Archive | Space Mining

SpaceX Stuns the World: Even without customers, the Falcon Heavy is a milestone in American spacefaring – by Editors (Bloomberg News – February 7, 2018)

“It seems surreal to me,” said Elon Musk, proprietor of SpaceX, and for once he was understating things.

On Tuesday, his company blasted a 230-foot rocket into orbit, returned its two side boosters to Earth for a flawlessly synchronized landing, and — with exquisite nerd flair — propelled Musk’s own Tesla Roadster toward deep space, where it’s expected to orbit the sun for hundreds of millions of years.

Surreal, yes. But it was also a triumph of private enterprise and a milestone in American spacefaring. Its true significance, in fact, may not be apparent for decades. Known as the Falcon Heavy, the new projectile has 27 engines generating 5 million pounds of thrust, making it the most powerful rocket ever built by a private company. Continue Reading →

Space mining is getting close to reality – by Rebecca Campbell ( – December 15, 2017)

JOHANNESBURG ( – Space mining – the mining of bodies and other worlds in outer space for minerals and other natural resources – remains within the realm of science fiction. For now.

But, during the younger years of most of the world’s current senior mining executives, personal communication devices (cellphones) were science fiction, as were a whole plethora of compact electronic and domestic devices that are today widely available, affordable and, indeed, nearly ubiquitous.

It is very likely that, within the remaining life spans of those self-same senior mining executives, space mining will become a scientific, technological, engineering and financial fact. Continue Reading →

Interplanetary players: a who’s who of space mining – by Chloe Cornish (Financial Times – October 19, 2017)

Companies plotting to put robots into space need funding anchored here on Earth

Mineral extraction is going to be crucial for the survival of colonies on Mars or the moon, dreamt up and financed by the likes of entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

But such is the prohibitive fuel economy of space travel that it is unclear when, if ever, bringing resources such as iron and platinum back to Earth will be commercially viable.

Angel Abbud-Madrid, director of the Centre for Space Resources at the Colorado School of Mines, says it would make sense only when things on Earth “become economically not affordable”. “Now it’s a race to the funding,” says Meagan Crawford, who runs Brand Delta-V, a space marketing consultancy. Continue Reading →

Secret of gold finally found: precious metals are forged in cataclysmic collision of neutron stars – by Sarah Knapton (The Telegraph – October 16, 2017)

The secret of creating gold has fascinated alchemists for thousands of years, but now scientists have finally solved the mystery. Precious metals are forged in the cataclysmic collision of neutron stars and then flung out into the universe where they eventually aggregate with other stardust into larger bodies, like planets or comets.

Previously scientists had theorised that such cosmic smashes could create the vast amount of energy needed to create gold, platinum and silver, but for the first time, they have actually recorded it happening.

On August 17, astronomers in the US picked up a signal from two neutron stars crashing together 130 million years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth. Continue Reading →

Space mining in 10,9,8… – by Kate Smith (ECU Daily – October 2, 2017)

Space experts, academics and government officials attended the third Off-Earth Mining Forum at the University of New South Wales in Sydney last week. Head researchers on space mining from around the world gathered to discuss the future of mining and colonisation Off-Earth.

According to Associate Professor Serkan Saydam who is the Research Director at UNSW’s School of Mining Engineering, living in space is closer than we imagine.

“According to some commercial space mining companies this operation (mining) can happen in the next 10 years. This achievement will definitely trigger the colonisation on the Moon and Mars. Although estimating the time frame is directly dependent on the research conducted in the related areas, we can also say that colonisation on the Moon and Mars can happen in the next 50 years.” Continue Reading →

The trillion dollar outer space land grab: Experts warn of massive conflicts looming over space mining rights (Daily Mail/Reuters – August 21, 2017)

Can anyone claim the red planet or natural resources on asteroids? Business leaders and legal experts say the question has become more than philosophical as a growing number of firms, often backed by capital and technology from Silicon Valley, have set their sights on the resources of outer space asteroids and Mars.

In order to avoid conflicts between competing companies and countries over outer space resources, more work needs to be done on Earth to determine who owns commodities taken from celestial bodies, analysts said.

