The private space exploration industry is booming! We all know the ambition behind space exploration companies like SpaceX, but now another private company called Deep Space Industries (great name!) is looking to expand its business into outer space.
According to The Verge, the company plans to explore and possibly mine asteroids that orbit near our planet. They have a plan to launch an unmanned “FireFly” spacecraft to survey asteroids in 2015. Deep Space Industries also plans to launch a heavier “DragonFly” spacecraft sometime between 2016 and 2020. This later mission will survey and bring back chunks of asteroids for further research.
If their missions are successful, the private space exploration and mining company hope to mine asteroids for fuel. This sounds a bit like the premise of Duncan Jones’ film, Moon, only with asteroids instead of the Moon. Here’s more from Deep Space Industries’ statement:
In a decade, Deep Space will be harvesting asteroids for metals and other building materials, to construct large communications platforms to replace communications satellites, and later solar power stations to beam carbon-free energy to consumers on Earth.
Deep Space Industries is also looking to develop technology for 3D printers that use nickel-charged gas to print metal components in zero gravity. This will create a “Microgravity Foundry,” which is assumed to cut costs in terms of sending supplies to these orbiting asteroids.
The company is currently looking for more funding, namely for its initial mission in 2015. Although NASA has expressed some interest in the company’s potential, Deep Space Industries isn’t as well funded as its competitors, SpaceX, Golden Spike, and Planetary Resources, but the company’s CEO, David Gump, is confident in Deep Space Industries’ future ventures. Gump says, “The public will participate in FireFly and DragonFly missions via live feeds from Mission Control, online courses in asteroid mining sponsored by corporate marketers, and other innovative ways to open the doors wide…”
It’s exciting to see private companies like Deep Space Industries making a real commitment to furthering space exploration. [If I get to fly to Mars in my lifetime, I don’t care whose logo is stamped across the side of the ship. – Ed.]