Expanding a Trillion Dollar Industry

Many are familiar with mining on Earth to obtain resources that we use for all sorts of things on the planet. What many don’t know is that this process can be, and most likely will be, expanded beyond the planet. Asteroids contain many of the resources found on Earth since they are basically leftover material from the Solar System’s formation. Asteroid mining is an idea that is currently being explored by scientists and engineers in order to exploit the resources that can be found on these asteroids. Their size and type can vary, and the amount of resources that can be obtained is dependent upon these factors as well as their accessibility.

Image result for asteroid mining
Source: SYFY – Artist conception of asteroid mining

It will take a lot of money (billions) to even begin attempting this project. However, asteroid mining has the potential to be very lucrative as it is estimated that a relatively small asteroid can contain over $20 billion in just platinum. Since many asteroids cross Earth’s orbit during their journey through the Solar System and around the sun, they can be approached using a relatively low amount of fuel from our planet’s orbit. The first missions are loosely projected to be sometime during the 2020s. Planetary Resources is a company that “aims to be the leading provider of resources for people and products in space through its goal of identifying, extracting, and refining resources from near-Earth asteroids” and more information about their plans can be found on their website here.

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2 thoughts on “Expanding a Trillion Dollar Industry

  1. A study in 2012 said it is possible, but for $2.6 Billion! I think it will cost more, to be honest. There was a study by KISS (https://www.space.com/15405-asteroid-mining-feasibility-study.html) and it said it appears feasible to identify, capture and return close to Earth an entire asteroid that is roughly 23 feet (7 meters) wide. This so-called near-Earth asteroid (NEA) would weigh in the neighborhood of 500 tons, according to the study. Interesting stuff.

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    1. It will definitely cost way more. Last year there was supposed to be a mission attempting to capture some material from an asteroid then push its trajectory away from Earth, but it was shut down because it didn’t have enough support from the government. As of now there’s no exact time at which they’ll start these missions but I’m excited to see where this goes.

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