Canada’s aspiring space miner on building an off-Earth economy: ‘This is going to take a village’

Retro sci-fi art is full of asteroid mining. Dig through a library or bookstore shelf of vintage science-fiction titles and you’ll find graceful tugs flitting between comets, skeletal spaceborne drilling rigs anchored to ancient rock — even the odd astronaut picking away at ore by hand.Daniel Sax, co-founder and CEO of the Canadian Space Mining Corporation, is still working on how exactly a mining corporation will extract the valuable oxygen, water, and ore needed to sustain an economy in space. But to him and his co-founder, Dieter MacPherson, the need is obvious. A new space race is heating up and the pair feel as though Canada is being left in the dust.The Star spoke to Sax about the business case for asteroid mining, the Outer Space Treaty, and why the cannabis and oil and gas industries might be fertile ground for space industry recruits:You announced the creation of the Canadian Space Mining Corporation in a tweet — I recall seeing it. Tell me about your vision.The vision is pretty simple. We see a big gap on what’s happening in space. You’ve got all of this new innovation and launch market, but there’s really a gating factor to scaling. By the time you get to space, you’ve pretty much run out of fuel with our current space technology. That’s a function of the Earth’s gravity. So in order to scale off-planet, we’re going to have to make a new supply chain that is outside of Earth’s gravity. That’s really what we’re focused on. There is, within the lunar regolith — or soil — oxygen and water, and we’re planning to extract that and create a new supply chain off-planet for spaceship refuelling, satellite refuelling, and the like.This is perhaps a stupid question — but why bother mining the stuff if there’s plenty of it on Earth? Is there any way to make it more cost-effective to just bring more?It’s not that there’s a lack of water on Earth. It’s that you burn up all your fuel just carrying fuel up there. Elon Musk’s new Starship, for example, is supposedly a 10-to-1 refuelling ratio on orbit — so you’ll have to fly 10 of them up just to refuel one that’s run out of fuel by the time it got up there. That’s inefficient from a scaling perspective.Where did you get the idea for the Canadian Space Mining Corporation?Well, people have looked at space mining and in-situ resource utilization for the past half-century or so. Dieter MacPherson had an idea related to helium on Earth and that got us talking about where else we could locate helium. Then, in looking at the moon for a source of helium, we realized that there was actually a market for water. You had NASA and everyone else going back to the moon over the next couple of years to settle it permanently. And what was really needed was someone to produce this supply off-planet.So you think selling water, oxygen, and fuel is going to cover the cost of getting up their and setting up in-situ in the first place?Yeah. Look, it’s theoretically possible to do it more profitably than it would be to send those supplies from Earth. How that plays out over the next 10 or 15 years, I can’t exactly tell you. There’s a mix of government finance as well as private capital going into it.Why should investors trust that you can actually make a profit for them?When I say I don’t know how it’s going to work out in 15 years ... there are a lot of moving parts. Nobody knows how that’s going to play out. All we do know is that the world is going back to the moon. China wants to open up a moon base in 2025. The U.S. and NASA are putting up Gateway in 2025 — the new space station in lunar orbit. What is needed is partners to go and set up the actual in-situ resource utilization. So, using the resource where they are in their place.Someone is doing it. The ship has already left. Canada is not on that ship. The resource industry is, in many ways, the lifeblood of this country and we are about to drop the ball as a country and be left behind. There’s the Chinese government, as well as Russia, and other competitors like ispace, out of Japan.Neither you nor MacPherson, your business partner, have any background in space. Why did you get into this industry?The shortage in the Canadian space industry is not talented engineers. It’s big thinkers. We’ve created an ecosystem where we’ve got a lot of people dreaming up very small businesses to make parts and be instrument suppliers. We think differently. We’re going after the big opportunity here and trying to create a Canadian industry. We think that’s our advantage. We see a lot of similarities with other businesses — and, quite frankly, we think a little outside the box from the perspective of the space industry.The 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which Canada signed, prohibits commercial space mining for the moon and other asteroids — to my understanding. How is what you’re hoping to do legal?That’s an evolving situation at the international level. So, the Outer Space Treaty is the main document at the UN level, but Canada and the U.S. and other

Canada’s aspiring space miner on building an off-Earth economy: ‘This is going to take a village’

Retro sci-fi art is full of asteroid mining. Dig through a library or bookstore shelf of vintage science-fiction titles and you’ll find graceful tugs flitting between comets, skeletal spaceborne drilling rigs anchored to ancient rock — even the odd astronaut picking away at ore by hand.

