it's extremely rare on Earth ... $2 Billion is not the limit of demand, it's the limit of supply
Do you have evidence for a large pent-up demand for deuterium that would be released by a price drop of less than five times? (That would take it down to about the price of silver.)
No. Nor would I be stupid enough to assume the price would drop just because the supply increases (processing cost may not drop). Do you have any evidence to support your claim that the price is based soley on demand? Evidence for the absurd assertion that the cost would drop to the same a silver if the supply increased by a factor five?
Hint: nobody makes anything other than tiny amounts of deuterium anymore - not due to lack of demand. (the last supplier was Canada some years ago - though at least one Chinese source is gearing up for production).
the two would be of value for fueling fusion rockets
That's a technology that does not currently exist, and which might not actually use deuterium or tritium when/if it finally gets going.
less than one tenth of what the USA spends annually on the bullshit War on Drugs
This is an irrelevant point of comparison. I'm asking for a business case; you can claim anything is "economically viable" if you're allowed to just steal something else' budget. That argument doesn't tend to convince the people who actually control such budgets, though.
Patently and demonstrably you did not ask for a business case - you just conflated the cost of the theoretical mission with government spending and are now distract. It's hardly irrelevant, it demonstrates what the US government is happy to spend on a demonstrably pointless exercise.
it's just a by-product of potable water production.
This is a ridiculous statement which suggests that you have no idea how deuterium is actually refined,
:) Which only goes to show you are yet another ultracrepidarian /. poster. Perhaps you are a mechanical engineer that thinks industrial chemical engineering is intuitive - good luck with the job interviews.
Extracting it on Mars will require dedicated machinery and tons of additional energy, just like on Earth.
No. Read the source I provided instead of relying of what you skim-read from someone else's outdated opinion.
Red Herring alert! Can you point to the source of your claim that this fleet won't be waiting for results from surface probes (and many robotic test trips)?!
Musk already decided that we should send one million people there to build a self-sustaining society, even though he himself admitted that he doesn't have any idea how to make that latter part work economically or technologically. That was half the point of his talk...
That's a quote from you, which avoids my question. When did Mush say he wouldn't wait for surface probe results?. Hint: he didn't.
So in your alternative plan all space exploration will be using theoretical propulsion that starts from this planet ... environmentally friendly and sustainable
Electric propulsion (various styles of ion engines and plasma engines) is not "theoretical" - it's in use today on space probes and even commercial satellites - unlike the deuterium-based fusion that your plans seem to depend upon. And yes, it is more environmentally friendly and sustainable because it's literally about ten times as fuel efficient as chemical rockets.
There are various good reasons why Musk didn't select electric propulsion for his proposal, but they mostly revolve around his fixation on putting tons of human beings on the surface of Mars. For mining the Main Belt, most of his reasons do not apply.
Present technology - with which I'm familiar (and not just from reading /.) is too slow for human transport - but viable for unmanned (or short manned) transport.
I guess that'll push up the price aluminium, good plan
??? What does this have to do with anything I said? Electric engines can run on pretty much any elemental propellant (as long as it's not too reactive), including abundant hydrogen, or any of the noble gases. My proposal almost certainly uses less aluminium than Musk's, since it requires less total up-mass and aerospace stuff tends to use a lot of aluminium for structural purposes.
[sigh]Musk's transports are resusable - what are you wrapping your (imaginary) rockets in? Unicorn farts?
I'm somewhat familiar with large scale mining and I find your remote mining of asteroids "controlled from Earth, intriguing. I wonder why we don't do that now instead of FIFO to humpies in the Pilbara??
Are you really that clueless that you don't understand that Pilbara is an orders of magnitude cheaper place to send and sustain human life than any asteroid, or Mars?
The more expensive it is to send people to the job site, and keep them alive once they get there, the higher the economic incentive to figure out how to automate the job. Many jobs that could be done most cheaply by people on Earth are cheaper with automation in space.
True - to a point. The point where armchair speculation about what the percentage of gearing ratio is onsite labour in the Pilbara, meets reality (it's around 70%). It's enourmously expensive to fly workers in and out and house them in the Pilbara - it's much cheaper to mine remotely (it's been tried, and we'll keep trying). And we'd do it if it saved only a few hundred thousand - but things go wrong (always) - it's still cheaper to send (extra) engineers and workers in only when things go wrong, but the cost of interrupted production is the reason why we don't do it. tl;dr? We don't remotely mine the Pilbara because it's not signficantly cheaper - it's because interruption to the supply chain is a much higher cost. That's not theory or conjecture - there in lies the difference of "opinion".
I'm "guessing" that with limited launch windows from Earth available to workers and engineers that would need to be sent to fix things if remote asteroid mining go - and much longer production chains, that real life factor would increase. From an armchair it may sound cheaper to send remote mining equipment to asteroids - but in real life it'd be a poor investment.
And it's not like there are any viable alternatives
The viable alternative is to stay on Earth unless and until we have the technology to establish a truly self-sustaining, or otherwise economically viable, colony elsewhere.
[cough] That's not an "alternative" (therefore it cannot be "viable") - it's just the (current) situation. Until we develop (and test) the required technology (if it's possible).
Musk himself already admitted in his presentation that we don't have that tech today; he's just hoping someone else will invent it before the ITS is ready.
Where's the problem with that (especially seeing as someone else may be employed by him)??
Why is he doing this? Because he knows he'll probably die within a few decades, at most, and he's impatient enough that he can't stand just waiting for the tech to mature.
Was there a point to that statement?
(Note that I am arguing against premature large-scale colonization, not exploration or technology development. Sending some people to visit Mars soon is a reasonable goal; sending a million to stay probably isn't.)
I suspect he's not serious about making the primary mission to populate Mars with a million people. If it's possible to send return robot missions to Mars (and land) - then the technological advancements will be of enormous value, and, it would make the scenario he describes worthwhile doing (because we can do useful work there). More worthwhile than a similar mission to the Moon (the space equivalent of a mission to Easter Island).
I believe Elon is correct in thinking he can find passengers that will pay for the opportunity - you seem to be arguing that his idea doesn't serve your agenda.
I think he's correct too, if he can achieve the super-low prices he claims. BUT, those prices only cover transportation - they don't cover all the stuff you need to stay alive once you get there, and SpaceX isn't even claiming to know what all that other stuff will cost.
Agreed. If he claimed he could price everything I'd be dumping Tesla shares this minute. Perhaps you've confused his speech with the launch of ticket sales....
Gravity is not a reason why it shouldn't be used
It absolutely is a reason not to use it as a trading post on the way to the Main Belt like you proposed. Gravity might or might not be a reason not to use Mars for the resources available on the surface - it depends on whether there's an easier place to get those same resources, instead (like Earth...).
Unless we re-engineer the human body any space colony will be short lived. With present technology (and resources), large scale mining of asteroids from Earth is not something I'd invest in (and I don't do /. armchair investing in mining). What you do with your investments, is your business.