Asteroid Mining and the Future of Space Exploration

By Addison W.

Only a while ago, Planetary Resources, a privately owned company, unveiled their plans to send a spacecraft into outer space. The media quickly caught on and the word spread. Even more shocking is the fact that they are planning to intercept an asteroid, and mine it for resources. Hence the name, “Planetary Resources”.

The process for each asteroid will require three stages using three different vehicles, from the Arkyd Series 100 to locate the asteroid, the Arkyd Series 200 to intercept it (quaintly named the Interceptor), and finally the Arkyd Series 300 to prepare the asteroid for mining using laser technology.

Soon after the unveiling, another company, Deep Space Industries –emerged from the shadows and is now rivaling Planetary Resources for control of the asteroid mining industry. However, one thing that Deep Space Industries does not have is the ‘Big Name’ investors such as Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, founders of Google, director James Cameron, Ram Shriram, and Texan billionaire Ross Perot Jr. Apart from this; Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources both have their share of doubters, wondering whether such a process would actually have any gain.

With more than 10,000 Near-Earth asteroids, prospectors are starting to scour the Solar System for potential sweet spots. Asteroids are thought to hold rare earth minerals, gold, and platinum inside them. If this industry were to kick off, “Trillions of dollars could be added to the global GDP,” Planetary Resources claim. The Washington-based company also stated that reaching an asteroid in current times would cost around a billion dollars, however then stating that it would only cost a few million in the future. Some say that the pay-off for getting to an asteroid wouldn’t be worth it.

However, scientists recently spotted one asteroid that has caught the eyes of many that are working in the space industry. A specific near-Earth asteroid has been deducted to contain over 60 billion dollars in minerals and resources, including water. Taking that into account, the one billion it would cost to get to the asteroid would yield only 1/60 of the outcome. Countless times before, resources have been what drove people to explore and discover. From the first men in Africa, who moved wherever food was, to Columbus, looking for a route to Asia, only to discover America. Perhaps this is the start of something even bigger.

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink.