Deep Space Industries Unveils Plans to Examine and Mine Asteroids
Posted on January 22, 2013
A new gold rush in space is quickly developing. Deep Space Industries (DSI) has joined Planetary Resources in the hunt to harvest raw materials from asteroids. DSI announced today in a press release its plans to begin launching spacecraft to explore nearby asteroids starting in 2015.
Here are some highlights of DSI's asteroid mining plans:
- FireFlies will began launching 2015 on journeys of two to six months. These small spacecrafts will weigh 55 lbs (25 kg). They will be used to examine asteroids and identify targets of opportunity.
- In 2016, DSI will send out slightly larger 70 lb spacecrafts, named DragonFly, that will visit asteroids and bring back samples.
- Eventually DSI plans to undertake full-scale commercial asteroid harvesting operations. These missions will include vehicles called the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, Proton and Ariane 5. DSI says these missions will return thousands of tons of water, propellant and metals per year.
- DSI also has plans to develop technologies that transform raw asteroid material into complex metal parts. One of these technologies is the MicroGravity Foundry, which is described by DSI as "a 3D printer that uses lasers to draw patterns in a nickel-charged gas medium, causing the nickel to be deposited in precise patterns."
Deep Space chairman Rick Tumlinson says in a release, "My smartphone has more computing power than they had on the Apollo moon missions. We can make amazing machines smaller, cheaper, and faster than ever before. Imagine a production line of FireFlies, cocked and loaded and ready to fly out to examine any object that gets near the Earth."