Thursday, April 4, 2013
D is for Deep Space Industries
<a href="http://deepspaceindustries.com/" title="link title" target="link target">Deep Space Industries</a>, a newly formed company, announced plans to launch the world's first fleet of asteroid-hunting spacecraft to search for space rocks that can be harvested for precious metals such as platinum and other resources. The one-way prospecting trips will begin in 2015, using three laptop-size spacecraft called FireFlies, each weighing about 55 pounds, that will take pictures and samples from selected Near-Earth asteroids. Beginning in 2016, larger spacecraft known as DragonFlies, weighing 70 lbs, will be sent on three- to four-year round trip missions to dig samples from asteroids and return them to Earth. The company estimates that 1 ton of asteroid material would be worth $1 million in orbit.
The samples will be studied and tested to make sure they can be converted into valuable materials. By 2020, Deep Space hopes to get into commercial operation and begin producing materials to be used first in space. For example, water harvested from asteroids can be broken down to make rocket fuel to power communication satellites. Low-cost asteroid-derived fuel will extend the working lifetime of these technologies. For each satellite, one extra month is worth $5 million to $8 million.
Deep Space will also rely on a 3D printer called the Microgravity Foundry to help manufacture metal parts in space from pure asteroid.
<a href="http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/01/deep-space-industries-to-use-3d-printer-to-convert-asteroids-into-valuable-metals.html " title="link title" target="link target">Reference</a>