Deep Space Industries (DSI) has announced plans to launch the world’s first commercial extra-terrestrial mining mission.
The company’s Prospector-1 vehicle is slated to rendezvous with a near earth asteroid and appraise it to determine its value and potential resources.
“This mission is an important step in the company’s overall plans to harvest and supply in-space resources to support the growing space economy,” DSI said.
According to the company, when the vehicle reaches the space body, it will map the surface and subsurface of the asteroid, taking visual and infrared imagery and mapping overall water content, down to approximately meter-level depth.
When this initial science campaign is complete, Prospector-1 will use its water thrusters to attempt touchdown on the asteroid.
“Deep Space Industries has worked diligently to get to this point, and now we can say with confidence that we have the right technology, the right team and the right plan to execute this historic mission,” Rick Tumlinson, chairman of the board and co-founder of Deep Space Industries, said.
“Building on our Prospector-X mission, Prospector-1 will be the next step on our way to harvesting asteroid resources.”
The company recently partnered with Luxembourg’s Government to develop its Prospector-X technology.
The international mission, known as Prospect-X, is an agreement to explore, use, and commercialise space resources and builds upon Luxembourg’s earlier space mining initiative to become a technology hub for the fledgling industry.
Prospector-X is an experimental mission to low-Earth orbit that will test key technologies needed for low-cost exploration spacecraft. This precursor mission is scheduled to launch in 2017. Then, before the end of this decade, Prospector-1 will travel beyond Earth’s orbit to begin the first space mining exploration mission.
“DSI’s Prospector missions will usher in a new era of low cost space exploration” Grant Bonin, Deep Space Industries chief engineer, said.
Prospector-1, the first space mining mission vehicle, uses a water based propulsion system, as such “water will be the first asteroid mining product, so the ability to use water as propellant will provide future DSI spacecraft with the ability to refuel in space,” the company said.
“During the next decade, we will begin the harvest of space resources from asteroids,” Daniel Faber, Deep Space Industries CEO, said.
“We are changing the paradigm of business operations in space, from one where our customers carry everything with them, to one in which the supplies they need are waiting for them when they get there.”
The asteroids will be chosen by a team at DSI.
“Prospector-1 is not only the first commercial interplanetary mission, it is also an important milestone in our quest to open the frontier,” Tumlinson said.
“By learning to ‘live off the land’ in space, Deep Space Industries is ushering in a new era of unlimited economic expansion.”