Is asteroid mining the next space race or just science fiction?

Is it possible to mine asteroids? Yes, but it will take brave investors to do so, writes Steven Cutts

Saturday 03 July 2021 21:30
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<p>The idea of mining asteroids is one thing. Trying to land on them is another</p>

The idea of mining asteroids is one thing. Trying to land on them is another

One of the most common themes of modern political discourse is that of finite resources. On this planet, all resources are finite and much has been made of the need to manage them more carefully. But in the universe as a whole, this is simply not the case. Our solar system offers an abundance of natural resources that could sustain mankind for millions of years to come. The problem is not that they don’t exist, but that we cannot access them.

One such resource is the tens of thousands of chunks of rock that orbit the sun, usually referred to as asteroids. As unobtainable resources go, the raw materials in the asteroid belt ought to be quite high up the list. Many of them are hundreds of millions of miles away and orbit the sun on a radically different path to our own. In spite of this, many scientists (and some entrepreneurs) are seriously considering a trip to the asteroids – not for the purposes of research – but with the sole intention of exploiting the resources therein.

In the US, there are now companies with names such as Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries that claim to have been set up with the intention of mining an asteroid.

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