Science & Technology

Space race heats up: Deep Space Industries plans to visit asteroid by 2020

One of many two large gamers within the asteroid mining market, Deep Space Industries, right this moment unveiled its plan to land a 110-pound spacecraft on a near-Earth asteroid by 2020.

The spacecraft, often known as Prospector-1, would examine the yet-to-be-selected asteroid to decide the worth of its sources for mining. It’ll additionally put Deep Space Industries’ water-based propulsion system to an interplanetary check.

“Deep Space Industries has labored diligently to get to this level, and now we are able to say with confidence that we’ve got the correct expertise, the correct staff and the correct plan to execute this historic mission,” Rick Tumlinson, DSI’s board chairman and co-founder, said in a news release.

California-based DSI and its partners in Luxembourg say they’ll launch a precursor satellite tv for pc known as Prospector-X into low Earth orbit subsequent 12 months to check the applied sciences that might be used for Prospector-1.

DSI sees near-Earth asteroids as probably precious sources for supplies starting from plain previous water ice – which will be processed into breathable oxygen and drinkable water in addition to propellant – to in-space constructing supplies and valuable metals.

If DSI sticks to its schedule, Prospector-1 may change into the primary business asteroid mining exploration mission. Nonetheless, Planetary Resources, which relies in Redmond, Wash., can be taking intention at asteroids.

Planetary Assets had its first precursor spacecraft, Arkyd-3R, deployed into orbit for a five-month test mission final 12 months. A bigger spacecraft, the Arkyd-6A, is being readied for launch later this 12 months and can observe Earth in infrared wavelengths as a apply spherical for asteroid prospecting.

Planetary Assets says its next-generation house telescopes, often known as the Arkyd 100 and Arkyd 200, may begin learning the composition of near-Earth asteroids within the 2017-2019 time-frame. On the identical time, the corporate plans to create a constellation of Earth-observing satellites known as Ceres.

If appropriate targets are recognized, Planetary Assets may start extracting supplies from asteroids by the mid-2020s, in accordance to the corporate’s president and CEO, Chris Lewicki.

Planetary Assets has raised tens of millions of dollars since its founding in 2012. Deep Space Industries was based a 12 months later, and has raised an undisclosed amount of seed money from buyers together with Metatron International. Each corporations have solid partnerships with Luxembourg’s authorities as a part of that European nation’s SpaceResources.lu initiative.

DSI’s spacecraft will use an experimental water-based propulsion system that’s been dubbed Comet. The system is designed to generate thrust by expeling superheated water vapor.

The mission plan for Prospector-1 calls for choosing a promising asteroid and sending out the 110-pound (50-kilogram) spacecraft for a rendezvous past Earth orbit. The solar-powered probe would map the asteroid’s floor and subsurface composition utilizing visible and infrared imagery in addition to readings from a neutron spectrometer.

After the scientific mapping mission, the probe would contact down on the floor and conduct additional measurements.

“The power to find, journey to and analyze probably rick provides of house sources is essential to our plans,” Daniel Faber, the CEO of Deep Space Industries, mentioned in right this moment’s launch. “This implies not simply wanting on the goal, however truly making contact.”

DSI plans to have its spacecraft refuel themselves utilizing water ice from the asteroids they examine. “By studying to ‘reside off the land’ in house, Deep Space Industires is ushering in a brand new period of limitless financial enlargement,” Tumlinson mentioned.

As well as to its asteroid mining plan, DSI is developing small satellites for HawkEye360’s Pathfinder radio frequency mapping constellation.

Correction: The unique model of this story erroneously listed Space Angels Community as an investor in Deep Space Community. Chad Anderson, the community’s managing director, says that’s not so. “We now have, nonetheless, invested in Planetary Assets a lot of instances over the quick few years,” he informed GeekWire in an electronic mail.

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