I don’t know about you but ever since I was a kid I have thought that it would be incredible to be able to visit space. I was a bit of a nerd and I enjoyed watching all of the sci-fi shows on tv. Though I always dreamed of seeing the earth from up in a space station or even visiting the moon I figured that it would never be anything a non-astronaut could do.
It wasn’t until SpaceX and other groups started talking about privatized space travel and mining that I thought perhaps civilians and regular people may begin having the chance to go.
On top of all of the hype Congress has even passed a bill that will regulate commerce in space, this now includes ‘space mining.’ The bill is directed towards the creation of a high-tech modern economy in space which will allow the business world to now push forth with their efforts.
The question here is can the private sector develop the technology needed to achieve this goal?
The SPACE Act (Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship) of 2015, seeks to regulate business ventures in space as companies, such as Commercial Spaceflight Federation, SpaceX, and Boeing are expected to have the capability for passenger space travel in the near future.
Space X even recently landed a rocket that they had launched into space and brought back safely.
There is even a company that has focused their efforts on asteroid mining.
Planetary Resources has received grants from NASA and are in the design process for mining asteroids. The company is completely dedicated to the task and “are driven by an incessant need to overcome challenges and have the scars to prove it.”
Ram Shriram, a founding board member of Google, said,
“I see the same potential in Planetary Resources as I did in the early days of Google.”
The following video will describe Planetary Resources’ mission.
Asteroids are set to play a key role in developing a space economy as water will be mined from them and used in creating a supply of consumable water and fuel. We are close to becoming an interplanetary species and the age of space travel nearly here.
According to the planetary resources company the earth is finite but that need not stop us from growing. Instead of mining the earth completely dry we can get materials from space. Asteroids can fuel a space economy and us back on earth.
In orbit, spacecraft propellant is a multi-billion dollar industry with each pound of fuel worth more than an equivalent pound of gold on Earth. Certain asteroids are loaded with hydrogen and oxygen, the components of rocket fuel. These asteroids can provide a fuel source that is 100 times closer energetically to Earth orbit, and thus far less expensive, than the Apollo-Era “bring-everything-with-you” propellant used today. -planetaryresources.com
Despite their high price we use platinum-based metals here on earth for everything from jewelry, and medical devices to the construction of electronics. Currently, more of the platinum comes from Russia and South Africa and they are becoming rarer. In space, however, a single 500-meter asteroid that is platinum-rich would contain more platinum than we have ever used here on earth.
Let us know in the comments below what you think about commercialized space travel and mining.