Mining and space exploration seem like two fields that couldn’t be further apart. Miners plunge deep into the earth’s crust, while space explorers seek to propel humankind in the opposite direction.
Early champions of space mining were often not taken too seriously. “There was a huge giggle factor,” said Dale Boucher, CEO of Deltion Innovations, a Sudbury-based firm that hopes to supply equipment for space miners.
Boucher spoke with The Northern Miner after meeting with Canadian ministers in Ottawa, where his pitch was simple: Canada, as a world leader in mining capability, should be involved in space mining.
“Space mining is inevitable,” Boucher said, with private firms and public space agencies banking on exploiting space resources — specifically water — to sustain life and produce propellant far more cheaply than hauling it from earth.
The economic case for space mining rests on the fact that travelling through the earth’s atmosphere is expensive. According to NASA, it costs US$10,000 to get 1 kg of material into orbit. Costs balloon when delivering that cargo safely to the moon and beyond.
The International Space Exploration Coordination Group, comprised of 14 major national space agencies, has identified “local resources” as integral to space exploration, citing the potential for simplifying missions and lowering costs, especially for long missions.
Seeing an emerging market, the private sector sprung into action, with a handful of firms vying to extract space resources and set up shop as the first extraterrestrial refuelling station and supply depot.
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