Deep Space Industries: New Asteroid-Mining Company
From Deep Space Industries: The Earth is but a tiny and precious world floating in a sea of natural resources. The riches of the solar system offer humanity both unprecedented prosperity and an improved environment.
The resource potential of space outstrips that of any previous frontier - without the environmental impacts. Asteroids are plentiful throughout the solar system. Many orbit close to the Earth and many of these carry vast deposits of resources ranging from water to metals such as iron, gold and platinum – everything we need to expand our civilization into space, to provide for our needs here at home and to increase the wealth of our planetary economy. In addition, the sun shines 24/7 in space, and the electricity beamed to Earth from solar power satellites is carbon-free and leaves no radioactive waste.
With the effects of gravity at a minimum, we can do amazing things when it comes to moving, construction, and innovations in chemistry and physics. In fact, we are limited only by our own imaginations. All of this in a place safely outside of our delicate biosphere.
OUR VISION: Deep Space Industries believes the human race is ready to begin harvesting the resources of space both for their use in space and to increase the wealth and prosperity of the people of planet Earth.
With all these ideas and plans being thrown around, this is the best one I have wrote about. I love this plan. Something straight out of a science fiction movie.
Deep Space Industries, Inc., the new firm announced on Jan. 22 that it plans to launch a fleet of prospecting spacecraft in 2015, then begin harvesting metals and water from near-Earth asteroids within a decade. This work could make it possible to build and refuel spacecraft in Earth orbit, thus helping our species get a foothold in the final frontier.
"Using resources harvested in space is the only way to afford permanent space development," Deep Space CEO David Gump said in a statement. 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
"More than 900 new asteroids that pass near Earth are discovered every year," Gump explained. "They can be like the Iron Range of Minnesota was for the Detroit car industry last century — a key resource located near where it was needed. In this case, metals and fuel from asteroids can expand the in-space industries of this century. That is our strategy."
The Spacecraft Fleet:
Firefly - A small, low cost, nimble craft that DSI will launch on one way reconnaissance missions to determine the target asteroids composition and spin-rate, rapidly spinning asteroids are harder to capture. Firefly spacecraft will utilize ultra low-cost cubesat and nanosat components, and will be sent into space as secondary “ride along” payloads on large launch vehicles carrying commercial communications and remote sensing satellites
"We can make amazing machines smaller, cheaper and faster than ever before," Deep Space chairman Rick Tumlinson said in a statement. "Imagine a production line of Fireflies, cocked and loaded and ready to fly out to examine any object that gets near the Earth.”
Dragonfly - The next step is to scale up the Firefly spacecraft to include asteroid capture tools, and additional fuel to enable them to return asteroid samples to Earth orbit. Dragonfly missions will bring back the first payloads of asteroid materials for study, early processing experiments and sale. Customers will include both scientific researchers and private collectors. For example, NASA is paying $1 billion for the OSIRIS-REx mission that may bring back 2 kg in 2021. Collectors pay as much as $1 million per kg for rare meteorites. DSI will feed part of the returned material into prototypes of its Microgravity Foundry (see below) to demonstrate its practicality for in-space manufacturing using asteroid resources.
Other Devices and Products:
Microgravity Foundry - DSI is developing a patent-pending breakthrough in 3D printers able to output complex metal components using a simple process with few moving parts. The Microgravity Foundry (MGF) will enable utilization of the asteroid material to produce parts, gears, and other components for in-space machine repair and construction of new space infrastructures like solar power satellites.
Propellent Refinery - The water and hydrocarbons found in carbonaceous asteroids will be distilled into propellant for use by space stations, commercial habitats, and communications satellites. Crewed space agency missions to the Moon, Mars, and martian moons, require large quanities of fuel. 90 percent of the mass launched from Earth will need to be fuel. Filling up in Earth orbit will greatly reduce the cost of Mars trips.