Road to mining asteroids

Planetary Resource’s Chris Lewicki on what we can expect to see in the future.

2013-2019

“The first activities of Planetary Resources actually start in space next year with early demonstrations of some of our commercial technologies to dramatically reduce the cost of this. In about two years’ time we will be putting in orbit around the Earth space telescopes which we can use to discover, characterise and monitor potential asteroid targets that we will then go out and explore in more detail up close.”

2020-2029

“By 2020 I really see us having several spacecraft missions out to a number of targeted asteroids of interest. Some of these are asteroids that are already known today, we have a top 20 list of favourites that we have. Within the first few years of the 2020s we’ll be touching down on the surface of the first asteroid and starting to extract the first small amounts of water from some of these asteroids.”

2030-2039

“By 2030 the first operations on asteroids will begin. The rate that technology is advancing is itself accelerating and we’re doing all of our exploration with robotic spacecraft using highly autonomous systems and the latest in remote sensing capability. This is really where I see the opportunity for this activity to be done commercially, privately and in pursuit of a new industry like space resources.”

2040-2049

“We will have a number of different players all getting involved in this activity, but there are different parts of this entire economy that involve people. Depots will receive water and provide it to customers to refuel their satellites, we will have the space tourism industry, and more.”

2050-2059

“I think by 2050 we’ll be well beyond just finding asteroids. We’ll be on the surface of the Moon, we’ll have colonies and habitats on the surface of Mars, and we’ll really be able not only to develop resources of the asteroids but resources of the rest of space and we’ll look back through in time just as we do with aviation today and wonder how the world got along before that happened.”

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