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Asteroid_Itokawa_anatomy_ESO_525Schematic view of asteroid (25143) Itokawa. (Credit: ESO)

Asteroids are the best real estate in the Solar System

Despite their celestial age, our understanding of asteroids is still in its infancy. However, the more we learn about them, the more enticing destinations they become.

Asteroids are primordial material left over from the formation of the Solar System. They are scattered throughout it: some pass close to the Sun, and others are found out beyond the orbit of Neptune. A vast majority have been collected by Jupiter’s gravity into a belt between it and Mars – an area known as the Main Belt. As it turns out, we have been discovering thousands of asteroids that do not belong to the Main Belt, but instead pass near Earth’s orbit – nearly 9,000 to date, with almost a thousand more discovered every year.

Many of these near-Earth asteroids are easily accessible from Earth. And many contain enormous quantities of accessible resources.

An Incredible Resource

There are over 1,500 asteroids that are as easy to get to as the surface of the Moon. They are also in Earth-like orbits with small gravity fields, making them easier to approach and depart.

Asteroid resources have some unique characteristics that make them especially attractive. Unlike Earth, where heavier metals are close to the core, metals in asteroids are distributed throughout their body, making them easier to extract.

Asteroids contain valuable and useful materials like iron, nickel, water, and rare platinum group metals, often in significantly higher concentration than found in mines on Earth.

We are only just beginning to realize the incredible potential of asteroids. The first encounter of a spacecraft with an asteroid was in 1991, as the Galileo spacecraft flew by the 951 Gaspra asteroid on its way to Jupiter. Our knowledge of these celestial neighbors has been revolutionized by a small set of US and international missions carried out since that time. With each visit or fly-by, the science on asteroids has been rewritten.

Space Property Rights Bill In US Congress Could Facilitate Commercial Lunar Development

TrillionsAsteroid0714

Proving that there is some vision in Congress after all, U.S. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) have introduced introduced the American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities in Deep Space (ASTEROIDS) Act of 2014, which “establishes and protects property rights for commercial space exploration and utilization of asteroid resources.”

Now, if they can only get a budget passed by the end of the fiscal year, Congress could demonstrate vision and basic competence at governance, something it hasn’t achieved in many years. (It’s looking like another continuing resolution for NASA.)

But, I digress.

You will note that Kilmer is from Washington state, which is home to….wait for it….Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company backed by all those billionaires. Coincidence? I think not.

A press release from Posey follows.

Asteroids are excellent potential sources of highly valuable resources and minerals,” said Rep. Bill Posey, a Member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. “Our knowledge of asteroids – their number, location, and composition – has been increasing at a tremendous rate and space technology has advanced to the point where the private sector is now able to begin planning such expeditions. Our legislation will help promote private exploration and protect commercial rights as these endeavors move forward and I thank Representative Kilmer for working with me to help advance this industry.”

“We may be many years away from successfully mining an asteroid, but the research to turn this from science fiction into reality is being done today,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer, a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. “Businesses in Washington state and elsewhere are investing in this opportunity, but in order to grow and create more jobs they need greater certainty. That’s why I’m excited to introduce this bill with Representative Posey so we can help the United States access new supplies of critical rare metals while serving as a launch pad for a growing industry.”

Currently, rare minerals used to manufacture a wide range of products are found in a small number of countries. This has left the United States dependent on foreign nations for these resources. The limited supply and high demand for these materials, alongside major advances in space technology and a deeper understanding of asteroids, has led a number of private sector investors to begin developing plans to identify and secure high-value minerals found on asteroids and transport them for use here on Earth.

Some rare minerals that could be found within asteroids include: platinum group metals such as platinum, osmium, iridium, ruthenium, rhodium, and palladium in addition to nickel, iron and cobalt.

Posey and Kilmer’s bill would:

  •  Clarify that resources mined from an asteroid are the property of the entity that obtained them.
  • Ensure U.S. companies can conduct their operation without harmful interference
  • Direct the President to facilitate commercial development of asteroid resources.

