Thursday, January 24, 2013

Who Wants to be an Asteroid Miner?

Yes sir, git yer kit together and maybe on of them Big Dawgs fir yer pac mule and git yerselves out to them asteroid fields!

So what the hell am I mumbling about this morning? Well in truth, I AM talking about asteroid mining.

Wired is reporting on a company called Deep Space Industries (wow I just got a wicked MOON flashback!) with the help of robotic crafts to mine what may turn out to be, valuable amounts of nickel, silicon, platinum group metals such as platinum and palladium, and water. The water alone can be broken down into Oxygen and Hydrogen which can be used as rocket fuel. 

Of course this is hardly a new idea, we saw plenty of space mining start-ups in 2012, DSI just happens to be the first for 2013. But it can be said that these guys have some pretty inventive ideas on how to retrieve, mine and make useful products.

DSI plans to field prospecting spacecraft (which they are calling of all things FIREFLIES) which will travel out to near Earth asteroids. What makes theses "fireflies" economically feasible is the way they will be constructed of inexpensive cubesats. The fireflies will then "prospect" nearby asteroids for the best candidates for mining. 

Once DSI determines the best candidates, they will send out "Dragonflies" to make the round trip bringing back samples. The goal here initially is to amass enough material to extract the valuable minerals which they claim can be used to manufacture products with the use of 3D printers. Eventually, according to the article:
  • DSI wants to supply products, fuel and parts for deeper space ventures, such as orbiting hotels and manned Mars missions
Read the complete Wired article Here

1 comment:

kallamis said...

You beat me. I had this on my drafting as well. Cool.
I wish we would get on with this. And of course I see so many problems arising here. Mainly out of the need for the almighty dime.
I've been saying for years we need to use space and what is in it for fuel. It's also been a staple of science fiction for ages. Even the Enterprise used ram jet collectors, or a version of them anyway.
But I foresee serious problems anyway, and a lot of cover-ups. Real ones.
We all know that governments do not want to see the price of rare metals go down. Now what do you suppose would happen if they came across an asteroid that say, had 4 tons of gold in the thing.
Just using that as an example, but you see what I mean.
Once again, I really hope I am wrong. And as much as I have always wanted to see this, and things like this, we all know something will cause a problem somehow, somewhere.
I swear, if we ever did get to the point of Gene's dream, the homo-sapien species would die for lack of confrontation and problems.