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Space Future has been on something of a hiatus of late. With the concept of Space Tourism steadily increasing in acceptance, and the advances of commercial space, much of our purpose could be said to be achieved. But this industry is still nascent, and there's much to do. this space.
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D L Kuck, May 1997, "The Deimos Water Company", Presented at Space Manufacturing II, SSI, Princeton. 8 May 1997.
Also downloadable from deimos water company.shtml

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The Deimos Water Company
David L Kuck
Deimos, the outer moon of Mars, is presently the only probable early known accessible source of water to LEO (Low Earth Orbit) or HEEO (Highly Eccentric Earth Orbit). It is the most accessible small body that is "geophysically" anomalous for outgassing in the inner solar system, and thus is a probable source for water ice. Water is needed in LEO and Martian exploration for propellant, life support, and as a chemical and physical process media. None of the above will be accomplished unless it is for a profit.

At the present time everything in LEO has the value of gold at $379.00/oz or $10,000.00/kg. If present published estimates are correct, this will decline in the future to about $37.90/oz or $1,000.00/kg by about the year 2010. The sooner water can be supplied to LEO from sources in space, the larger the selling price that can be obtained. One hundred tonnes of water ice at LEO in the year 2000 will have a value of roughly $1,000,000,000.00, and roughly $100,000,000.00 in the year 2010. The markets will be Mir, the Space Station and possibly a proposed orbiting hotel proposed by Japan for a tourist industry in this time frame.

Space is the driest of deserts! In a desert, no resource is of any value unless there is water, first for life support, and then to process the resource. With water everything is possible. Without water nothing is possible (K). Water is used for life support, propellants, chemical and mineralogical processing. We are mostly water.

Water, the source and sustainer of life on Earth, is a very rare commodity in our solar system, while ice is plentiful. Sixty percent of the fresh water is tied up as ice at the poles and in alpine glaciers. Our understanding of the role and behavior of ices (water, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, methane ices, etc.) will be of fundamental importance as humans move out from Earth (D).

The large bulk of mass placed in orbit is low-technology materials, mainly propellant. These might be obtained from the Moon, nearby asteroids or Phobos and Deimos. The real killer for the Moon is the fuel needed for the 3 km/sec take-off delta-v. From LEO the outbound delta-V to some asteroids is as little as 4.5 km/sec (compared with 6 km/sec for the Moon), and for some asteroids the return to LEO would only require 0.06 km/sec. Availability of propellants on nearby bodies in space is of crucial importance (L1).


In 1964 Dandridge M. Cole and Donald W. Cox published Islands in Space, about the importance of resources from nearby asteroids. Cox and Cole also point out the importance of Phobos and Deimos as sources of propellant and mineral resources (L1).

Another function of automated (unmanned) materials-processing experiments, such as the process proposed by Kuck in 1995, is to test them on recovering water as well as recovering about 100 kg of Deimos rock as drill cuttings.

May 30, 1971 Mariner 9 blasted off and rendezvoused with Mars on November 13. It arrived during planetary dust storms but photo-graphed Phobos and Deimos and eventually the Martian surface (L1).

Semi-major orbit axis: 23,459 km (14,577 mi)
Orbit eccentricity: 0.00052
Orbit inclination: 1.82 deg
period: hrs, 17 min, 55 sec
Diameters: 7.5km x 6.0km x 5.5km
Rotation: synchronous
Density: approx. 2 gm/cm3
Mass: 2.0 x 1012 tonnes
Mean surface gravity: approx. 10-3g
Escape velocity: approx. 10 m/sec

Deimos (the outer moon of Mars) should have water ice at depth. Deimos is accessible every 26 months (L1).

Velocity Changes for Missions in the Mars system (L1)

Mission delta-V

Mars to Low Mars Orbit (LMO) 4.4
LMO to Phobos 0.54
LMO to Deimos 0.87
LMO to Mars 0.05
LMO to escape 1.43
LMO to Earth return 3.42
Deimos to Phobos 0.74
Deimos to LMO or Mars 0.67
Deimos to escape 0.56
Deimos to Earth return 2.55

A comparison of delta-Vs in km/sec follows.

