Mission to rare metal asteroid could spark space mining boom – by Denise Chow (NBC News – July 10, 2019)


All that glitters … may be gold. At least that’s what scientists think about a shiny, Massachusetts-size asteroid that may be chock-full of precious metals.

NASA recently approved a mission to visit the metallic space rock, which orbits the sun in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The mission — the first to a metal asteroid — could reveal secrets about our solar system’s earliest days while setting the stage for a future space mining industry.

“We think the metallic class of asteroids are the remains of ancient cores of planets,” said Jim Bell, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University in Tempe and deputy principal investigator of NASA’s Psyche mission.

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That Giant Asteroid of Gold Won’t Make Us Richer – by Noah Smith (Bloomberg News – July 8, 2019)


(Bloomberg Opinion) — Rejoice, people of Earth! News outlets are reporting that NASA is planning to visit an asteroid made of gold and other precious metals!

At current prices, the minerals contained in asteroid 16 Psyche are said to be worth $700 quintillion — enough to give everyone on the planet $93 billion. We’re all going to be richer than Jeff Bezos! OK, now for the bad news: This isn’t going to happen. Yes, 16 Psyche and other asteroids will probably be mined for their metals.

But once those metals start hitting the market in large quantities, they’re unlikely to be precious for much longer. As any introductory economics student knows, price is a function of relative scarcity — flood the market with gold, and it will go from being a rarity to being a common decoration. Supply goes up, price goes down.

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China’s New Wealth-Creation Scheme: Mining the Moon – by Jack H. Burke (National Review/Yahoo News – June 13, 2019)


On January 3, 2019, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) soft-landed a spacecraft, the Chang’e-4 (嫦娥四号) robotic lander and rover, on the far side of the moon, the first such landing in history.

Chang’e-4, named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology, touched down in the Von Kármán crater in the lunar southern hemisphere and then released its rover, Yutu-2 (玉兔二号), to explore the lunar landscape.

Yutu-2 has proven a great success. As of June 10, the rover, named after the “Jade Rabbit,” a companion of the moon goddess, had traveled over 212 meters across the lunar surface, giving the far side of the moon “its first set of rover tracks,” as Mike Wall put it last January.

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Lunar goldrush: Can mining the moon become big business? – by Tom Hoggins (The Telegraph – May 16, 2019)


Amid the recent boom in extraterrestrial exploration, a new frontier for private companies and space agencies appears to have emerged: mining the moon for precious resources. Once thought to be a beautiful but largely barren rock, the moon is now believed by some to be a treasure trove of rich materials that could play a vital role in the Earth’s future.

For instance, space agencies hoping to mine the moon say oxygen in its regolith – or lunar soil – could be used to power life support and fuel rockets in space, while rare metals could be ferried back to Earth to be used in everything from gadgets to construction.

What has got the industry most excited, however, is the Helium-3 isotope that is present in moondust, which has been touted as a possible key to safe nuclear energy. But despite its hidden treasure, is mining the moon a viable commercial project?

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Trump seeks extra $1.6 billion in NASA spending to return to moon by 2024 – by Joey Roulette (Reuters U.S. – May 13, 2019)


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration asked Congress on Monday to increase NASA spending next year by an extra $1.6 billion as a “down payment” to accommodate the accelerated goal of returning Americans to the surface of the moon by 2024.

The increased funding request, announced by President Donald Trump on Twitter, comes nearly two months after Vice President Mike Pence declared the objective of shortening by four years NASA’s previous timeline for putting astronauts back on the moon for the first time since 1972.

The proposed increase would bring NASA’s total spending level for the 2020 fiscal year to $22.6 billion. The bulk of the increase is earmarked for research and development of a human lunar landing system, according to a summary provided by NASA.

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FLY ME TO THE MOON: Germany eyes slice of lucrative space market – by Andrea Shalal (Reuters – April 28, 2019)


Facing tough competition from China, the United States and even tiny Luxembourg, Germany is racing to draft new laws and attract private investment to secure a slice of an emerging space market that could be worth $1 trillion a year by the 2040s.

The drive to give Germany a bigger role in space comes as European, Asian and U.S. companies stake out ground in an evolving segment that promises contracts for everything from exploration to mining of outer-space resources.

Firms likely to benefit from any future spending rise in Germany include Airbus, which co-owns the maker of Europe’s Ariane space rockets, and Bremen-based OHB.

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THE DRIFT: The cold, hard realities of mining on the moon: Greg Baiden Sudbury mining engineer takes pragmatic approach to space mining – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – April 10, 2019)


Greg Baiden once introduced himself at a NASA space mining conference in California as a “recovering asteroid miner.” The CEO of Penguin Automated Systems had been enlisted by the agency to bring a healthy dose of pragmatism to a roomful of high-minded scientists and entrepreneurs about the realities of mining in a hostile and extreme environment.

After listening to more than his share of science fiction stories over the years, Baiden felt he had to inject some Sudbury sensibility to the wider discussion.

So to establish his credentials, Baiden began his presentation by mentioning that his former employer, Inco (now Vale), has been mining the remnants of an asteroid impact in Sudbury for the past 130 years.

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Plan to Mine the Moon Gives Australia Opening in New Space Era – by James Thornhill (Bloomberg News – April 1, 2019)


Australia is joining the growing number of nations looking to compete in space, from launching micro satellites that track sheep to mining water on the moon. Its advantage? Half the country already looks like Mars.

With advances in technology and the falling cost of launch slots, the fledgling Australian Space Agency, set up last year, is taking a commercial approach to extra-terrestrial ventures. It aims to leverage the country’s industrial skills in mining remote locations, developing automation and tapping a fast-growing start-up culture to triple the size of the sector to A$12 billion ($8.5 billion) by 2030.