‘There is a huge debate on whether companies can simply travel to space and extract its resources,’ said Barry Kellman, a law professor who studies space governance at DePaul University in Chicago. ‘There is no way to answer the question until someone does it,’ Kellman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Continue Reading →

Inside the startup that wants to mine asteroids and transform space travel forever – by Kathryn Nave (Wired U.K. – July 4, 2017)

On May 25, 2008, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite transmitted a grainy image back to Earth. It showed two white dots – the Phoenix Mars lander and its parachute – descending against the backdrop of the planet’s vast Heimdal impact crater. Chris Lewicki, the Phoenix mission’s manager, hadn’t seen the lander since its launch on August 3, 2007, on board the Delta II rocket that carried it into space. The Phoenix landed 20km from the huge crater, kick-starting its search for microbial-friendly habitats on Mars.

For Nasa, this was the beginning of another successful mission, but to Lewicki, things began to feel repetitive. He had first become obsessed with space at the age of 11, when he saw images of Nasa’s Voyager mission, the space probe that captured images of the Solar System’s outer planets. He studied Aerospace Engineering at the University of Arizona and, in 1999, joined Nasa, where he rose through the ranks. In 2003, at the age of 29, he oversaw the landing of the Spirit and the Opportunity Mars Rovers.

Those missions were the fulfilment of his childhood dream. Now, with the Phoenix – his third mission to Mars – he began to feel restless. “A lot of my friends were working on the next big robot project, Curiosity,” he says. “But that felt like the easy thing to do.” So he started casting around for a new job. Continue Reading →

NASA Just Fast-Tracked Its Mission to Explore a $10,000 Quadrillion Metal Asteroid – by BEC CREW (Science Alert – May 25, 2017)

It would collapse the global economy if we brought it home.

It might have just pushed back its manned mission to Mars, but NASA just fast-tracked a planned journey to 16 Psyche – an asteroid made almost entirely of nickel-iron metal.

Estimated to contain $10,000 quadrillion in iron alone, if we could somehow mine Psyche’s minerals and bring them back to Earth, it would collapse our comparatively puny global economy of $78 trillion many times over. Fortunately for the economic stability of our planet, NASA plans on looking but not extracting.

“It’s such a strange object,” Lindy Elkins-Tanton, lead scientist on the NASA mission and the director of Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, told Global News Canada back in January. “Even if we could grab a big metal piece and drag it back here … what would you do?” she adds. Continue Reading →

GOLD RUSH IN SPACE China plans to build asteroid ‘bases’ to mine TRILLIONS of dollars worth of precious metals – and take on the US – by Jasper Hamill (The Sun – May 9, 2017)

Beijing’s bid to mine space rocks could bring so much wealth back to Earth that it crashes the planet’s economy

CHINA plans to build a base on an asteroid and begin mining billions or even trillions of dollars worth of precious metals. Yesterday, a top scientist revealed plans to land an unmanned craft on a space rock, potentially putting Beijing’s asteroid miners in direct competition with American space prospectors.

The asteroid will then be mined or even used to piggyback probes into deep space. Ye Peijian, a deep-space exploration expert at the China Academy of Space Technology, told an “asteroid exploration forum” that 900 space rocks zoom past Earth every year.

Many of these priceless asteroids contain vast amounts of metals such as platinum, iridium or rhodium. “In the near future, we will study ways to send robots or astronauts to mine suitable asteroids and transport the resources back to Earth,” he said, according to China Daily. Continue Reading →

Canadore collaborates on space mining tool – by Staff (Northern Ontario Busines – April 26, 2017)

Sudbury drill firm utilizes North Bay industrial design lab

Canadore College’s innovation centre teamed up with a Sudbury space mining company and a mining supplier on a leading edge drill to be used in deep space exploration.

The staff at the North Bay college’s Innovation Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Production (ICAMP) has been working with Deltion Innovations and Atlas Copco for nearly eight months to produce prototype tool ends for Deltion’s space mining multi-purpose tool, called PROMPT (Percussive and Rotary Multi-Purpose Tool).

