With all the talk lately about avoiding asteroids, some Earthlings are instead interested in getting close to them.
It turns out that asteroids have a tremendous potential for wealth in the form of mining, and entrepreneurs are betting on the possibility. Stott Space Inc., for example, has already taken an initiative with the launch of its Indiegogo campaign. The company believes it can begin the mining of asteroids on a large scale within the decade.
"This is not your typical space travel dream," says Stott Space Inc. CEO Isaac Stott. "Current goals by existing asteroid mining companies are too small, and we know we can do better. By focusing our efforts on affordable and realistic technology, and allowing for our fellow humans to contribute to the development of this technology, we hope to make space the next destination for mankind."
But why asteroids? Many mining-industry experts actually feel that asteroid mining is the future because it is believed the objects hold much higher concentrations of nickel, iron ore and precious metals than those found on Earth — where many of our own mining resources are quickly running out.
At the Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA) conference held on Thursday March 7 in Toronto, organization head Arny Sokoloff told attendees that off-planet mining would become a crucial component of space development. In a statement to the Canadian press, he stressed that governments should offer tax benefits as encouragement to those involved in asteroid mining, in the same way those benefits are offered to current mining companies.
Others interested in asteroid mining include former Congressman Bart Gordon, a lobbyist for Planetary Resources, a company seeking to mine asteroids for rare metals. Even film director James Cameron and Google CEO Larry Page want in on the action, announcing last year that they are backing a mega-million dollar plan to extract asteroid resources.
"Private capitalists are saying, 'If NASA won't fund this thing, why not private enterprise?' " says City University of New York physics professor Michio Kaku. "If they get a piece of the action, that's going to be on the table as well, whether or not entrepreneurs can see a gold rush in outer space."