Daniel Sax, co-founder and CEO of the Canadian Space Mining Corporation, is still working on how exactly a mining corporation will extract the valuable oxygen, water, and ore needed to sustain an economy in space. But to him and his co-founder, Dieter MacPherson, the need is obvious. A new space race is heating up and the pair feel as though Canada is being left in the dust.

The Star spoke to Sax about the business case for asteroid mining, the Outer Space Treaty, and why the cannabis and oil and gas industries might be fertile ground for space industry recruits:

You announced the creation of the Canadian Space Mining Corporation in a tweet — I recall seeing it. Tell me about your vision.

The vision is pretty simple. We see a big gap on what’s happening in space. You’ve got all of this new innovation and launch market, but there’s really a gating factor to scaling. By the time you get to space, you’ve pretty much run out of fuel with our current space technology. That’s a function of the Earth’s gravity. So in order to scale off-planet, we’re going to have to make a new supply chain that is outside of Earth’s gravity. That’s really what we’re focused on. There is, within the lunar regolith — or soil — oxygen and water, and we’re planning to extract that and create a new supply chain off-planet for spaceship refuelling, satellite refuelling, and the like.

This is perhaps a stupid question — but why bother mining the stuff if there’s plenty of it on Earth? Is there any way to make it more cost-effective to just bring more?

It’s not that there’s a lack of water on Earth. It’s that you burn up all your fuel just carrying fuel up there. Elon Musk’s new Starship, for example, is supposedly a 10-to-1 refuelling ratio on orbit — so you’ll have to fly 10 of them up just to refuel one that’s run out of fuel by the time it got up there. That’s inefficient from a scaling perspective.

Where did you get the idea for the Canadian Space Mining Corporation?

Well, people have looked at space mining and in-situ resource utilization for the past half-century or so. Dieter MacPherson had an idea related to helium on Earth and that got us talking about where else we could locate helium. Then, in looking at the moon for a source of helium, we realized that there was actually a market for water. You had NASA and everyone else going back to the moon over the next couple of years to settle it permanently. And what was really needed was someone to produce this supply off-planet.

So you think selling water, oxygen, and fuel is going to cover the cost of getting up their and setting up in-situ in the first place?

Yeah. Look, it’s theoretically possible to do it more profitably than it would be to send those supplies from Earth. How that plays out over the next 10 or 15 years, I can’t exactly tell you. There’s a mix of government finance as well as private capital going into it.

Why should investors trust that you can actually make a profit for them?

When I say I don’t know how it’s going to work out in 15 years ... there are a lot of moving parts. Nobody knows how that’s going to play out. All we do know is that the world is going back to the moon. China wants to open up a moon base in 2025. The U.S. and NASA are putting up Gateway in 2025 — the new space station in lunar orbit. What is needed is partners to go and set up the actual in-situ resource utilization. So, using the resource where they are in their place.

Someone is doing it. The ship has already left. Canada is not on that ship. The resource industry is, in many ways, the lifeblood of this country and we are about to drop the ball as a country and be left behind. There’s the Chinese government, as well as Russia, and other competitors like ispace, out of Japan.

Neither you nor MacPherson, your business partner, have any background in space. Why did you get into this industry?

The shortage in the Canadian space industry is not talented engineers. It’s big thinkers. We’ve created an ecosystem where we’ve got a lot of people dreaming up very small businesses to make parts and be instrument suppliers. We think differently. We’re going after the big opportunity here and trying to create a Canadian industry. We think that’s our advantage. We see a lot of similarities with other businesses — and, quite frankly, we think a little outside the box from the perspective of the space industry.

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which Canada signed, prohibits commercial space mining for the moon and other asteroids — to my understanding. How is what you’re hoping to do legal?

That’s an evolving situation at the international level. So, the Outer Space Treaty is the main document at the UN level, but Canada and the U.S. and other countries signed the Artemis Accords in October 2020 — principles for commercial use of extraterrestrial resources. There is a snowballing consensus at a global level with the Artemis Accords as more countries signed. And then there are a bunch of countries that have passed space-mining laws over the past couple of years, including Luxembourg, Japan, the U.S., and the U.A.E.

