Production

The exploration of outer space gives humankind access to unlimited material and spatial resources of the universe, which environment has exceptional technological conditions.

The unique nature of the universe, the resources of which will become available as soon as humankind takes the path of space industrialization, will create a new space economy with unlimited possibilities. After that, the Earth inhabitants will have a chance to restore planet’s ecology, provide an industrial path of development at a higher technological level and also solve all social and economic problems.

Factors of competitiveness of production in space
Resource factors Price factors
Cosmic factors Non-cosmic (indirect) factors
    Resource factors
  • Zero gravity
  • High vacuum
  • Inexhaustible resource base
  • Solar energy
  • Endless space
  • Perfect cleanliness
  • Natural air-tightness
  • Cryogenic temperatures
  • Lack of СО₂ emissions into the atmosphere
    Cosmic factors
  • Robotization of space industries → lack of comprehension and taxes along with the environmental safety
  • Highly automated technological processes → minimum operating costs
  • Possibility of using effective (but ecologically “dirty” or dangerous in terms of the Earth's biosphere) technologies that are prohibited on Earth
  • Low or zero costs of environmental protection measures, utilization and disposal of waste
  • Lightness and simplicity of space equipment / technologies → minimization of capital and operating costs
  • Reduction of costs for production and delivery to the Earth when using the GPV
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  • Tightening of world’s environmental standards and environmental requirements
  • The eco-oriented nature of the space industry remoted from life on the planet will allow to obtain tax and trade preferences
  • Low tariffs for energy and raw materials, Energy-consuming space transport for the entire space industry
Production development
  • On Earth
    • Production of natural and environmentally friendly food products
    • Production of “green” electricity, heat (in cold climates) and cold (in hot climates) without harming the biosphere’s ecology
    • Construction of eco-friendly and comfortable housing, industrial buildings and structures
    • Transport, energy, information and eco-oriented infrastructure, etc.
  • In space
    • Energy
    • Production of foam steel
    • Manufacturing of composite materials;
    • Release of silicon wafers
    • Growing monocrystals;
    • Electronics
    • Mechanical engineering
    • Metallurgy
    • Bio- and chemical technologies
    • Space medicine
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Robotics
    • Construction
    • Agriculture
    • Transport, energy and information infrastructure
  • On asteroids and other planets
    • Mining of following minerals: iron ore, platinum, cobalt, gold, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, osmium, palladium, rhodium, and other minerals, as well as water
    • Examples:
    • A relatively small metal asteroid 1.5 km in diameter may contain various metals, including precious ones, in the amount of USD 20 trillion
    • An asteroid 1 km in diameter may contain up to 2 billion tons of iron-nickel ore. It is equal to the total volume of ore extraction worldwide for the whole year (which is about USD 112 billion in monetary terms)

The space industrialization vector implies that basic sectors of space industry should be created and rapidly increased in the first place.

Here we talk about space, solar, and hydrogen energy; space transport; extraction and processing of mineral raw materials of asteroids and other space bodies as well as production of structural materials and composites, industrial elements, assemblies, and equipment from these materials; construction of industrial and residential biosphere clusters in the Earth's equatorial orbits.

Construction

The practical industrialization of near-earth space should begin with the first launch of the GPV.

The first step is to create an orbital transport-infrastructure and industrial-residential complex, which covers the planet in the equatorial plane while being placed in low Earth orbits – that is the Industrial Space Necklace “Orbit” (ISN “Orbit”).

For example, the length of the ISN for an orbit with an altitude of 400 km is 42.6 thousand km.

During the basic space industrialization, it is necessary to:
  1. 1.Form construction and assembly sites along the low equatorial orbits.
  2. 2.Lift and mount the load-bearing (power) transport and communication components of the ISN “Orbit” in order to complete construction of the support structure as well as the entire space transport and energy-information infrastructure during the first 2 years of the GPV flights.
  3. 3.Build the EcoCosmoHouses for personnel serving the ISN “Orbit”.
  1. 4.Build the first group of space industrial clusters in the reference orbit fitted out with essential facilities, while using construction materials delivered from Earth.
  2. 5.Create a space construction and industrial complex on their basis in order to produce structural materials from space raw products. This will allow to start the mass construction of industrial clusters for the subsequent large-scale space industrialization. Their number should reach at least 100 thousand units (placed approximately every 400 m along the orbit) in the future.
  3. 6.Start deploying a group of solar power plants in orbit at the same time.

Energy

The increasing of space power capacities on a first-priority basis is a strategic task and a material basis for the vector of space industrialization.

It is easy to provide high energy that is necessary for industrial needs in orbit. For example, 1 m² of illuminated surface provides us with 1 kW of power taken from a natural thermonuclear reactor that is the Sun.

