Archive | Space Mining

Inside the startup that wants to mine asteroids and transform space travel forever – by Kathryn Nave (Wired U.K. – July 4, 2017)

On May 25, 2008, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite transmitted a grainy image back to Earth. It showed two white dots – the Phoenix Mars lander and its parachute – descending against the backdrop of the planet’s vast Heimdal impact crater. Chris Lewicki, the Phoenix mission’s manager, hadn’t seen the lander since its launch on August 3, 2007, on board the Delta II rocket that carried it into space. The Phoenix landed 20km from the huge crater, kick-starting its search for microbial-friendly habitats on Mars.

For Nasa, this was the beginning of another successful mission, but to Lewicki, things began to feel repetitive. He had first become obsessed with space at the age of 11, when he saw images of Nasa’s Voyager mission, the space probe that captured images of the Solar System’s outer planets. He studied Aerospace Engineering at the University of Arizona and, in 1999, joined Nasa, where he rose through the ranks. In 2003, at the age of 29, he oversaw the landing of the Spirit and the Opportunity Mars Rovers.

Those missions were the fulfilment of his childhood dream. Now, with the Phoenix – his third mission to Mars – he began to feel restless. “A lot of my friends were working on the next big robot project, Curiosity,” he says. “But that felt like the easy thing to do.” So he started casting around for a new job. Continue Reading →

NASA Just Fast-Tracked Its Mission to Explore a $10,000 Quadrillion Metal Asteroid – by BEC CREW (Science Alert – May 25, 2017)

It would collapse the global economy if we brought it home.

It might have just pushed back its manned mission to Mars, but NASA just fast-tracked a planned journey to 16 Psyche – an asteroid made almost entirely of nickel-iron metal.

Estimated to contain $10,000 quadrillion in iron alone, if we could somehow mine Psyche’s minerals and bring them back to Earth, it would collapse our comparatively puny global economy of $78 trillion many times over. Fortunately for the economic stability of our planet, NASA plans on looking but not extracting.

“It’s such a strange object,” Lindy Elkins-Tanton, lead scientist on the NASA mission and the director of Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, told Global News Canada back in January. “Even if we could grab a big metal piece and drag it back here … what would you do?” she adds. Continue Reading →

GOLD RUSH IN SPACE China plans to build asteroid ‘bases’ to mine TRILLIONS of dollars worth of precious metals – and take on the US – by Jasper Hamill (The Sun – May 9, 2017)

Beijing’s bid to mine space rocks could bring so much wealth back to Earth that it crashes the planet’s economy

CHINA plans to build a base on an asteroid and begin mining billions or even trillions of dollars worth of precious metals. Yesterday, a top scientist revealed plans to land an unmanned craft on a space rock, potentially putting Beijing’s asteroid miners in direct competition with American space prospectors.

The asteroid will then be mined or even used to piggyback probes into deep space. Ye Peijian, a deep-space exploration expert at the China Academy of Space Technology, told an “asteroid exploration forum” that 900 space rocks zoom past Earth every year.

Many of these priceless asteroids contain vast amounts of metals such as platinum, iridium or rhodium. “In the near future, we will study ways to send robots or astronauts to mine suitable asteroids and transport the resources back to Earth,” he said, according to China Daily. Continue Reading →

Canadore collaborates on space mining tool – by Staff (Northern Ontario Busines – April 26, 2017)

Sudbury drill firm utilizes North Bay industrial design lab

Canadore College’s innovation centre teamed up with a Sudbury space mining company and a mining supplier on a leading edge drill to be used in deep space exploration.

The staff at the North Bay college’s Innovation Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Production (ICAMP) has been working with Deltion Innovations and Atlas Copco for nearly eight months to produce prototype tool ends for Deltion’s space mining multi-purpose tool, called PROMPT (Percussive and Rotary Multi-Purpose Tool).

Atlas and Deltion brought the PROMPT concept and tool designs to Canadore’s industrial design lab at its Commerce Court campus for manufacturing and production. According to a college news release, the centre utilized its “additive manufacturing resources,” including its 3D metal printer and computer numerical control equipment, to prototype the commissioned parts. Continue Reading →

Space May Be Next Frontier for Earth’s Crude Oil Giants, Analyst Says – by Dan Murtaugh (Bloomberg News – April 23, 2017)

The Middle East has an outsize impact on energy here on Earth. One analyst thinks some regional powerhouses may leverage that role into the development of natural resources in space.

Countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are developing space programs and investing in nascent private space commodity initiatives, said Tom James, a partner at energy consultant Navitas Resources. Doing so could give them a foothold in building extraterrestrial reserves of water — a substance likely to fuel travel within space — and other resources that could be used for in-space manufacturing.

“Water is the new oil of space,” James said in Singapore. “Middle East investment in space is growing as it works to shift from an oil-based to a knowledge-based economy.” Continue Reading →

China has a shocking plan for the moon – by Dan Taylor (Morning Ticker – January 29, 2017)

Watch out, moon, China is coming for you, and they have big plans for what lies beneath your surface. China is getting involved in the new space race this time, and their plans include being the first to mine the moon for its precious resources.

A mission set for later this year would involve gathering samples from the moon and laying the groundwork for a future mining operation on the lunar surface, which holds all sorts of precious minerals and other resources that are difficult for us humans to access, to say the least.

China’s Chang’e 5 mission will be the program’s first major effort to get on the moon. It will involve sending a robotic probe that will land on the lunar surface and retrieve a sample that it will take back to Earth for study. That mission is set for this November, and would be China’s first ever sample retrieval mission in space. Continue Reading →

[Mining] SPACE: America Needs a New Moon Mission – by Adam Minter (Bloomberg News – December 25, 2016)

Fifty years ago, the U.S. had the moon to itself. Starting in 1969, when the first of six Apollo missions touched down, it seemed likely that American astronauts would make a long-term home on the lunar surface. Instead, the U.S. sent its last manned mission there in 1972, and won’t be returning any time soon. That’s a shame: The moon is now a more compelling destination than ever.

Other countries, seeing new scientific and commercial potential there, have started to fill the exploration gap, including China, Russia and Japan. Perhaps the most ambitious effort is the European Space Agency’s “moon village,” which is intended to be a permanent international outpost on the lunar surface.

In recent weeks, the concept has gained considerable momentum as Europe’s science ministers and private space companies have embraced it. If the U.S. wants to join them, and resume its historic role as the leader in lunar exploration, it’ll need a major shift in priorities. Continue Reading →

John Glenn, former astronaut and senator of Ohio, has died at 95 – by Seth Borenstein ( – December 8, 2016)

Glenn, the first US astronaut to orbit the Earth in 1962, died Thursday

ASSOCIATED PRESS – WASHINGTON (AP) — John Glenn, whose 1962 flight as the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth made him an all-American hero and propelled him to a long career in the U.S. Senate, died Thursday. The last survivor of the original Mercury 7 astronauts was 95.

Glenn died at the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where he was hospitalized for more than a week, said Hank Wilson, communications director for the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. John Herschel Glenn Jr. had two major career paths that often intersected: flying and politics, and he soared in both of them.

Before he gained fame orbiting the world, he was a fighter pilot in two wars, and as a test pilot, he set a transcontinental speed record. He later served 24 years in the Senate from Ohio. A rare setback was a failed 1984 run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Continue Reading →

Mining robots key to colonizing Mars — Elon Musk – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – October 24, 2016)

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk, who last month revealed details of his ambitious plans to get at least a million people to Mars, said mining robots will be a key part of the planned colonization of the red planet.

In reply to several inquiries during a question-and-answer “AMA” session on Reddit on Sunday, the tech billionaire — who also heads electric-vehicle specialist Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) — highlighted the vital role mining equipment is set to play when it comes to help people establish their homes in Mars.

He said he envisions geodesic domes on the surface made with glass panes supported by carbon fibre frames. Such structures would have additional areas mined out below the surface by robots for “industrial” uses. Continue Reading →

ASTEROID APPROACHING: NASA’s latest mission will show if asteroid mining will be a real threat to the global platinum industry – by Lynsey Chutel (Quartz Africa – September 9, 2016)

A successful space mission could alter the destiny of Rustenburg, a dusty mining district in South Africa. On Sept. 8, NASA launched the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer or OSIRIS-Rex.

OSIRIS-Rex’s mission is to travel to the asteroid Bennu and return with a sample of “scientific treasure.” Among that treasure could be the potential to unlock thousands of tons of platinum, the main source of income for Rustenburg, and a significant revenue source for South Africa’s mining industry, the world’s number one platinum producer.

