Economic Assessment of High-thrust and Solar-sail Propulsion for Near-Earth Asteroid Mining

Vergaaij, M. , McInnes, C. R. and Ceriotti, M. (2019) Economic Assessment of High-thrust and Solar-sail Propulsion for Near-Earth Asteroid Mining. In: 5th International Symposium on Solar Sailing (ISSS 2019), Aachen, Germany, 30 July - 2 Aug 2019,

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Asteroid mining has the potential to greatly reduce the cost of in-space manufacturing, production of propellant for space transportation and consumables for crewed spacecraft, compared to launching the required resources from the Earth’s deep gravity well. This paper discusses the top-level mission architecture and trajectory design for these resource-return missions, comparing high-thrust trajectories with continuous low-thrust solar-sail trajectories. The paper focuses on maximizing the economic Net Present Value, which takes the time-cost of finance into account and therefore balances the returned resource mass and mission duration. Different propulsion methods will then be compared in terms of maximum economic return and sets of attainable target asteroids. The paper provides one more step towards making commercial asteroid mining an economically viable reality by integrating trajectory design, propulsion technology and economic modelling.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Additional Information:Merel Vergaaij gratefully acknowledges the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Glasgow for supporting this work. Colin McInnes was supported by a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award and a Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies. Matteo Ceriotti would like to thank the James Watt School of Engineering (University of Glasgow) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE Conference Grant EAC/KDF/OFFER/19/046) for supporting this work.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ceriotti, Dr Matteo and McInnes, Professor Colin and Vergaaij, Miss Merel
Authors: Vergaaij, M., McInnes, C. R., and Ceriotti, M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering
College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Systems Power and Energy
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Authors
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the author
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