Deep Space Industries is planning to break the next frontier: asteroid mining. Today it revealed its plan to put a 110-pound spacecraft on an asteroid close to Earth by the year 2020. The spacecraft is called Prospector-1. It will look at the selected asteroid to estimate the value of its resources for mining purposes.
It will also put Deep Space Industries’ system built on water propulsion to a real space test. Deep Space Industries has put in a lot of effort to get this far. Now they are confident about having the necessary technology, the appropriate plan and the proper team to launch the historic mission – according to Rick Tumlinson, co-founder of the Deep Space Industries.
The Deep Space Industry company, which is based in Callifornia, along with partners in Luxembourg aim to launch a prototype mission named Prospector-X in Earth’s orbit, in a year’s time, to put the technologies that will be used for Prospector-1 to the test.
The Deep Space Industry company views asteroids close to Earth’s orbit as possibly containing high-value resources, with materials like water ice, which can be turned into oxygen and water to serve as propellant, to platinum and all sorts of rare metals and gases.
If the Deep Space Industry folks keep to the schedule, Prospector-1 will probably become the premiere commercial asteroid mission to explore mining.
But competition is fierce for the Deep Space Industry company. Planetary Resources, a competitor based in Redmond is also going to take on an asteroid mining mission.
Planetary Resources already has the prototype spacecraft, called Arkyd-3R. The Arkyd-3R mission was already launched into orbit for a test mission that lasted for five months. The next generation of spacecraft, the larger Arkyd-6A is ready to be launched later this year. It will look at Earth’s infrared signature to practice for asteroid mining.
The Planetary Resources company believes it has what it takes to study the make-up of asteroids orbiting close to Earth. The studies are going to take place between 2017-2019 period.
The company also wants to craft an Earth-observing satellite constellation, named Ceeres. If all goes well, Planetary Resources is going to start extracting resources from asteroids in the 2020s, according to Chris Lewicki, company president.
Image Source – Wikipedia