry base will draw many great minds to its work.

Indeed Scottish companies like AAC Clyde Space have pioneered the development of small satellites. They produce around 80 of them a year.

Going into space on the cheap

Here’s how the BBC puts it: “The use of off-the-shelf, low-cost, miniaturised consumer electronics is revolutionising satellites”.

AKA: we can put a hell of a lot of computing power inside a very small box.

We’re talking weather monitoring, communications relays, taking pictures of stuff on Earth.

Small satellites can do this and tend to operate in “polar-type orbits”. Simply put: they pass over the Arctic and the Antarctic as they circle the Earth.

That means our little peninsula in Scotland is perfect!

Rockets would fly north, through the gap between Iceland and the Faroe Islands, and Svalbard. If there were launch failures, nothing would fall on populated land.

Phew.

When the UK starts launching these tiny satellites, we can offer the full shebang: design, build and launch.

And as a little bonus…

It’s not just Scotland getting in on the action…

Cornwall could be the sight of our SECOND spaceport.

Virgin Orbit (Branson’s back in the game!) signed a partnership agreement with Cornwall’s council to operate out of Newquay airport.

Starting in 2021, Branson’s converted aeroplanes would fly off the runway… Climb to altitude somewhere out over the ocean… And then release a rocket that can put a satellite into orbit.

There you have it. The UK gearing up to capture the growing space industry.

The best action is, of course, happening in the U.S. Here’s looking at you Musk. And Bezos.

And lets not forget China…

But I’ll explore that in a future update.

Until then.

 
Sources:

https://www.ft.com/content/58abc7c0-882e-11e8-b18d-0181731a0340

https://spacenews.com/lockheed-martin-orbex-to-launch-from-new-british-spaceport/

http://orbex.space/news/orbex-secures-30-million-funding-for-uk-space-launch-vehicles

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutherland

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44841123

 

 

Will this TINY country win the asteroid mining game?

REVEALED: the country that could become the richest asteroid mining nation on Earth.

It’s not America…

It’s not China…

And, unfortunately, it’s not Britain…

It’s Luxembourg.

Yep, that tiny European country you forgot even existed (unless you, dear reader, are from Luxembourg – sorry!).

It’s official and LEGAL

In 2017, Luxembourg became the first European country to pass a law… Allowing companies ownership of any resources they extract from space.

Not even the US has a law this radical…

The US Commerical Space Launch Competitiveness Act gives ownership to any individual or company that counts as a citizen of the US.

Luxembourg’s law applies to any company that has a Luxembourg address.

So you, dear reader, could register your business in Luxembourg (you’ll probably have to pay for an office there)… And keep your space riches back home!

Doesn’t matter if asteroid companies aren’t PHYSICALLY located in Luxembourg either…

Some have criticised the Luxembourg government for just creating a “space tax-haven” of sorts…

One where Space Barons can funnel all their cash away in secret…

Maybe. But whatever happens, this is the basis of an entrepreneurial economy:

Help people to take ownership of the riches they find, and you’ll reap some of the reward yourself.

It’s a win-win.

Dynamic individuals are now highly likely to flock to Luxembourg…

Case in point: asteroid mining players Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources are working closely with the tiny nation:

  • Peter Stibrany, chief strategist at Deep Space Industries, says Luxembourg contributed an undisclosed amount to their R&D funding.
  • In November 2016, Planetary Resources agreed to give Luxembourg an undisclosed equity stake in the company… In return for $28 million in investment. CEO Chris Lewicki says Luxembourg was “one of the largest investors” in the company’s Series A round.

Deep Space is from California, and Planetary Resources is from Washington. Both in the US.

Looks like Luxembourg’s plan is working.

See, they’re not new to this space game…

Experienced (and wealthy) players in space

Luxembourg hasn’t just a made a mad dash into a sector it has no experience in.

In the 1980s, it became a leader in the satellite communications industry when it launched Société Européenne des Satellites (SES) in 1985.

SES was Europe’s first private satellite operator. Today, its the world’s second-biggest commercial satellite operator.

This TINY country focused on satellite’s, and now owns the world’s second-biggest player in the field.

Who’s to say they won’t help foreign companies (and their own national economy) achieve similar success in asteroids?

We’re just getting started…

Already, Luxembourg has more “asteroid money makers” on the way…

A homegrown space agency with an investment fund supported by the government and venture capitalists…

Ideas to reimburse asteroid mining companies up to 45% of their R&D costs…

And “several more tools to further support and enable commercial space entities and space resources companies” according to Deputy Prime Minister Schneider.

Bloody hell…

What you waiting for?

Give Luxembough a call today!