Therefore, the industrials space energetics can be based on the space solar power plants (SSPP), which are film panels with an area of tens of km² that reflect focused sunlight onto a receiving device.

SSPP efficiencies
  • Possibility of redirecting cosmic solar energy to Earth in the form of radio waves or hydrogen obtained from electrolysis of water.
  • Exclusion of the fuel costs (compared to Earth where fuel charges are 50–70% of the prime cost in the case of thermal and nuclear power plants).
  • Zero costs for cleaning and disposal of harmful emissions.
  • The independence of the space technological component does not require maintenance and presence of human resources, and that reduces labor and social contributions costs significantly.
  • Elimination or minimization of costs for the main transportation of power to various territorial consumers, including hard-to-reach and remote areas.
  • Reducing the depreciation and repair costs.
  • Zero costs for the disposal of radioactive waste and spent resource of contaminated equipment.
  • High power of the solar stream – its capacity is 1366 W/m² (for example, this figure doesn’t exceed 100 W/m² on the Earth’s surface).
  • Internal space tariff.
Vectors of space solar energy usage

Export to Earth in the form of radio waves or hydrogen obtained from water by electrolysis

Electricity for the space industry's own needs

Electricity

The cost of the SSPP electricity in comparison with the cost of electricity generated on Earth is projected to be:

  • 6 times lower when delivered by launch vehicles.
  • 50-100 times lower for the GVP delivery.
Hydrogen fuel

It is planned to produce inexpensive hydrogen fuel from the ballast water of the GPV, and later from the ice produced on asteroids.

Deep space exploration

Low internal space tariffs for electricity and hydrogen rocket fuel will allow to begin the deep space exploration.

This is not only about the launch and maintenance of a large number of near-earth satellites and their subsequent disposal. It will become possible to send industrial expeditions to asteroids, provide energy-intensive operations of mining and rock processing, deliver industrial volumes of asteroid raw materials to orbit, and export part of the raw materials to Earth.

GPV is a linear kinetic power

When the space industry is loaded at full capacity, the return traffic from orbit to planet will exceed the direct traffic significantly. This will allow converting the potential and kinetic energy of the space cargo into electricity. Due to this phenomenon, the cost of transportation will acquire a “negative value”.

This means that the GPV geospace complex will become profitable not as a transport, but as a giant linear kinetic power plant with a net energy profit of about USD 200 per ton of excess cargo. Thus, 400 million tons of excess cargo per year will provide a net energy profit in the amount of USD 80 billion.

As the Earth’s technosphere shrinks while similar capacities of the space industry increase, the space electric power industry will remain busy, only it will switch from export of electricity to Earth to supply the newly created capacities of the space industry.

Metallurgy

A lot of metallurgical technologies involving the melting of raw materials can be more efficient in space, since they will occur contactless in zero gravity, while being in an absolutely clean environment and in the best of heat insulators that is vacuum.

In addition, the modern level of 3D technologies makes it possible not only to automate and robotize any type of production, but also to ensure the composition of materials and final quality of surfaces.

  • On Earth
    • Gravity

      During the creation or processing, most of the solids go through a softening or melting stage. Plastic or liquid material must be kept by the walls of processing container. Irregularities of the walls can cause flaws in the material’s structure.

      In addition, gravity induces chaotic convective flows along temperature gradients in the liquid layers, which leads to undesirable structural inhomogeneity of materials.

      If a liquid consists of two or more components, then due to the difference in the physical properties of materials gravity causes their separation, thus not allowing a homogeneous structure to be obtained.

    • There is a surface tension

      Often used to create hydrophobic surfaces.

    • No vacuum

      The accumulation and further uncontrolled reevaporation of sprayed materials and impurities on the developed surface of the vacuum equipment walls is inevitable in relatively small volumes of artificial vacuum.

    • Resource consumption of creating temperatures below 120 K
    • Resource intensity of creating high temperatures
  • In space
    • Zero gravity

      Materials or their composites produced in space are homogeneous, have no structural defects and come with much better quality indicators.

      You can produce unique materials. For example, it is possible to smelt foam steel that is more durable than ordinary steel and will not sink in water and corrode.

    • Surface tension prevails

      Any material fused in zero gravity automatically takes the shape of a sphere. After that it can be given the desired structure with a little impact of external forces created in an acoustic, electromagnetic, or electrostatic field.

    • Purity and high vacuum

      The purity of materials as well as the quality of products made of them is one of the most important signs of the structure’s homogeneity.

    • Cryogenic temperatures

      The possibility of rapid cooling at extra-low temperatures (especially in high vacuum) opens up new ways for technologists to control the phase composition of produced materials, the degree of their homogeneity, and the nature and density of crystal lattice defects.

    • High temperatures

      It is easy to create high temperatures using concentration of solar emission.

