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Credit: 24K-Production/BigStock Photo ID: 395598812

Mining the heavens: companies pursue space resources

Mining asteroids could offer potential relief for Earth's resource strain.

Sarah Scoles reports for Undark.


In short:

  • A new wave of companies, including AstroForge, aims to mine asteroids for valuable metals like platinum and cobalt, which are essential for electronics and electric vehicle batteries.
  • Despite previous failures in asteroid mining, current prospects are bolstered by reduced rocket costs and favorable regulatory changes, sparking renewed interest.
  • Innovations such as simulated extraction missions and telescopes for detecting asteroids are among the strategies companies are deploying to realize their cosmic ambitions.

Key quote:

“People were much more supportive of mining asteroids than other forms of frontier mining like mining the ocean floor, mining Antarctica, and mining the Alaskan tundra."

— Matthew Hornsey, University of Queensland, lead study author.

Why this matters:

Space mining presents a potentially less environmentally damaging alternative to terrestrial extraction, especially crucial for clean energy technologies. However, the challenges of space debris and ethical concerns about cosmic exploitation remain formidable.

Read more: In push to mine for minerals, clean energy advocates ask what going green really means.

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