Asteroid Mining Company Plans to Harvest the Riches of Space Rocks and Asteroid Water
Yes space rocks… a new asteroid-mining company called Deep Space Industries, plans to launch a fleet of prospecting spacecraft in 2015, then begin harvesting metals and water from near-Earth asteroids within a decade or so.
Deep Space will inspect potential mining targets with 55-pound (25 kilograms) spacecraft it calls FireFlies, which will be made from low-cost “cubesat” components and will hitch a ride to space aboard rockets that also carry large communications satellites.
The FireFlies’ work will pave the way for 70-pound (32 kg) spacecraft called DragonFlies, which will blast off beginning in 2016. DragonFlies will bring asteroid samples back to Earth during missions that last two to four years. Some samples will help the company determine mining targets, while others will probably be sold to researchers and collectors.
“The public will participate in FireFly and DragonFly missions via live feeds from Mission Control, online courses in asteroid mining sponsored by corporate marketers and other innovative ways to open the doors wide.” “The Google Lunar X Prize, Unilever and Red Bull each are spending tens of millions of dollars on space sponsorships, so the opportunity to sponsor a FireFly expedition into deep space will be enticing.”
Aside from extracting metals and other building materials from space rocks, Deep Space Industries will also be focusing on extracting asteroid water, which can be split into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen — yup you guessed it, the chief components of rocket fuel.
Deep Space Industries will hold a press conference today in Santa Monica, Calif., at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST/1800 GMT) to unveil more details of its bold mission plan; you can watch the webcast live here at SPACE.com.