Asteroid Mining: Near future, or a pipe dream?


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A popular topic regarding future science fiction stories is the increasing lack of raw materials
available on Earth. A popular explanation for humanity’s continued existence is migrating to
another planet.

While that may be far off, asteroid mining for materials is far more likely.
Asteroid mining is self-explanatory; it is simply the mining of an extraterrestrial object near Earth
to extract materials used by humanity.

There is no definitive creator of asteroid mining, and the first mention of the concept was in
1898, by Garrett P. Serviss in Edison’s Conquest of Mars, a science fiction story. National
Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, has been theorizing and developing possible
ways that asteroid mining could be achieved.

Other companies, such as Planetary Resources, have planned operations to establish a stable mining route. Another company, Deep Space Industries, plans to begin asteroid mining as soon as 2023. So far, no serious attempts at a mining expedition have been established.

When confronted with the science behind asteroid mining, the obvious ones, such as physics for
the creation of rockets to send out in the first place, are not major problems. Instead, scientists
are developing ways for the rockets to convert space material into a usable fuel, a current idea
is to split water into hydrogen via solar energy, reducing fuel costs and making expeditions both
more efficient and cheaper.

No drawbacks of mining asteroids have yet been found, both because no asteroids have been
mined yet, and because there is no evidence that it will have repercussions. As the looming
threat of scarcity comes ever closer, it may very well be that asteroid mining becomes the only
way to obtain resources.

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