Trucks Loads of Acid: Mining in Space

I’m working at a hostel in Mexico. After a conversation with a guest started to get interested I started recording it. It is transcribed below:


Jim: I graduated from, uh, a university that (unintelligible due to loud add birds)
Charlie: Sweet.
J: So I could build a city all at once. So that’s what I do. I build cities.
C: Where’s your first city gonna be built?
J: Astroid belt.
C: Well that sounds pretty wicked.
J: Yeah. Miners are going up there. I hired 25 hundred of them, Planetary Ventures did, last year. And so I went over and talked to them and said you guys can’t go mine the meteor, you can’t go mine the astroid belts if you don’t have a fucking mining camp.
C: Yea, no kidding, that’s a bit of a comute.
J: Yeah. (laugh)

(Irrelevant conversation about milk and coffee during which point I make a dope ass latte for someone.Conversation returns to habitations for miners, about Hilton Hotel rooms made for use in space that are built and then inflated)

J: …up to the space station. So that was the first thing. That was about, shit, 20 years ago, or something.
C: Really?
J: …and now they finally- I saw a prototype- and then, now they actually build them up there. They are built …already.
C: That’s incredible. And being inflated is enough to keep them insulated from space and…
J: Yeah, they work great-
C: ..vaccums, and…
J: Yeah.
C: That’s incredible.
J: And that’s why they’re building heavy lift rockets now, to build- to take that stuff up. The Tesla guy and, uh… but… Orbital Science…those guys have the heavy lift rockets.
C: Oh mah gah, yeah.
J: And there the biggest ones ever built now, and thats all- they wanna do that because there’s..there’s a market for it. People will move up there and spent heir honeymoon up there and everything.
C: In space?
J: Yeah. Or they will go up and do research. I would be up there because I have to be to be organize how a city should be. And the…astroid thing is where the money is at.
C: That’s fascinating. Is there already money in that? In the research..the R and D field. Invested…
J: No…yeah, there is big money invested in going there because the asteroids, when they formed, formed in separate globes of metal, because, see, when a planet blows up, ya know, like, our planets, there are different levels, and part of those levels, of this planet, is solid iron. And so you don’t have to process it to make steel you just melt it down and you got it. And other metals are like that too, they stick together in planetary form. But they are broke up into astroids you have to go around to this rock and that rock and each rock has a different preponderance of metal in it. One of those things is gold. One of the astroids they found have more gold in it than has ever been dug on earth in history. Totaled.
C: Woa, so we’re more than doubling the amount of gold, the price of gold would-
J: Yeah, might lose the value of gold but if you trickle it in, ya know, you could do it here, you could drop it in on a balloon…send it into the atmosphere and you’ve got gold here. Or you could bring it down…it’s easier to drop it though.
C: So are most of these miners actually mining, or are they opting for that, bringing it in. I imagine it’d be much cheaper to mine on earth.
J: Yeahhhhh…Well the thing is most of the stuff won’t be brought back to earth. You bring back gold or something, we’re not gonna be bringing that stuff down to earth, it’s too expensive and we don’t need to. Whatcha ya need is ya need that metal in space for manufacturing.
C: Really? You can manufacture in space efficiently without gravity?
J: A lot more efficiently. Ever see a hearing aid, like uh.
C: A hearing aid…?
J: The battery on it?
C: Yeah, they’re tiny.
J: Okay well, you take one of those and what they are is really ion engines; they’re tiny- and they are magnetic, and so you stick ’em on yourself or you stick ’em on what you wanna move. If you want to move big amounts of steel and stuff you just throw a handful on it in the direction you wanna go, they only go one direction, see.
C: And they have…a magnetic pull?
J: No, they are magnetic themselves. And you can move huge objects- the size of this house, with a handful of ’em. And they’re cheap. So you aren’t building rockets, or burning fuel up there.
C: So how do they actually moving it? Just with magnetic pull and push-
J: No, ions shoot out the back.
C: Gotcha.
J: They don’t move very much very fast, but they do move. And it’s directional. You can just pull ’em off and put ’em where you want to to make this huge chucks of metal go where you want it. You don’t need a crane. No bulldozers.
C: So how long do these little batteries run?
J: They’re rechargeable. Sunlight.
C: No kidding? Woa that sounds incredibly efficient.
J: And if you leave ’em on there….you approach the speed of light…
C: …eventually…
J: Eventually. And in the mean time you’ve got all the time in the world. So it’s not only feasible it’s really easy. It’s not a difficult process. What’s difficult is trying to move shit on earth.

(Brief discussion about crane’s used to build skyscrapers. Two fell down in Seattle in 2014 causing damage. People died. Eventually, after a joke about ions batteries, we return to the previous topic.)

J: Yeah, they’re racing to do it* now.
*(mining astroids)
C: Different companies?
J: Companies. Countries. Yeah.
C: So where are these asteroids actually…located. Are they…far away?
J: Mar’s orbit…Mars.
C: Mars? Okay…
J: There is a big chain of them between Mars and Jupiter that go all the way around.* *(The motherfucking astroid belt)
C: But, I mean, we haven’t sent people anywhere near there yet.
J: No…no…ya know that’s the problem. Because there’s a lot of people that don’t want to sent people there. They want to send robots….but I don’t want a fucking robot taking my job.
C: And being…in space with not atmosphere for long periods of time doesn’t bother you? You’re not worried about the metal strain of just…black vacuum all around you?
J: Oh…I don’t think it can make me any weirder than 1,000 trips of acid.
C: Touche.
J: (laugh)
C: Maybe just not the combo of the two…
J: Oh boy, I’m gonna find out.
C: (laugh) That’s fuckng crazy
J: Yeah, I grew up in the 60’s, running around with pods of fucking mescaline. Gunny sacks full of peyote.
C: That’s one way to do it.
J: Truck load of fuckin’ acid.
C: Hot damn.
J: I had fun.
(Conversation moves to Czechoslovakian drug labs)

—-

J: You remind me of myself when I was your age.
C: Yeah?
J: It’s a good thing.

(At which point I had to clean the kitchen and Jim was engaged in another conversation about his orchards.)

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