May 29, 2024

Welcome to the 4 comma club (Sorry Russ hanneman): Asteroid Mining

Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the worlds most prominent astrophysicists, and others have claimed that the world’s first trillionaire will make his or her fortune in mining space minerals. According to NASA, the minerals that lie in the belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter hold wealth equivalent to a staggering $100 billion for every person on Earth.

There are quite a few companies across the world actively engaged in developing asteroid mining technology in a wide variety of ways. Two of the most eminent companies are Planetary Resources and Bradford Space, Inc. Companies like these are establishing a new paradigm for resource discovery and utilization that will bring the solar system into humanity’s sphere of influence and accelerate humanity’s exploration and development of deep space.

Asteroids are rich stores of natural resources. Average sized asteroids can roughly contain up to 90 trillion tonnes of Platinum, Gold and other precious metals and about 2 trillion tonnes of water (Earth has 70000 tonnes of platinum reserve and 2 * 10^6 trillion tonnes of water). Both companies are looking specifically at near-Earth asteroids in the near-term, which are the easiest ones to get to. So far, roughly 15,000 such objects have been discovered, and their orbits all come in close proximity to Earth. Planetary Resources has identified eight of these as potential targets and has listed them publicly, while Deep Space Industries has claimed to have “half a dozen very, very attractive targets”.

The precious metals, being scarce on Earth, provide huge economic benefit if mined and used. Mining these resources does not only give us precious metals to use on Earth but also aids us in getting important metals and other materials for construction in space, for example: building a Mars or Moon base. This saves cost as we wouldn’t have to send materials straight from the Earth’s surface and waste fuel.

Water is the other most important thing. Apart from being used to sustain life in outer space, water can be used as rocket fuel. Therefore, these asteroids can act as fuelling stations in outer space. These outer space stations can pave a pathway to future interplanetary and deep space travel as we wouldn’t need to store fuel.

To read more about what companies like Planetary Resources are doing, click on this link – https://www.planetaryresources.com/

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