Atlas and Deltion brought the PROMPT concept and tool designs to Canadore’s industrial design lab at its Commerce Court campus for manufacturing and production. According to a college news release, the centre utilized its “additive manufacturing resources,” including its 3D metal printer and computer numerical control equipment, to prototype the commissioned parts. Continue Reading →

Space May Be Next Frontier for Earth’s Crude Oil Giants, Analyst Says – by Dan Murtaugh (Bloomberg News – April 23, 2017)

The Middle East has an outsize impact on energy here on Earth. One analyst thinks some regional powerhouses may leverage that role into the development of natural resources in space.

Countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are developing space programs and investing in nascent private space commodity initiatives, said Tom James, a partner at energy consultant Navitas Resources. Doing so could give them a foothold in building extraterrestrial reserves of water — a substance likely to fuel travel within space — and other resources that could be used for in-space manufacturing.

“Water is the new oil of space,” James said in Singapore. “Middle East investment in space is growing as it works to shift from an oil-based to a knowledge-based economy.” Continue Reading →

China has a shocking plan for the moon – by Dan Taylor (Morning Ticker – January 29, 2017)

Watch out, moon, China is coming for you, and they have big plans for what lies beneath your surface. China is getting involved in the new space race this time, and their plans include being the first to mine the moon for its precious resources.

A mission set for later this year would involve gathering samples from the moon and laying the groundwork for a future mining operation on the lunar surface, which holds all sorts of precious minerals and other resources that are difficult for us humans to access, to say the least.

China’s Chang’e 5 mission will be the program’s first major effort to get on the moon. It will involve sending a robotic probe that will land on the lunar surface and retrieve a sample that it will take back to Earth for study. That mission is set for this November, and would be China’s first ever sample retrieval mission in space. Continue Reading →

[Mining] SPACE: America Needs a New Moon Mission – by Adam Minter (Bloomberg News – December 25, 2016)

Fifty years ago, the U.S. had the moon to itself. Starting in 1969, when the first of six Apollo missions touched down, it seemed likely that American astronauts would make a long-term home on the lunar surface. Instead, the U.S. sent its last manned mission there in 1972, and won’t be returning any time soon. That’s a shame: The moon is now a more compelling destination than ever.

Other countries, seeing new scientific and commercial potential there, have started to fill the exploration gap, including China, Russia and Japan. Perhaps the most ambitious effort is the European Space Agency’s “moon village,” which is intended to be a permanent international outpost on the lunar surface.

In recent weeks, the concept has gained considerable momentum as Europe’s science ministers and private space companies have embraced it. If the U.S. wants to join them, and resume its historic role as the leader in lunar exploration, it’ll need a major shift in priorities. Continue Reading →

John Glenn, former astronaut and senator of Ohio, has died at 95 – by Seth Borenstein ( – December 8, 2016)

Glenn, the first US astronaut to orbit the Earth in 1962, died Thursday

ASSOCIATED PRESS – WASHINGTON (AP) — John Glenn, whose 1962 flight as the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth made him an all-American hero and propelled him to a long career in the U.S. Senate, died Thursday. The last survivor of the original Mercury 7 astronauts was 95.

Glenn died at the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where he was hospitalized for more than a week, said Hank Wilson, communications director for the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. John Herschel Glenn Jr. had two major career paths that often intersected: flying and politics, and he soared in both of them.

Before he gained fame orbiting the world, he was a fighter pilot in two wars, and as a test pilot, he set a transcontinental speed record. He later served 24 years in the Senate from Ohio. A rare setback was a failed 1984 run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Continue Reading →

Mining robots key to colonizing Mars — Elon Musk – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – October 24, 2016)

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk, who last month revealed details of his ambitious plans to get at least a million people to Mars, said mining robots will be a key part of the planned colonization of the red planet.

In reply to several inquiries during a question-and-answer “AMA” session on Reddit on Sunday, the tech billionaire — who also heads electric-vehicle specialist Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) — highlighted the vital role mining equipment is set to play when it comes to help people establish their homes in Mars.

He said he envisions geodesic domes on the surface made with glass panes supported by carbon fibre frames. Such structures would have additional areas mined out below the surface by robots for “industrial” uses. Continue Reading →