Remember Frank Poole, an astronaut who was deliberately killed by HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey? In third sequel his body is discovered in the Kuiper belt, beyond the orbit of Neptune, by the comet-collecting space tug Goliath. Idea of space tug made my teenage mind start racing about possibilities waiting in technology yet to be discovered, asteroid mining.
Not long ago I read an amazing article about an asteroid 24 Themis which apparently has frozen water on it and in months to come more and more asteroids with similar characteristics were discovered, like Vesta for example. My news reader is set to pick-up keyword asteroid and the other day the most brilliant news in possibly 30 years showed up there: James Cameron, Google Founder Back Space-Mining Venture.
Asteroid mining is not a new idea. Concept old as space science fiction but what is special about this particular venture is the fact that this is first time in our civilization history when humans have technology, resources and knowledge to accomplish this task. Arthur Clarke was visionary like many others before and after him and from the logical point of view it is the only concept which make sense. Why to carry a heavy load from Earth to Space when all those materials can be found there? In order to start explore Solar System we will have to utilize smaller objects drifting in space rather than colonize deserts like Mars!
Now it is time for private companies to go out there and make all this works because governments space projects already failed. After 50 years in Space all we have now are advanced satellites and International Space Station? They got stuck in administration, lack of funding or vision. If one is looking at the big picture the present situation is very similar to one in Europe 500 years ago. America has been discovered. New lands, treasures and spices. Possibilities for many who had no chance to prosper. Modern world is suffering from the same illness and we desperately need a new big thing and new horizons. Since we went global now the only possible place is out there the Universe itself. Which is great! That is where we belong. Recent discoveries claims that we came from out there! After a series of meteor impacts to the young Earth.
Science still has trouble explaining gravity and ways to use it in more advanced ways rather than simply spinning around planets in order to speed-up. Since we do not have technology yet to use it at least we should make it easier for us to prosper in Solar System. My point is simple anti-gravity propulsion is yet to be discovered and until then, we should utilize smaller objects first. Their gravity is significantly less than any planet size object and yet it is now obvious that we can find all raw materials on most of the asteroids as we can on any other planet. Precious materials will add significant value to the world economy. Instead polluting the only known human habitable object in Space we should go out there and simply pick object, alter its trajectory and eventually make it orbit around Moon. Smaller ones first, up to 1km in size, objects rich in rare materials which came out as debris after numerous collisions between ancient planets can be safely secured in Moon’s gravity pool. Asteroid mining is ideal place to develop new generations of affordable nano-technology space miners. In less than 100 years most of the world’s manufacturing processes can be established on or around the Moon, too. Natural resources and their geographic location is the reason for 90% of all conflicts today. If you take resources out from the equation you are taking also “3rd World countries” and then we may finally be able to prosper in peace. People should be more involved to their personal development so we can leave conflicts behind. The first step is go out there and find objects which can be easiest to utilize so these guys from Planetary Resources have my full support! Smart man ones wrote that shortage of resources is “…an illusion born of ignorance.”