Asteroid Mining To Become A Two-Horse Race

Another commercial firm is about to enter the race to mine asteroids for profit.

Deep Space Industries is due to reveal its plans to mine asteroids. The announcement will occur later today in Santa Monica's Museum of Flying. Within just two years Deep Space Industries says it will send drones called FireFly to examine asteroids reachable in near-Earth space. Once is has proven the tech and discovered likely mining candidates, DSI will deploy bigger DragonFly vehicles to snag and return samples from the asteroids between 2016 and 2020.

Ultimately, DSI's plan is to harvest material from asteroids and construct large structures in space, like communications platforms and solar power collectors. DSI has even patented zero-G 3-D metal printing techniques to help it accomplish its goals. Asteroid farming in this style has long been touted as one of the only ways to create meaningfully large man-made orbital structures, due to the immense cost of launching equipment by rocket.

DSI is following in the footsteps of Planetary Resources, an asteroid mining company backed by big names like James Cameron, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt that revealed its mining plans in 2012. Earlier this year, NASA was said to be tentatively investigating the possibility of snagging a small asteroid and bringing it to lunar orbit for experiments.

Is asteroid mining just a fantasy at this point in time, or do these firms stand a real chance? And, do you think we should leave our human hands off asteroids altogether?

[Image: Flickr user Ryan Somma]

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