After the badass landing of the Philae Probe on a comet by the European Space Agency, scientists feel confident enough to start landing on flying space rocks more often. Specifically, NASA has contracted Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources to begin work on flying missions that would scout asteroids and ultimately mine them as a for-profit business.
Some are calling it “The Next Gold Rush,” but if that’s the case, it’s a long way from being a profitable industry. Just for a sense of scale, it costs between $5,000 and $25,000 to carry a single kilogram from Earth to space. Mining asteroids in order to bring the resources back to Earth isn’t practical or necessary, but what scientists hope to do is use the asteroid to help further deep space travel. According to Wall Street OTC:
Each asteroid is composed of valuable resources, such as silicate minerals, metals, carbonaceous substances, and ice (i.e. water). Water is a very important potential resource, since solar-panels fueled spacecrafts could convert it into hydrogen and oxygen for fuel. This fuel could serve for limitless space exploration.
Planetary Resources was the company behind the huge rocket explosion back in October, so it’s going to have to step up its game if it wants to be spearheading humanity’s race to the stars.