Coming in 2015: Asteroid Miners
Space materials can 'expand the civilization of Earth out into the cosmos,' firm says
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2013 2:55 AM CST
An artist's impression of Deep Space Industries' "Firefly" probe.   (Deep Space Industries)

(Newser) – Asteroid mining is just a few years away, according to a US company, but there won't be any jobs for pickaxe-wielding spacemen just yet: The first probes will only be the size of laptops. Deep Space Industries plans to send the probes on prospecting trips to some of the 1,700 near-Earth asteroids in 2015, the CBC reports. Larger spacecraft will follow to extract valuable metals and gases from the asteroids, says the company, which aims to sell the resources to Mars missions and to the builders of orbiting space platforms.

Asteroids "can be like the Iron Range of Minnesota was for the Detroit car industry last century—a key resource located near where it was needed," the company's CEO says. "In this case, metals and fuel from asteroids can expand the in-space industries of this century." Director James Cameron has announced a similar venture, but experts aren't sure if asteroid mining is ready to get off the ground, the Guardian notes. "Is the prospect of using asteroid resources crazy? No, it's not. Is it difficult? Yes, it is," says the editor of NasaWatch.com. "Can you make a business case for it? People are trying, and making progress."

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Showing 3 of 8 comments
ski99
Jan 25, 2013 3:41 PM CST
Is the UMWA aware of this?
finkster
Jan 23, 2013 11:41 AM CST
Here is another company that is really interested in doing this called Planetary Resources It could kill two birds with one stone Mine for precious minerals on asteroids while keeping them from destroying Earth Here is a short 3:16 film about it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fYYPN0BdBw
Meoff_Jack
Jan 23, 2013 11:33 AM CST
I've said this before, when James Cameron announced asteroid mining as his next big project, but I'll say it again: Think about all the research and development that would need to be conducted before we actually begin mining operations. We would have to look into a number of technologies that would benefit all sorts of operations carried out here on Earth. For example, we would have to look at miniaturization to bring the size of mining platforms down to a level that makes it cheaper to launch into space. It would also bring some major advances in materials and processing technology that we desperately need here on Earth. Look at the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) industry that is eagerly needing advancements in these forms of technology to achieve integration with the National Airspace System. Designers of space mining platforms would also have to make a push in the development of power solutions, another major problem the entire globe has become concerned with as we make our move away from fossil-fuels. The requirements to become more ecologically friendly, less expensive, and more capable will stretch the limits of current sources of power into future solutions So exciting! Can't wait to read more about this over the next few years.