New company plans to mine in space

A new space company will unveil its plans to mine asteroids today.

Speaking in the U.S. today, Deep Space Industries says it will build a fleet of asteroid mining space craft to harvest and process the minerals trapped inside.

The possibility of space mining has grown in the last two years, as we come to understand more about the potential minerals locked within asteroids.

“We do know now that there are materials of enormous economic interest available in space, any near earth object has a platinum group metals concentration greater than the best terrestrial ores,” according to Princeton’s Space Studies Institute director Lee Valentine in his article A Space Roadmap: Mine the Sky, Defend the Earth, Settle the Universe.

Planetary Resources, which has already partnered with fellow space focused company Virgin Galactic, has taken the lead of interplanetary mining.

Late last year NASA also awarded a group of United States-based researchers a contract to explore the feasibility of asteroid mining.

Now Deep Space Industries (DSI) has entered into the new space, announcing that it will create "the world’s first fleet of commercial asteroid-prospecting spacecraft," as well as develop a "breakthrough process for manufacturing in space," according to NCB news.

Heading the newly formed company is David Gump, who was involved in LunaCorp, which worked on sending mining rovers to the moon.

Speaking to Mark Sonter, who has written extensively on the technical and commercial feasibility of asteroid mining, he told Australian Mining that the potential for mining small near earth asteroids (NEA) and bringing them into earth’s high orbit is increasing as robotic and automated technology develops.

“There is no obvious showstopper that would impede mining in space,” Sonter said.

With the consistently growing number of near earth asteroids being identified, following funding boosts in the 90s, distance and accessibility is much better than many people would think.

Companies such as Naveen Jain’s Moon Express (MoonEx) have also looked into the possibility of lunar mining.
Speaking to FoxNews, Jain said “the moon has never been explored from an entrepreneurial perspective”.

The moon is understood to hold more than twenty times the amount of titanium and platinum than anywhere on earth, as well as the extremely rare helium 3.

According to Jain, MoonEx’s recent contract with NASA will allow the company to begin lunar mining operations in the coming years, possibly as soon as 2013.

However, according to Sonter “one-tenth of NEAs are easier to get to than the moon”.

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