These technologies (due to the described principles of shaping and digital control) allow to readjust production programs remotely, that eliminates downtime, costs for manufacturing and reconfiguring tools, as well as expands the product line without additional logistics costs.

Mining

If given equal conditions of transport accessibility and availability of electricity, minerals contained in asteroids are capable of bringing incomparably greater profits than those on Earth, because the content of useful minerals in space ore reaches the native level.

Due to the efficiency and carrying capacity of the GPV, as well as the ability to create highly efficient space solar energy, the extraction and processing of space minerals will completely replace similar industries on Earth.

  • Gold, cobalt, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium and ruthenium
  • On Earth
    • Gold, cobalt, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium and ruthenium
    • Extracted from the upper layers of the earth's crust.
    • They are the remnants of asteroids that fell to Earth during the early meteorite bombardment.
    • More than 4 billion years ago differentiation of the interior occurred on Earth due to its large mass. As a result, most of the heavy elements sank to the planet’s core from gravity, leading to the lack of heavy elements in the crust.
    • Large quantities of disseminated ore.
    • The content of useful elements in disseminated (poor) ores is 0.2–1.5% Ni, 0.3–2.0% Cu, and 2–10 g/t of platinum group metals (PGM).
    • The costs of native metals extraction in space are guaranteed to be less than on Earth, proportional to the concentration difference that reaches several tens of times due to the lack of ore dressing.
  • In space
    • Gold, cobalt, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium and ruthenium
    • Due to the insignificant mass of the most asteroids, differentiation of the interior has never occurred there, so all the chemical elements are more evenly distributed.
    • The closest asteroids to Earth (their counted number is about 800 to this date) have been studied in sufficient detail and classified by size and elemental composition.
    • Inside the bowels of an asteroid 1 km in diameter there are about 30 million tons of nickel, 1.5 million tons of cobalt and 7.5 thousand tons of platinum, estimated at trillions of dollars.
    • A non-metallic native form is typical for minerals.
    • The content of useful elements in high-grade ores is 2.0–5.0% Ni, 0.3–2.0% Cu, and 5–100 ppm PGM.
    • The costs of native metals extraction in space are guaranteed to be less than on Earth, proportional to the concentration difference that reaches several tens of times due to the lack of ore dressing.
  • The costs of native metals extraction in space are guaranteed to be less than on Earth, proportional to the concentration difference that reaches several tens of times due to the lack of ore dressing.

In addition, funds in the resource-extracting industries will not be used for the treatment or disposal of harmful emissions or return of waste rock to the quarry and its recultivation. Mining equipment will also have a low specific material consumption in addition to lower capital, operating and depreciation costs accordingly.

Biotechnologies

Zero gravity, vacuum, purity of the technological environment, cryogenic and high temperatures as well as other factors open up the broadest technological prospects not only for materials science and metallurgy, but also for the production of non-metallic types of materials, substances, and components, including organic and biologically active substances, that expand the prospects for medicine, agriculture, and research of physiological characteristics of living organisms in space.

In zero gravity
  • Convection is reduced
  • Sedimentation is excluded
  • Metabolic processes change
  • Existing aseptic conditions are used
  • The heterogeneity of phases and contents of liquids is preserved
  • Favorable conditions are created for the processes of protein crystallization, etc.

Vacuum combined with zero gravity will allow, for example, to master the production of unique ultrapure and ultrastrong substances and materials, including nanomaterials and biological products.

Based on the developed conditions in EcoCosmoHouses it will be possible to conduct research experiments in an enclosed ecosystem to study:

  • Options for creating an artificial environment
  • Circulation of gases and their mixtures
  • Physiological and biochemical characteristics of the growth and development of plants and animals, etc.
  • Water cycle and water treatment systems
  • Ecological peculiarities of interactions of microorganisms
  • The effectiveness of soil substrates in confined environments

Full robotization and the absence of a human factor in biotechnological production (except for minimizing the wages fund and reducing direct costs) will significantly expand technological capabilities through the use of potentially more effective, but, at the same time, hazardous or toxic substances.

Such conditions allow biotechnologists and biologists to conduct new studies of the organisms’ capabilities at the biochemical and physiological levels and to produce better and cheaper drugs by reducing energy and labor costs.

The scenario development of the space industrialization vector implies that the economy of industrial space will have a convincing victory over the Earth’s technosphere we move to self-sufficiency in “free” and unlimited space resources.

As a result, only those branches of the technosphere will remain on the Blue Planet that either do not have a harmful effect on the biosphere, are sufficiently effective and deplete natural resources only slightly, or those that are essential for humanity.

In the future, the possession of space resources will allow to restore the primordial appearance of earth landscapes and rebuild a new way of living in harmony with nature.