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Asteroid Mining Company to Take Flight (Live Stream)

Asteroid Mining Company to Take Flight (Live Stream)

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First Posted: Jan 22, 2013 09:44 AM EST
Astronomers have made a surprising discovery. They've found the first Trojan asteroid sharing the orbit of Uranus and believe that it could be part of a larger-than-expected population of similar objects. The findings could shed light on the distant planet. (Photo : Pixabay)

Mining usually entails digging deep under Earth's surface to find the riches beneath. But now a new company has settled on a different location for its mining exploits: space. Deep Space Industries, Inc. announced on Tuesday that it plans to launch a fleet of prospecting spacecraft in 2015 to begin the process of mining asteroids.

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Deep Space isn't the first of its kind, though. Planetary Resources unveiled its own plans last April. Although the idea may seem farfetched, Deep Space believes that its business plan will be not only viable, but highly successful. As the price of gold and other precious metals skyrockets, mining asteroids could be a way to get a foot in the door when it comes to providing rare minerals to the market.

Currently, the firm plans to inspect potential mining targets with 55-pound spacecraft named FireFlies. Launching in 2015, these low-cost ships will hitch a ride to space aboard rockets that carry large communications satellites. They will pave the way for 70-pound spacecraft called Dragonflies, which will bring asteroid samples back to Earth after completing missions that will last between two to four years. These samples will then help the firm decide whether or not certain asteroids are viable targets for mining. Within ten years, the company hopes to begin extracting metals and other building materials from the asteroids.

The missions won't be completely private, either. The firm plans to allow the public to participate in the FireFly and DragonFly missions via live feeds from Mission Control. In addition, they hope to also offer online courses in asteroid mining sponsored by corporate marketers.

While Deep Space may have high hopes for its future, it will most likely receive tough competition from its rival firm, Planetary Resources. The other company is backed by private-spaceflight pioneers Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson and is funded by Google executives.

Deep Space plans to hold a press conference today at 1 p.m. EST. You can watch the live webcast of it here.

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