Posted: Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Metals.com today announced the first asteroid mining venture fund by a non-government entity. The venture capital arm aims to invest in private sector scientific teams to deploy asteroid mining probes to near-Earth orbit by 2026.
Mining asteroids might sound like the premise of a science fiction movie, but thanks to private space billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos (founders of SpaceX and Blue Origin rocket companies) the cost of space travel is shrinking drastically.
NASA Scientists believe Psyche, one of the largest objects in the asteroid belt, may contain enough nickel, iron and precious metals to fill the entire state of Massachusetts completely. Its value is said to be worth over $10 quadrillion dollars and could supply the world production requirement for several million years. To put this figure into perspective, $10 quadrillion roughly translates into all of the money on the planet (from every country) that is currently in circulation, put together, and multiplied by 111.
A study at the Keck Institute for Space Studies at Caltech estimates that one full-cycle asteroid capture and return mission, moving an asteroid weighing 1.1 million pounds, would cost approximately $2.6 billion.
"Space is becoming smaller, closer and cheaper making room for new applications, new technologies and competitors," says Noah Poponak, aerospace and defense research analyst at Goldman Sachs.
Dr. Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the lead scientist on the mission and the director of Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration, says: "The Psyche asteroid is a very compelling target, first of all because we get to see a metal world for the very first time."
"Extracting metals from the Psyche asteroid is not in NASA's plans," says Senior Fellow and Chief Futurist at metals.com John Crestani, "NASA's Discovery program is capped at only $450 million and they will merely demonstrate it's feasible with current technology."
About the venture fund: Metals.com is the leading name in precious metals and has announced a scientific fund for metal mining probes to near-Earth orbit. They are seeking to fund scientific teams to target M-Type (metallic) asteroids for their metals like iron, nickel, platinum and cobalt, which can be used to build structures in space with 3D printing.
Science Communications Director
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