This is a situation that’s rapidly evolving, and that’s one of the parallels between space and the cannabis industry — having been through a changing regulatory landscape. This is really about navigating the regulatory change. We’re already in conversations with the Canadian government as to what the best next steps are to take, but this is something we’re going to have to figure out in partnership with them.

What do those conversations with the Canadian government look like?

I can’t really get into that. But we’re speaking with multiple levels of government about creating a space resources industry in Canada and being proactive in protecting the resource industry. There could be paradigm shifts in mining technology that happen in the next 10 years due to space mining. If the Canadian economy does not participate, we could lose competitiveness. Space mining is something that would make oil and gas look like a cakewalk.

Would you hope to get Canadian oil and gas expertise into a space industry? Is there crossover with what you’re hoping to do?

Yeah, for sure. Alberta and what’s happened in Canada are large-scale infrastructure projects that are extremely complex. We see tons of human capital that are really stranded in that industry — and we see this as a great opportunity for retooling Alberta.

Have you developed any processes to extract oxygen and water? Is that still a work in progress?

There’s been a lot of international work on solutions there. These things have been done at a small scale. It’s a question now of scaling it up.

Right — so how are you hoping to scale? What are your plans as a company to actually make this happen?

Our plans are pretty simple. We’re working with strategic partners with the right kind of expertise, technology, et cetera for this mission. We’re working with academia and we’re working with governments. This isn’t something we’re going to do on our own. That would be insane. This is going to take a village so we’re pulling all those parties together to wrap this together. This is really about moving the needle for civilization.

If academia is bringing some of the ideas and you’re getting partners and government together — what do you bring to the table?

Really, we see the problem as a capitalization problem, a project management problem, and a willpower problem. Having a bunch of companies willing to make individual parts is not going to get the whole problem done. It’s about pulling it together, capitalizing it, and having the willpower to actually do it and then manage those various pieces.

A personal question — Star Trek or Star Wars?

I’m personally a Star Wars guy. I’d say Dieter is definitely a Star Trek guy.

Have you always wanted to pursue a space-related career?

Dieter has been a lifelong space nerd. For me, this was a conversation we had last summer, and it just snowballed from there. I’ve always been super fascinated by the universe and faucets of it. All of that stuff has always been intellectually fascinating to me, but no, I never expected to be in this position. This is the ultimate pandemic twist for me. Some people do puzzles. Others start space companies.

Source : Toronto Star More   

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Raptors fans fuming after sources reveal Edward Rogers wanted to dump Masai Ujiri

In a Star exclusive, sources revealed that Edward Rogers actively fought against plans to keep Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri as head of the team, saying he wasn’t worth the price tag.This comes on the heels of the very public boardroom brawling at Rogers Communications Inc., one of the country’s largest telecom companies, that has spilled out into the public realm. The company now has two groups claiming to be in control after Edward Rogers was voted out as chairman of the board in a move supported by his mother and siblings. Over the weekend, Rogers says he was re-elected as board chair by a group of newly-selected board members. His sister, Martha Rogers, has been actively tweeting about the internal feuding and said, “this should be taken as seriously as if he appointed himself the King of England.” Behind the scenes during contract talks After weeks of negotiations with Ujiri that began in mid-July, both MLSE chair Larry Tanenbaum and Bell were on board with offering Ujiri a sweetened package that included incentive pay tied to a future increase in value of the Raptors — he had already added $500 million in value to the franchise since his arrival in 2013, taken the team to the playoffs in every year prior to the pandemic and won the NBA championship in 2019.Several sources told the Star that some time after a meeting with Ujiri, Rogers called Ujiri and told him he wasn’t worth the money he was being paid. The NBA source said the call left Ujiri feeling so angry and disrespected by Rogers that he considered taking a year off as president of the Raptors.Sources also revealed Rogers called Ujiri arrogant, saying he failed to share his vision for the team.To the relief of Toronto fans in a city that the Raptors president and vice-chairman calls “home,” the team announced on Aug. 5 that Ujiri was staying on as head of basketball operations for the Raptors.The Raptors play at home Monday night against former teammate Demar DeRozan and the Chicago Bulls, with fans on Twitter already co-ordinating ‘f--k Ed Rogers’ chants ahead of tipoff. Here’s what people are saying about the Star’s exclusive:One user referenced Edward Rogers’ recent rise in notoriety “from obscurity to the most hated man in Toronto.”Another user said not recognizing the true value of Ujiri was “the most Ed Rogers thing ever.”Canadian actor Tara Spencer-Narin expressed her criticism of Rogers and said, “Masai is worth every penny.”One Twitter user shared a gif of someone typing on their laptop while chewing gum and tweeted, “Masai stan’s filling out Rogers online forms to cancel any and all subscriptions this morning.”Other Twitter users expressed disbelief that Masai decided to stay in the end, considering the opposition he faced despite winning a championship for the franchise and city. Some Twitter users are questioning the evaluation of Masai’s “worth,” asking if whether the same conversation would have taken place were he not a person of colour. With files from Christine Dobby and Doug Smith.Simran Singh is a reporter for the Star's radio room based in Toronto. Reach Simran via email: simransingh@thestar.caIvy Mak is a team editor on the Star's breaking news desk, based in Toronto. Reach her via email: ivymak@thestar.ca