 

Sources

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/16/luxembourg-vies-to-become-the-silicon-valley-of-asteroid-mining.html

http://www.mining.com/luxembourg-becomes-first-european-country-pass-space-mining-law/

http://www.spaceresources.public.lu/en.html#

 

The New Gold Rush (in Outer Space)

Welcome to the first of my editorials that will advertise the space industry.

To clarify: I’m a direct advertising copywriter (i.e the advertisements I write are designed to make customers buyer immediately, on the spot). And space travel excites me most.

But I’m not a qualified financial adviser. Nothing I write is intended as investment advice. If I mention a company, its because they’re part of the interesting story I’m showing you.

Simply put – everything I write is my own opinion on what’s most interesting to me about the space industry, right now.

Let’s begin:

Could asteroid mining make you rich?

Imagine the Californian gold rush of the late 1840s / early 1850s.

A man discovers a gold deposit. He turns from pauper to rich man in an instant.

Over 100,000 people moved to California for the gold rush. And thousands more, in fact.

So its no surprise that the output of gold rose from $5 million in 1848…to $40 million in 1849…and $55 million in 1851. A ten-fold increase!

Today, huge multinational mining companies are worth billions. $15.7 billion in Barrick Gold’s case.

But this could be peanuts compared to asteroid mining.

Case in point: the asteroid known as 16 Psyche could be holding iron, nickel and other precious metals worth…

$10,000 quadrillion.

Nasa has already announced its plan to “visit” the asteroid four years’ earlier than planned in 2026.

Can you blame them?

I want in! When will I be rich?

Sooner than you realise.

You see, “While the psychological barrier to mining asteroids is high, the actual financial and technological barriers are far lower,” says a recent report on asteroid mining by Goldman Sachs.

Or in plain English: many people think this not possible to do. But the technology means it is more possible than they realise.

Now’s a good time to take a breather and ask ourselves:

Are you an idiot or are you sensible?

I don’t care if that’s offensive. Because what I mean is, if you’re one of the people who think this will never happen, then yes, you’re an idiot.

Look –  it’s only sensible – and logical – that asteroid mining will happen.

Technology makes virtually everything possible, eventually.

If you don’t believe that, you should probably never read another of my editorials. Ever.

OK – I’m logical! I believe! But how do we make it come true…?

One word: robots.

Last year, NASA launched the Osiris REx spacecraft on a seven-year mission to an asteroid called Bennu.

It will map the asteroid for more than a year and then move in close to allow a robotic arm to extract several ounces of material to return to Earth for analysis.

NASA plans to launch a separate pair of robotic missions called Lucy and Psyche, within a decade. They’ll send the devices to explore asteroids near Mars and Jupiter.

And water is key.

We need to keep astronauts hydrated. They could spend years on these missions.

And more than that; water could be transformed into hydrogen, to be used as fuel for the rockets. Extending their mission lifespan.

To that end, space mining startup Planetary Resources has announced plans to launch an initial prospecting mission by 2020 – focused on water.

President and CEO Chris Lewicki thinks solar will power the tech that melts water trapped in asteroids… and then separates its elements like hydrogen. He expects this to happen in the middle of the 2020s, less than 10 years from now.

Deep Space Industries are another asteroid mining competitor who are betting water extraction is key to the success of space mining.

To key to wealth is ownership

And you’re going to get it, if you’re a US citizen.

As this Fast Company article says: “A 2015 federal law, designed to spur development of the U.S. space industry, makes clear that U.S. citizens have the right to what’s obtained from asteroids”.

No wonder Google’s co-founder Larry Page announced a $21.1 million round of funding in 2016 for Planetary Resources.

But Peter Stibrany, chief business developer and strategist at Deep Space Industries, reminds us:

“You’ve got to do this one step at a time. We need to do prospecting first, and then get to extraction and utilization after that.”

Step-by-step.

It’s like how we agreed it’s going to be: logical.

And wrapping things by returning to our first California gold rush example…

It was actually more common in the goldrush for people to become wealthy providing the miners with over-priced food, supplies and services.

So maybe you can get rich from the logical march towards asteroid mining by betting on the companies supplying these asteroid startups.

Who are those suppliers?

We’ll find out in a future editorial.

Thanks for reading.

 

Sincerely,

Karl.

PS, this was my first article, written quickly before going to bed. If it shows, I’m sorry.

But the point stands: asteroid mining will be incredible.

 

References:

http://spartacus-educational.com/USAgoldrushC.htm

https://www.forbes.com/companies/barrick-gold/

https://www.marketslant.com/article/nasa-asteroid-has-10000-quadrillion-iron-gold-silver

https://www.fastcompany.com/40419405/theres-gold-and-platinum-and-cobalt-in-them-thar-asteroids

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