- to LEO Trip Time LEO to - Trip Time
delta-V Days delta-V Days

Lunar Base 6.2 3 3.2 3
Deimos 5.6 270 1.8 270
Mars 4.8 270 5.7 270
delta-V for Transfers from LEO (L1)

The minimum velocity change (delta-V, in kilometers per second) and trip time in days required to reach each of these destinations to and from LEO is displayed for comparison. Deimos is still more accessible than the Moon (L1). Anthony Zuppero proposes using extraterrestrial water based propellant for boosting vehicles from non-orbital trajectories to LEO by rendezvous with a space tug which will propel it to LEO (Z). The space tug operating on exofuel would descend from orbit to just above Earth's atmosphere and grab onto whatever had arranged to be there at the right moment. An airplane, for example, could lob either itself or a payload pod into the sky to have it snatched away. The tug would then boost itself into space, pulling the cargo along with it. To snatch a payload traveling at Mach 10 would require to or three kilograms of exofuel per kilogram of payload (Z).

Other possible markets for water based propellants in LEO are refuelling the shuttle for trips to GEO to retrieve and replace out of service communication satellites, or for excursions around the moon like Apollo 8. Propellants for trips to the Near-Earth asteroids, both manned and unmanned could be supplied from Deimos.

Deimos, the outer moon of Mars, is possibly the most accessible source of water to LEO. Lewis has shown the delta-V to go from LEO to Deimos is less than that needed to land on Earth's Moon. Partial loss of velocity at Mars might be obtained by a shallow dip into the Martian atmosphere. The delta-V to return from Deimos to HEEO (Highly eccentric Earth orbit) is very small. The travel time is roughly two years. The Moon may be used as an aid to accelerate and decelerate a vehicle as it leaves LEO and arrives at HEEO. Shallow penetration of the Earth's atmosphere may be used to loose velocity and aid in capture into HEEO.

delta-V's and trip times between LEO and the surface of the Moon, Deimos and Phobos (L1)


Surface to LEO
time of
LEO to Surface
time of
Body (m/sec)(d) (m/sec)(d)

Phobos/Deimos 5600 270 1800 270
Moon 6000 3 3100 3
Mars 4800 270 5700 270

Phobos and Deimos are more accessible more often than any known asteroids (O). A disadvantage of Deimos is the 26 month delay between launch opportunities.

The surfaces of Phobos and Deimos are very dark like carbonaceous asteroids, but they lack a detectable absorption feature due to chemically bound water (L2). This does not preclude interstitial water, only chemically combined water, such as in phylosilicates. This fits with the classification of Deimos as a type D body, which may never have been heated to a temperature adequate to hydro-thermally form phylosilicates. Carbonaceous type C chondrites are divided into sub-classes P, D, RD, T, F, G and B. Only in the middle asteroid belt were bodies heated enough after accretion to melt the ice and create hydrated silicates through the action "groundwater" protected from the vacuum of space by a permafrost layer. In the P-class and D-class asteroids, ice is still present and was never mobilized. Deimos contains water as permafrost even though the surface is anhydrous (B).

Hartman has reported that Phobos, Deimos and some NEAs are class "D" bodies which originated near the orbit of Jupiter at 5.2 AU. Ice is stable at this distance as a solid without transpiration into the vacuum of space.

The surface temperature varies from 400C (3130K) at the equator to -2100C (630K) at the poles. The axial tilt causes large annual temperature swings as a function of latitude (N). This would cause any surface volatiles to be driven off long ago. With Deimos being a class-D asteroid having no combined water and the baking of the surface, the anhydrous spectra should be expected.

Fanale calculates that ice should exist at a depth of 100 meters at the equator and at a depth of 20 meters at the poles of Deimos. Thus, the drilling equipment proposed in 1995 by Kuck should be able to reach ice at or near the poles, but not near the equator.

Two isolated solar wind disturbances about 5 minutes in duration were detected by the Russian spacecraft Phobos-2 upon its crossing the wake of the Martian moon Deimos about 15,000 kilometers downstream from the moon on 1 February 1989. These plasma events are interpreted as the inboard and outboard crossing of a Mach cone that is formed as a result of an effective interaction of the solar wind with Deimos (S). Possible mechanisms such as remanent magnetism, cometary type interaction caused by heavy ion or charged dust production or neutral gas emission through water and other volatile loss by Deimos at a rate of about 1023 molecules/sec (S). Due to the age of Deimos, the later interpretation is favored. This is the equivalent of a geophysical anomaly indicating the presence of water on Deimos.

To move 100 tonnes of water ice from Deimos to LEO will require 250 tonnes of water ice for propellant (Z). Thus, in order to leave Deimos 350 tonnes must be propelled from the surface. A 1,000 cubic meter collection bag should be large enough to contain the 350 tonnes of ice, cuttings & other precipitates

Figure 2. Drill rig proposed in "Exploitation of Space Oases" in 1995.

