Monday, July 12, 2010

Space Crack

Back in 2006 Elon Musk famously said:
"I don't believe in the mining of stuff in space. The transportation costs are so horrendously high that I don't think there's anything… if there were packages of purified crack cocaine in orbit right now, I'm not sure it would be financially viable to go and retrieve them"
Which is ironic when you consider that it was at the unveiling of the Dragon that he made this famous quote. According to a recent presentation a Falcon 9/Dragon flight for robotic servicing would cost ~$80M. This includes launch vehicle, Dragon spacecraft, operations and recovery. It doesn't include the robotic arm, so let's include $5M for that.



The Dragon has a downmass of 3000kg. Per kg, that's $28,330. The street value of cocaine hydrochloride powder is $80-$100 per gram, or ~$80,000 per kg.

As such, in just 4 years SpaceX has managed to make the Space Crack market profitable.

(and Platinum $49,187/kg, and Gold $38,838/kg).

6 comments:

  1. Now if only we could grow coca in space...

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  2. Trent, add this up: Heavy lift rockets (SpaceX) + Boosted electric demands and energy conversion expertise (Tesla Motors) + Solar panel and electrical expertise (Solar City) = ?????

    Is Musk in stealth mode building a Space Based Solar Energy system?

    Movhael laine

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  3. Well, if you look at that same article I linked to, he specifically says he thinks Space Solar Power is unworkable.

    But there are plenty of people floating around who believe in it and are getting venture capital interest.

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  4. Once upon a time I did not believe that Space Solar Power would work. Now I think the idea has significant potential.

    The only thing I have not resolved in my mind is what happens when any object plows thru a section of solar panel? Does anyone know?

    Also, has anyone done any study regarding the reduction of sunlight hitting the earth? Is it significant?

    What about putting the panels closer to the Sun a la Asimov?

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  5. I guess the take-home of the article is that there are things we value enough to import from space.
    Also, if a mass driver were constructed, we could be talking about a gift that keeps on giving.

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  6. A mass driver? I'm guessing you mean on the Moon. I've yet to see a design for one that is actually within our technological capabilities. The original O'Neill designs were on the order of Japanese-high-speed-train which the US can't even sell terrestrially. I actually think spinning Lunavators are more workable at the moment.

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