The Earth has only a finite amount of material and minerals that we use for manufacturing. So what are we going to do when we come close to running out? Look to the stars of course! Perhaps the closest, and likely the easiest, choice is in asteroid mining. That’s right, what was once science fiction will very soon become reality.
The Asteroid Rush, a new age Gold Rush of sorts, just got more realistic. Planetary Resources Inc, a company that wants to take on the gargantuan venture, just announced a 25 million Euro financing agreement that should help them tremendously on their goal towards launching an actual craft by 2020.
The Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the banking institution called Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement (SNCI), who have contributed 12 million euros and grants of 13 million euros, respectively are the organizations involved in the deal. “We are excited in welcoming the Grand Duchy as a partner and an investor. Just as the country’s vision and initiative propelled the satellite communications industry through its public-private partnerships, this funding and support will fast-track our business — advancing and building upon our substantial accomplishments,” said Chris Lewicki, president and CEO of Planetary Resources, Inc. “We plan to launch the first commercial asteroid prospecting mission by 2020 and look forward to collaborating with our European partner in this pivotal new industry.”
Their first mission is going to be use their in-house developed sensors to find the presence of water and any other water-bearing minerals in these asteroids they’re targeting. Water, despite what might be thought, will be a very valuable resource if found in space itself. It’s use for crews and for propulsion is invaluable, and transporting it from Earth or other planets with a large gravity field is problematic and expensive to do. Asteroid mining could be a new large economic venture that countries, and companies, rush to compete heavily in. While it’ll fill us with tasty minerals to use in making stuff, it’ll also be a source of innovation for the technologies involved in scouring and grinding those asteroids for the resources we want.