Raptors fans fuming after sources reveal Edward Rogers wanted to dump Masai Ujiri

In a Star exclusive, sources revealed that Edward Rogers actively fought against plans to keep Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri as head of the team, saying he wasn’t worth the price tag.

This comes on the heels of the very public boardroom brawling at Rogers Communications Inc., one of the country’s largest telecom companies, that has spilled out into the public realm.

The company now has two groups claiming to be in control after Edward Rogers was voted out as chairman of the board in a move supported by his mother and siblings. Over the weekend, Rogers says he was re-elected as board chair by a group of newly-selected board members. His sister, Martha Rogers, has been actively tweeting about the internal feuding and said, “this should be taken as seriously as if he appointed himself the King of England.”

Behind the scenes during contract talks

After weeks of negotiations with Ujiri that began in mid-July, both MLSE chair Larry Tanenbaum and Bell were on board with offering Ujiri a sweetened package that included incentive pay tied to a future increase in value of the Raptors — he had already added $500 million in value to the franchise since his arrival in 2013, taken the team to the playoffs in every year prior to the pandemic and won the NBA championship in 2019.

Several sources told the Star that some time after a meeting with Ujiri, Rogers called Ujiri and told him he wasn’t worth the money he was being paid. The NBA source said the call left Ujiri feeling so angry and disrespected by Rogers that he considered taking a year off as president of the Raptors.

Sources also revealed Rogers called Ujiri arrogant, saying he failed to share his vision for the team.

To the relief of Toronto fans in a city that the Raptors president and vice-chairman calls “home,” the team announced on Aug. 5 that Ujiri was staying on as head of basketball operations for the Raptors.

The Raptors play at home Monday night against former teammate Demar DeRozan and the Chicago Bulls, with fans on Twitter already co-ordinating ‘f--k Ed Rogers’ chants ahead of tipoff.

Here’s what people are saying about the Star’s exclusive:

One user referenced Edward Rogers’ recent rise in notoriety “from obscurity to the most hated man in Toronto.”

Another user said not recognizing the true value of Ujiri was “the most Ed Rogers thing ever.”

Canadian actor Tara Spencer-Narin expressed her criticism of Rogers and said, “Masai is worth every penny.”

One Twitter user shared a gif of someone typing on their laptop while chewing gum and tweeted, “Masai stan’s filling out Rogers online forms to cancel any and all subscriptions this morning.”

Other Twitter users expressed disbelief that Masai decided to stay in the end, considering the opposition he faced despite winning a championship for the franchise and city.

Some Twitter users are questioning the evaluation of Masai’s “worth,” asking if whether the same conversation would have taken place were he not a person of colour.

With files from Christine Dobby and Doug Smith.

Simran Singh is a reporter for the Star's radio room based in Toronto. Reach Simran via email: simransingh@thestar.ca

Ivy Mak is a team editor on the Star's breaking news desk, based in Toronto. Reach her via email: ivymak@thestar.ca

Source : Toronto Star More   

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