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Looting Asteroids' Water Will Make Launches Cheaper

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Jerry Anderson
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The traditional methods include strapping on an extra rocket or rocket stage to kick them into high orbit, or using a lightweight electric thruster on the spacecraft that slowly pushes the satellite to the right spot.

Surprisingly, an answer to this dilemma could come from an asteroid mining concept.

Joel Sercel, who heads startup mining company TransAstra, and Phil Metzger, a planetary physicist at the Florida Space Institute, are among the advocates for a spacecraft that would fly back and forth, from Earth and then out to a propellant depot.

This so-called "space tug" could not only provide a ride for satellites, but also extract valuable resources from asteroids.

"You can recover the capital investment and deliver the spacecraft at a cost savings and make a profit."

While the exact locations of the spacecraft network are being worked out, this is the bare bones of the proposal: Deep in space on a mission in a few decades' time, a mining spacecraft would head out to an asteroid and extract water from it along with other materials and precious metals .

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