Thanks to studies of meteorites, we know that asteroids contain vast mineral wealth. OSIRIS-Rex is set to reach its destination in 2018 and will return a sample of between 60 grams to 2,000 grams (between 2 and 70 ounces) to earth. If the seven-year mission is a success, aspirant asteroid miners will be closer to dragging a platinum-rich asteroid closer to Earth, or mining it right there in zero-gravity. That could see Luxembourg could compete with South Africa, Russia and Zimbabwe, the world’s top platinum producers. Continue Reading →

Deep Space Industries joins race to mine asteroids – by Henry Lazenby ( – August 10, 2016)

VANCOUVER ( – Deep Space Industries (DSI) has entered the race to launch spacecraft that will identify and mine near-earth asteroids, in the hope of establishing a new space economy.

The California-based company on Tuesday announced plans to fly the world’s first commercial interplanetary mining mission. Its Prospector-1 would coincide with an asteroid near earth and investigate it to determine its value as a source of space resources.

DSI explained that it planned to undertake two Prospector missions, the first being Prospector X, an experimental mission to low-earth orbit that would test key technologies needed for low-cost space exploration. Continue Reading →

A start-up’s race to harvest the moon’s treasures – by Lori Ioannou ( – August 3, 2016)

In a race against global superpowers, Moon Express — a private venture founded by billionaire entrepreneur Naveen Jain, space technology guru Dr. Barney Pell and space futurist Dr. Bob Richards — has cleared a path for private U.S . companies looking to explore and commercialize space.

Today the company is the first private enterprise in history to receive U.S. government approval to travel beyond Earth’s orbit and undertake a deep space mission. The goal: to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon’s surface in 2017 and analyze and explore its valuable resources that can be used on Earth.

The moon is a treasure chest that has vast amounts of iron ore, water, rare Earth minerals and precious metals, as well as carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and helium-3, a gas that can be used in future fusion reactors to provide nuclear power without radioactive waste. Experts concur that the value of these resources are in the trillions of dollars. Continue Reading →

MOON MINING It’s closer than ever thanks to a small Canadian company – by D’Arcy Jenish (Canadian Mining Journal – June 1, 2016)

Mining here on earth is a brute force industry, says Dale Boucher, chief executive officer of Deltion Innovations Ltd. of Capreol, Ont.

“If a rock is too big, you just get a bigger hammer to hit it with,” says Boucher.” You can’t take the same approach with space mining. You have to learn how to do things with very little weight and very little power.” Mining in outer space may seem like the stuff of science fiction but, in fact, it is going to happen sooner than most of us can imagine. NASA is currently planning a lunar Resource Prospector Mission; with a “notionally targeted launch” in 2018.

While the mother ship orbits the moon, a lander will descend to the surface. A rover will emerge from the lander, equipped with a robotic drill designed to explore for ice water at the South Pole, and Deltion is one of the companies in the running to supply the drill. Continue Reading →

U.S. Set to Approve Moon Mission by Commercial Space Venture – by Andy Pasztor (Wall Street Journal – June 5, 2016)

U.S. officials appear poised to make history by approving the first private space mission to go beyond Earth’s orbit, according to people familiar with the details. The government’s endorsement would eliminate the largest regulatory hurdle to plans by Moon Express, a relatively obscure space startup, to land a roughly 20-pound package of scientific hardware on the Moon sometime next year.

It also would provide the biggest federal boost yet for unmanned commercial space exploration and, potentially, the first in an array of for-profit ventures throughout the solar system.

The expected decision, said the people familiar with the details, is expected to set important legal and diplomatic precedents for how Washington will ensure such nongovernmental projects comply with longstanding international space treaties. The principles are likely to apply to future spacecraft whose potential purposes range from mining asteroids to tracking space debris. Continue Reading →

The Asteroid Miner’s Guide to the Galaxy – by Matthew Shaer (Foreign Policy – April 28, 2016)

U.S. companies are preparing to tap the solar system’s riches. But will they share the trillion-dollar deep-space market with hungry foreign competitors?

The tech firm Deep Space Industries (DSI) is headquartered on the second story of an aging office building at the edge of NASA’s Ames Research Center, not far from the town of Mountain View, California.

Established in 1939 as a laboratory for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, a predecessor to NASA, Ames is now part government research site, part industrial park, and part open-air museum — visitors pass rows of decommissioned rockets and the hulking skeleton of Hangar One, where the Navy once parked its experimental blimps in the 1930s. Shimmering nearby in the Pacific coast sun lies the sprawling aerospace facility owned by Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Continue Reading →