Asteroid-mining race heats up as Deep Space Industries joins the fray – by Dorothy Kosich (Mineweb.com – January 24, 2013)

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By exploring the potential riches of space rocks, would-be asteroid miner DSI hope to help humanity enlarge its footprint in the final frontier.

RENO (MINEWEB) – Santa Monica, California-based Deep Space Industries (DSI) says it has launched the first commercial campaign to inspect small asteroids which pass by earth as potential mining targets.

Deep Space will build a small fleet of 55-pound FireFlies, working with NASA and other companies and groups to identify potential exploration targets.

“My smartphone has more computing power than they had on the Apollo moon missions,” said Deep Space Chairman Rick Tumlinson. “We can make amazing machines smaller, cheaper and faster than ever before.”

The company intends to send a fleet of FireFly spacecraft into space beginning in 2015 by riding-sharing on the launch of larger communications satellites.

Beginning in 2016, Deep Space aims to launch 70-pound DragonFlies for round-trip visits that bring back geological samples. The DragonFly expeditions are expect to take two to four years, depending on the target, and will return with 60 to 150 pounds of cargo.

Bringing back asteroid samples is only the beginning of what DSI hopes to accomplish. Senior leaders at NASA have been briefed on DSI’s technologies, “which would make eventual crewed Mars expeditions less expensive through the use of asteroid-derived propellant,” said DSI.

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