You know the future is really here when you get to write about not the first, but the second company founded to mine asteroids. I’m on the mailing list for the first, Planetary Resources, which was founded last April. The new one is called Deep Space Industries, Inc.
They plan “to launch a fleet of prospecting spacecraft in 2015, then begin harvesting metals and water from near-Earth asteroids within a decade or so.” The plans are exciting, obviously, but I still remain a little bit skeptical. According to DSI the point is not to ship the raw materials back down to earth (those asteroids would have be pure platinum to make that worthwhile, I’m guessing), but instead to have the raw material ready for in-space cosntruction of more ships and habitats for more exploration. Sounds awesome, but now we not only need to figure out how to mine the asteroids, but also how to build an assembly line up there.
Still, given advances in robotics, this doesn’t sounds that far-fetched in terms of technical capability. It’s the economic profitability that has me wondering.
In any case, I can’t help but be excited!