Gathering Resources

Gathering Resources

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Audiobook: 6 minutes

Artistic rendition of the Asteroid Belt
An Artistic rendition of the Asteroid Belt. Source: WorldAtlas (opens in a new tab)

Necessary resources

As you might have guessed, we need a lot of materials. The easiest way to get them without having to land, harvest and start resource rockets from a nearby planet would be either to build a slingshot from a planet or to look somewhere we don't have to leave the void of space to get materials from. Actually, let's not completely disregard the first option. We'll come back to that later and you'll find out why we want to preserve this for another future endeavour.

Apart from building blocks, we also need water, for life support of construction workers, althought they might already be purely robotic at this point in time, agriculture, mineralogical and chemical processes of resource processing as well as for fuel production.

Gotcha, we need both building blocks and water, so let's check if asteroids would be able to supply us with both of them.

Types of asteroids

First of all, there is 5 different types of asteroids that could be interesting for us:

  • C-Types: Carbonaceous chondrites, containing carbon, water and minerals.
  • D-Types: Asteroids with water ice on their inside
  • M-Types: Consisting of iron, nickel and platinum
  • S-Types: Metallic iron mixed with iron- and magnesium-silicates
  • Extinct Comets: Source of water and organic material

From the thawed ice, water and oxygen can be extracted by electrolysis. However, only a small percentage of asteroids are considered potential carriers of this water ice, so we will have to look somewhere else for water. As a small consolation, the asteroid belt is quite suitable for mining rocks that we can use to build our Space Habs.

The search for water

Where do we start looking? The closest object that could be considered a possible source of water for the near-earth part of the solar system is Mars' moon, Deimos. The surface of Deimos is very dark, resembling that of carbonaceous asteroids. However, there is no trace of features indicating chemically bound water.

Color-enhanced view of Deimos
Color-enhanced view of Deimos. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech (opens in a new tab)

Water is called "chemically bound" when it is incorporated into the structure of a solid body - e.g. in moist damp apartments in which water got into the walls. Chemically bound water can result from interstitial water being heated to a temperature sufficient to bind the water to a nearby solid. Then again interstitial water describes liquid water that is trapped inside a cavity of another body. This might be abit much, but our learning here is:

If there ever was water inside of Deimos, it didn't get chemically bound to it. Due to it's low density, it is assumed that Deimos was once one of the above mentioned "D-type" asteroids, holding water (ice) on their inside. Due to these hints towards the hypothesis that Deimos might be the nearest cosmis supplier of water in our solar system, David Kuch first presented his proposal to establish a "Deimos Water Company" to supply near-earth space with the valuable resource in 1998. Kuck relies on "Kuck Mosquitoes" to "suck" the water out of Deimos for this implementation.

Kuck Mosquitoes as envisioned by  David Kuck
Kuck Mosquitoes as envisioned by David Kuck. Source: Space Future (opens in a new tab)

These small, unmanned spacecraft are supposed to consist of not much more than drilling rigs, heating elements and a storage tank. They fly to Deimos to extract water and use a small part of the extracted water as fuel for takeoff.


If we're trying to build massive Space Habs from asteroids, over time we'll have to make a lot of trips all around the solar system. Isn't that going to be very expensive, both in terms of fuel and money? Probably, but we'll be able to cut it down to some degree by utilizing the Interplanetary Transport Network.

Interplanetary Transport Network

This is not an interstellar version of the german Autobahn as the name suggests but rather a transport network consisting of a collection of gravitational forces from different bodies in our solar system. Together, these form a means of travel for objects that requires very little energy. Any object that doesn't use propulsion to create thrust would thereby travel around two bodies at a time at their so called "Lagrange points".

Lagrange points

Lagrange points, named after the Italian-French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange, are specific points in the gravitational field of two celestial bodies where a small object can maintain a stable position relative to those bodies without requiring any propulsion or thrust. These points are positions of gravitational equilibrium, where the gravitational forces exerted by the two larger bodies balance the centrifugal force experienced by the smaller object.

The Interplanetary Transport Network
The Interplanetary Transport Network. Source: NASA (opens in a new tab)

A common approach is to use Lagrange points as "parking orbits" or "waypoints" for satellites to change the satellite's trajectory and redirect it towards its intended destination. For example, a spacecraft on a mission to explore the outer planets can use the Lagrange points associated with the planets it encounters (such as Jupiter's Lagrange points) to adjust its trajectory and gain a gravitational assist.

This technique allows the spacecraft to gain momentum from the planet's gravitational pull, effectively "slingshotting" around it to increase its speed and conserve fuel.


We can potentially gather water by sending Kuck Mosquitoes to Mars' moon Deimos and we can extract the building blocks for our Space Habs from asteroids in the asteroid belt of our solar system. We also found out there's a cost-effective way to send them wherever we want.

But is all of that even feasible? Is there enough asteroids? Continue reading to find out. 💁‍♂️

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Additional Resources

  1. If you want to learn more about David Kuck's idea to use Deimos as a source of water, check out the detailed article on SpaceFuture about it.
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  3. Scott Manley made a concise and visually communicative video explaining Lagrange Points if you feel you didn't quite get the point of them yet.