Encouraged by new space technologies, a growing fleet of commercial rockets, and the vast potential to generate riches, a group of entrepreneurs announced Tuesday that they planned to mine the thousands of near-Earthasteroids in the coming decades.
The new company, Deep Space Industries (DSI), is not the first in the field, nor is it the most well-financed. But with their ambition to become the first asteroid prospectors, and ultimately miners and manufacturers, they are aggressively going after what Mark Sonter, a member of DSI's board of directors, called "the main resource opportunity of the 21st century." (Related: "Asteroid Hunter to Be First Private Deep-Space Mission?")
Prospecting using miniaturized "cubesat" probes the size of a laptop will begin by 2015, company executives announced. They plan to return collections of asteroid samples to Earth not long after.
I think we all understand on a basic level what mining Asteroids would do for us: More Resources. But can we really grasp the size and scope of the amount that opens up for us? Personally, I believe we can start relying on mining asteroids for resources and reduce mining on our planets to preserve the eco systems.
Environmentalists are stoked about that idea, as am I, but it means much more than just more resources. It means LIMITLESS resources. Markets will change drastically when this practice becomes a reality, since precious metals will be in abundance again. Looking towards the future, we see all the awesome things we can build with more Gold, Copper, and Zinc, but also Platinum metals.
Asteroids also offer more than just metals. They can offer us water, which can be broken down into rocket fuels we need to travel space in the first place. If we find big enough asteroids, we can suck as much propellant out of them as possible and create a fueling station for longer missions.
And to think, we've had this wonderful cache of resources in our backyard this whole time. We just need to harness it!
For added inspiration, take a listen to the Startalk Radio on the subject. It's pretty darn good!