Asteroid Mining Being Planned by Billionaires
A team of billionaires from around the globe have recently announced an ambitious plan. They wish to develop a system to enable the mining of near-Earth asteroids. A staple of science-fiction for decades, the team at Planetary Resources is looking to make it a reality. The Bellevue, Washington-based company has issued a call for the best engineers in the world to help develop the systems they need.
If asteroid mining becomes a reality, it can change the entire world. There are currently around 1,500 asteroids that are easier to reach than the Moon. Asteroid mining has the potential to become a trillion dollar resource-based industry. Part of the vision of Planetary Resources is to help all humans achieve the standard of living found in developed countries. They can achieve this lofty goal by creating transport systems which send material directly back to Earth. They are especially looking for what are called platinum-group metals. These metals are essential to today's high-tech electronics, especially mobile devices and hard drives. They are rare on Earth, but abundant in asteroids. Harvesting just a few near-earth asteroids would be more than enough to pay back investors.
The presence of water on asteroids is what will make the system work. Water is necessary for life, and can be turned into oxygen for miners. It can also serve as a radiation shield, and can be broken down into the components for rocket fuel. Planetary Resources is developing a set of telescopes that can identify mineable asteroids, Then, they’ll send low-cost robots that can transport asteroids into lunar orbit. Once there, other robots will do the actual mining and send the material back to Earth. Humans would oversee the operation from the Moon, or perhaps on a large asteroid around lunar orbit. By having a permanent way-station in space, governments and private businesses will establish an economically sound reason for developing human space flight to new levels.Continued on the next page