“We’re witnessing a massive transformation of the sector, due to things like the miniaturization of technology, the lowering cost of launch and faster innovation cycles,” ASA Deputy Head, Anthony Murfett said in an interview. ASA aims to be “one of the most industry-focused space agencies in the world.”

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[Mining Asteroids] OPINION: Relax: An asteroid will just miss hitting Earth. But our actions could still have a deep impact – by Michael Byers and Aaron Boley (Globe and Mail – March 19, 2019)


Michael Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law. Aaron Boley holds the Canada Research Chair in Planetary Astronomy. Both are at the University of British Columbia, where they co-direct the Outer Space Institute.

On Wednesday evening, depending on where in Canada you are, you might be leaving school or work, having dinner, or already fast asleep in bed.

Meanwhile, an asteroid the size of a seven-storey building – designated 2019 EA2, to reflect the fact that it is the second asteroid to pass close to Earth this year, and spotted just two weeks ago through a telescope in Arizona – will buzz by the planet we call home. The good news? The 24-metre-wide asteroid will miss us by 300,000 kilometres.

The bad news: asteroids do hit the Earth. Most harmlessly break into pieces as they enter Earth’s atmosphere, but even a relatively small asteroid can damage property and injure people. In 2013, a 17-meter-wide asteroid sent 1,500 people to hospital in Chelyabinsk, Russia, most of them injured by flying glass from broken windows.

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[Space Mining] Maple moon rising: a gateway to better Canada-US relations? – by Christopher Sands and Sean Kelly (Policy Options – March 2019)


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on February 28 that Canada would join the United States in its Lunar Gateway project, becoming the first international partner to officially sign on. The announcement came with a financial commitment of $2 billion over 24 years.

Then, on March 6, Minister for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains launched a comprehensive new Canadian space policy. Titled Exploration, Imagination, Innovation: A New Space Policy for Canada, the strategy sets federal research funding priorities for space science in four areas: lunar science, artificial intelligence, robotics and health.

The goal is to highlight areas in which Canada has already developed deep expertise while accelerating cutting-edge research to ensure that Canada can continue to contribute as a partner of choice for the US and other countries engaged in space exploration.

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Russia wants to join Luxembourg in space mining – by Vladimir Soldatkin (Reuters U.S. – March 6, 2019)


LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – Russia, a leading producer of natural resources, plans to join Luxembourg in mining for minerals in outer space, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said on Wednesday.

Space mining has been the realm of science fiction, but a handful of firms and governments are pursuing the idea of making it a reality. The small Duchy of Luxembourg became the first country to adopt legal regulations relating to mining in space, including from asteroids.

“In January we offered Luxembourg a framework agreement on cooperation in the use of (mining) exploration in space. We expect an answer from Luxembourg,” said Golikova, part of a Russian delegation headed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

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European Space Agency has sights set on mining the moon – by Mark R. Whittington (The Hill – February 1, 2019)


The European Space Agency has partnered with ArianeGroup to study a possible mission to the moon in 2025 to test the mining of lunar regolith, according to Popular Mechanics. Part-Time Scientists, a German group and former Google Lunar XPrize contestant, will also be involved in the study.

The goal is to place a lander on the lunar surface to mine and process regolith for useful materials such as water, oxygen, metals and an isotope called helium-3, which may prove useful for fueling future fusion reactors.

Regolith, according to Universe Today, is a dust-like material that covers the lunar surface and is the result of billions of years of meteor and comet impacts. Future lunar settlers could use the regolith to build habitats for a moon base, or as the Europeans call it, a Moon Village using 3D printers and robotic assemblers.

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Green New Deal will only happen if we go back to the moon – by Mark R. Whittington (The Hill – January 11, 2019)


You have to hand it to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez (D-N.Y.). For someone who was, just a year ago, a bartender, she has some ambitious plans now that she is a member of Congress.

Among Ocasio–Cortez’s projects is something called the Green New Deal. The plan would mandate that the United States transform its energy infrastructure from one based on fossil fuels to one based on renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. Thus, the problem of climate change will have been solved and the Earth would be saved. Big-pocketed people like Tom Steyer, an environmentalist billionaire donor, view the idea with favor.

Lots of reasons exist to dismiss the Green New Deal, it being a product born more of delusion than sound analysis. However, if the government were to embark upon making it a reality, the scheme might have an unintended side effect of supporting a return to the moon.

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[Deltion] Sudbury space mining developer signs deal with U.S. company – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – October 10, 2018)


A Sudbury-based space tech company and a Florida space transport company are joining forces for the future of off-Earth mining projects.

Deltion Innovations Ltd and Moon Express, Inc., announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding, Oct. 10, to collaborate on providing drilling equipment and transportation solutions for private companies and government agencies engaged in space exploration.

Deltion CEO Dale Boucher explained they had been working on this partnership for about two years. “We talked with them for quite some time to be able to provide a one-stop shop for lunar science and lunar mining activities,” he said in an interview with Northern Ontario Business.

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Wanted: Canadian moon rover, space mining technology – by Jim Bronskill (CBC News Technology – September 25, 2018)


With an eye on future lunar exploration, Canada’s space agency is calling on companies to present their ideas for everything from moon-rover power systems to innovative mineral prospecting techniques.

The Canadian Space Agency issued the tender this week for projects that will put Canada in position to contribute to future space missions involving human and robotic exploration of the moon.

The idea is to demonstrate technologies at agency headquarters in Saint-Hubert, Que., next year with possible follow-up testing in the Canary Islands in 2020. Canada is already quietly working with space agencies in Europe, Japan and the United States on the next phases of exploring the final frontier.

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