Mining the Sky II

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What if the greatest discovery of natural resources did not take place here on Earth, but in the sky? What if instead of just mining the Earth, we reached beyond our economic sphere and mined the outer space as well?

Sounds a little crazy, you might be thinking. Well, think again; sky mining is happening, and it is happening now. Planetary Resources Inc. is spearheading an effort to start mining near-Earth asteroids for human-friendly materials; everything from water to precious platinum-group metals.

Founded by a group of audacious billionaires, the Company plans to send swarms of robots to space to scout asteroids for resources and set up mines to bring the resources back to Earth, aiming in the process to “add trillions of dollars to the Global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), help ensure humanity’s prosperity and pave the way for the human settlement of space”.

The announcement of their plan and their sky-high hopes raised waves of skepticism amongst scientists and media-providers alike, who struggled to see how such an endeavor—if indeed possible to achieve—can be cost effective, even with platinum and gold priced at USD 1,600 an ounce. A recent NASA mission returning with just two ounces of material from an asteroid to Earth cost about USD 1 billion. Scientists question how the company can reduce costs to the point where space mining can be profitable.

Skepticism is often my selected approach, but with the kind of genius brain power and deep-pocketed investors this project has attracted, it certainly demands attention and cannot be simply deemed unworthy. With an impressive list of big names of this project founders, one cannot help being excited and optimistic about this daring project; a project that could change forever, and for the better, the entire nature of civilization on Earth, and open a doorway to the riches of the heavens.

The shortage of sources for raw materials on the planet has caused global inflation to spike in recent years, leading to tensions to rise between nations and putting humanity at risk. If sky mining was indeed successful, all such tension can come to an end.

Harnessing valuable minerals from a practically infinite source will provide stability on Earth, increase humanity’s prosperity, and open up endless opportunities for the presence of humans in space. In my humble opinion, such a goal far outweighs the economic risks of the skeptics; I will certainly be crossing my fingers for this one.

References

www.planetaryresources.com
www.miningthesky.com
www.wired.com
www.dailymail.co.uk

*You might also be interested to read "Mining the Sky"

**The orginial article was published in the PSC Newsletter2nd School Semester 2012/2013 issue.

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