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Frontier Space Industries Concept of Operations

Posted by John Christoph
Frontier Space Industries is a team competing in the 2012 Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge in the Aerospace Exploration category. This is an annual competition for high-school students around the world to develop products or services that will benefit aerospace exploration, clean energy, or health and nutrition. Frontier Space Industries has five members, all of whom are high-school seniors from the state of Virginia. We are all graduates of the 2011 Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars program run through the Virginia Spacegrant Consortium and NASA Langley Research Center. Through this program, we worked together to design a manned mission to Mars while studying college-level aerospace engineering, orbital mechanics, planetary science, engineering ethics, and many other STEM disciplines. Our mission, as detailed in this video, is to create an economically viable system for mining the raw materials required by global industry from asteroids. This idea has been contemplated by futurists and science fiction writers for decades, but no effort has yet been made to put it into practice. Despite this fact, we intend to demonstrate that it is an economically viable idea with current technology, and it can only become more feasible in the near future as the scarcity of global resources increases and the cost of space launch decreases. The only real barrier to implementing an asteroid mining operation is the initial investment, however once this is overcome, the profits will be tremendous. As of January, 2012, Frontier Space Industries has made it to the semi-final round of the competition, and is one of seventeen teams around the world competing for five finalist slots in our category. Each of those finalist teams will travel to NASA Ames Research Center in California to present their proposal to top scientists, industry leaders, and other experts in aerospace exploration and other fields. Many finalists from previoius years have succeeded in turning their proposals into actual products, while others have obtained patents or licensed their ideas to private companies. One team even succeeded in having their product, a space nutrient bar, fly aboard the International Space Station. In addition, the winning team in each category receives $5,000 in seed grant money to continue development of their idea. Regardless of how well we do in this competition, we will continue to pursue the goal of commercial asteroid mining well into the future, and we hope to one day make it a reality.
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