Surprisingly, every two years, less propellant is required to travel to Phobos and Deimos from Earth than to reach our Moon. In addition, the low gravity on Phobos and Deimos avoids the need for high-impulse rocket propulsion systems otherwise required for soft landings and high energy take-offs. A disadvantage relative to the Moon is that round-trip travel times are much longer, involving 26 months rather than days (C).

Launch opportunities occur in 1999, 2001 and 2003 for a possible return to HEEC in 2001, 2003 or 2005. Three separate vehicles should be launched at the earliest possible date with a profitable return if only one of the three manages to return 100 tonnes of ice to HEEO. The longer the wait, the less money that can be realized for the sale of the water ice. This, like all other basic commodities looses value with time. Those who develop this market early, both become established in business, and benefit from the highest prices.

Two years ago when I wrote "Exploitation of Space Oases", the information that Deimos might be outgassing was not available to me. I found it in the 25 August 1995 issue of Science (K,S). The system proposed in that paper should be adequate to drill for ices with some modification. The these would be a second string of casing, a larger collar pipe and more propellant/drilling fluid. Table 2. shows the components of the drill and their mass in grams. and M. Guerrieri, Resources of Near-Earth Space, University of Arizona Press 1993.

    Bell, J.F., Fraser Fanale and Dale Cruikshank; Chemical and Physical Properties of the Martian Satellites; Resources of Near-Earth Space; University of Arizona Press 1993.
    Cordell, Bruce, PhD, Manned Missions to Mars: Planned Bold Journeys Into Tomorrow; Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture; University of Houston's College of Architecture, Vol. 3. No. 1: Jan - March 1990.
    Dasch, Pat; Prospecting for Ice; Ad Astra, Nov./Dec. 1995.
    Lewis, John S. & Ruth A.; SPACE RESOURCES Breaking the Bonds of Earth Columbia University Press, New York 1987
    Lewis, John S., M. S. Matthews
    Nichols, C.R.; Volatile Products from Carbonaceous Asteroids; Resources of Near-Earth Space, University of Arizona Press 1993.
    O'Leary, Brian; Phobos and Deimos (PhD): Space Manufacturing 5: 1985.
    Sauer, K., E. Dubinin, K. Baumgartel, A. BogdanOv; Deimos: An Obstacle to the Solar Wind; Science, Vol. 269, 25 August 1995.
    Zuppero, Anthony; Deimos: The Key to Colonization; Ad Astra, February 1991.

Table 1. Mass of Drill and equipment for the Deimos version of the drill presented in "Exploitation of Space Oases" presented at Princeton May 1995. The total mass is in grams. The drill pipe is titanium for lightness and chemical resistance to corrosion.

Down The Hole Hammer Drill Titanium drill pipe & accessories

L OD ID Weight Number Weight Ti
mm mm mm grams grams

Hammer DTH 210 16 233 3 699
Under-reamer Guide 78 20 49.4 3 148.2 *
117 30 67.1 3 201.3 *
Under-reamer 15 27 20 10 200
20 37 36.5 10 365
Casing Shoe 21 24 16 10 160
26 35 29 10 290
Tubing 2000 16 14 425 325 138125 *
Casing 2000 22 20 595 100 59500 *
2000 32 30 1299 60 77940 *
Collar Pipes 1000 43 40 1374 10 13740 *


Table 2. Hypothetical cash flow for the project using the drill rig vehicle presented in "Exploitation of Space Oases" at Princeton in 1995. This uses nine of the original twelve drill rig vehicles.
Proposed cash flow 12 initial vehicles

      Year 1998 19992000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Development & Construction " 3 " 2
      Drill & Vehicle "@$12.5m 37.5m 25m
Launches @ $70m
      Phobos/Deimos Sea Launch 210m 140m
Launches @ $60m Proton
General Expense Estimate 10m 10m 10m 10m 10m 10m 10m 10m
External tank to Mir 10m 10m

Totals 10m 10m 10m 257.5m 10m 185m 20m 10m

Interest @ 20% 2m 4.4m 7.3m 60.2m 74.3m 128.1m 155.8m
Grand Total 10m 22m 36.4m 301.2m 371.4m 630.7m 778.9m 944.7m
Product Sales
      100 tonnes Deimos/Phobos "@$8k/kg 800m
      200 tonnes Deimos/Phobos "@$6k/kg 1,200m
Total Gross Income Estimate 800m 1,200m

Accumulated Net Profit 169.2m 1,055.3m
D L Kuck, May 1997, "The Deimos Water Company", Presented at Space Manufacturing II, SSI, Princeton. 8 May 1997.
Also downloadable from deimos water company.shtml

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