Friday, April 26, 2013

Asteroid Mining on the Move

     In April 2012 Planetary Resources announced an ambitious venture to mine asteroids. Followed by Deep Space Industries and Stott Space, the race to capture and mine an asteroid has kicked into gear. The rush to these celestial bodies is not necessarily for gold, but for platinum based metals that are used in renewable batteries. Metals used in manufacturing such as iron and nickel are also believed to be available. One question that comes up is how will the materials extracted from the asteroid be brought back to Earth? Another question is what effect will the influx of rare materials have on the market for those materials? An answer to the first question is that the materials do not have to be returned to Earth. Processing and manufacturing can take place in space. Using these materials to build new space vehicles can reduce the cost of space exploration as one of the largest costs is the fuel needed to leave Earth. As for the question regarding the effect on the market, well we can leave that to the economists and the invisisble hand for now. For a discussion of some of the legal issues surrounding asteroid mining see the previous post on the legal issues on mining the moon. Below is a collection of links from around the web to offer a snapshot of where the asteroid mining industry is and where it is headed.

Planetary Resources:

Deep Space Industries:

Stott Space:

Goals of Stott Space:

NASA receives funding to capture and asteroid:

Senator Bill Nelson (D, FL) and others back NASA plan to capture an asteroid:

Planetary Resources view of NASA's asteroid plan:

First an asteroid, and then Mars:

Commentary on NASA's plan:

Keck Institute for Space Studies: Asteroid Return Mission Study:

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