– See more at: http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/07/11/asteroids-act-establish-space-property-rights/#sthash.p6iLiY2e.dpuf

Schematic view of asteroid (25143) Itokawa. (Credit: ESO) – See more at: http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/07/11/asteroids-act-establish-space-property-rights/#sthash.p6iLiY2e.dpufProving that there is some vision in Congress after all, U.S. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) have introduced introduced the American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities in Deep Space (ASTEROIDS) Act of 2014, which “establishes and protects property rights for commercial space exploration and utilization of asteroid resources.”

Proving that there is some vision in Congress after all, U.S. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) have introduced introduced the American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities in Deep Space (ASTEROIDS) Act of 2014, which “establishes and protects property rights for commercial space exploration and utilization of asteroid resources.”

Now, if they can only get a budget passed by the end of the fiscal year, Congress could demonstrate vision and basic competence at governance, something it hasn’t achieved in many years. (It’s looking like another continuing resolution for NASA.)

But, I digress.
You will note that Kilmer is from Washington state, which is home to….wait for it…. Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company backed by all those billionaires. Coincidence? I think not.

Economie-EspaceA press release from Posey follows:
Asteroids are excellent potential sources of highly valuable resources and minerals,” said Rep. Bill Posey, a Member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. “Our knowledge of asteroids – their number, location, and composition – has been increasing at a tremendous rate and space technology has advanced to the point where the private sector is now able to begin planning such expeditions. Our legislation will help promote private exploration and protect commercial rights as these endeavors move forward and I thank Representative Kilmer for working with me to help advance this industry.”
“We may be many years away from successfully mining an asteroid, but the research to turn this from science fiction into reality is being done today,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer, a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. “Businesses in Washington state and elsewhere are investing in this opportunity, but in order to grow and create more jobs they need greater certainty. That’s why I’m excited to introduce this bill with Representative Posey so we can help the United States access new supplies of critical rare metals while serving as a launch pad for a growing industry.”

Currently, rare minerals used to manufacture a wide range of products are found in a small number of countries. This has left the United States dependent on foreign nations for these resources. The limited supply and high demand for these materials, alongside major advances in space technology and a deeper understanding of asteroids, has led a number of private sector investors to begin developing plans to identify and secure high-value minerals found on asteroids and transport them for use here on Earth.

Some rare minerals that could be found within asteroids include: platinum group metals such as platinum, osmium, iridium, ruthenium, rhodium, and palladium in addition to nickel, iron and cobalt.
Posey and Kilmer’s bill would:
• Clarify that resources mined from an asteroid are the property of the entity that obtained them.
• Ensure U.S. companies can conduct their operation without harmful interference
• Direct the President to facilitate commercial development of asteroid resources.

Planetary Resources will mine Asteroids for Water and Platinum

It’s not a joke: James Cameron, Eric Schmidt, Larry Page and some investors want to mine asteroids through a company called Planetary Resources. This team of wealthy billionaires wants to extract gold and platinum from these asteroids.

The Trillion Dollar Market: Fuel in Space from Asteroids

Have you ever wondered why the space economy hasn’t grown with Moore’s Law like high-tech industries on Earth?

Well in space one resource above all others is extraordinarily expensive and without cheap access to it, growth is limited…FUEL.  The catalyst for rapid expansion into every frontier in history has been access to cheap, local resources.  And in space, access to rocket fuel is currently neither cheap, nor local.

But on asteroids, abundant quantities of hydrogen and oxygen can be used to create rocket fuel, the same stuff used by the Space Shuttle. This allows companies like Vivisat fuel spacetugs that will be used to keep satellites in their Geostationary slots, or fuel up your spacecraft before zooming off to Mars. The possibilities are endless!

Learn about the possibilities of this booming new space economy in our new video about the Market for Fuel in Space…

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Resources:

Space colonization

(ASTEROIDS) Act of 2014Space Politics

Bipartisan Legislation Promotes Commercial Space Ventures

Read the proposed US ASTEROIDS Act to green-light

H.R.5063 – 113th Congress (2013-2014): ASTEROIDS Act

US proposed law: ASTEROIDS Act of 2014 – Science Discussi

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