Deep Space Industries of McLean, Virginia is ready to go after the 1,700 near-Earth asteroids that are easier to reach than the moon.
(Deep Space my dwelling place...)
The basic idea behind DSI is to start out very small and eventually grow into a major supplier of propellants and materials for space exploration and exploitation. DSIís immediate plan is to carry out prospecting for possible candidates for mining and selling the data to governments and businesses.
Eventually, the company would expand into retrieving raw feedstock from asteroids and converting it into into air, water and propellant. The propellant could be supplied to geostationary communications satellites, a market DSI claims is currently worth US$25 million per ton due to the cost of transporting it from Earth.
Meanwhile, water, air and propellant would also be offered to the ISS and other space stations as well as to NASA and other space agencies engaged in deep space missions. To this would be added manufacturing of spare parts in space using asteroid materials and then much larger engineering operations and the extraction of precious metals.
DSI emphasizes that it isnít in the business of launching satellites or building rockets, leaving that to other concerns. Rather, it intends to get its own satellites into orbit by sending up several at once in a piggyback operation with other satellite launches.
Science fiction fans have been looking forward to this for more than one hundred years. In his 1898 classic Edison's Conquest of Mars, Garrett P. Serviss describes the discovery of a golden asteroid:
"But where is the gold?" cried one.
"Covered up, of course," said Lord Kelvin. "Buried in star dust. This asteroid could not have continued to travel for millions of years through regions of space strewn with meteoric particles without becoming covered with the inevitable dust and grime of such a journey. We must dig down, and then doubtless we shall find the metal."
This hint was instantly acted upon. Something that would serve for a spade was seized by one of the men, and in a few minutes a hole had been dug in the comparatively light soil of the asteroid.
(Read more about asteroid mining in the 19th century)