Asteroid Mining

Asteroid Mining (Eng. about asteroid mining ) denotes concepts for reduction process of raw materials in space.


Asteroids, comets and meteoroids, very high concentrations, inter alia, of precious metal or rare earth metals have, who may in the future for the extraction of raw materials important. M- asteroids such as an object in the main belt, the asteroid (16 ) Psyche and more like ( 129) Antigone (97 ) Klotho (21 ) Lutetia, (55 ) Pandora ( 755 ) Quintilla are very metal rich. ( 3554 ) Amon e.g. having a high content of metals of the iron-platinum Group as well as many non-metallic elements such as nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus. Depending on the nature and density of a 1- km object could have to meet the current demand for industrial metals for decades.

Spectroscopic studies of S- asteroids such as ( 387) and Aquitania (980 ) Anacostia leave on minerals from pyroxene, olivine and spinel or chromite also close. Radar measurements of the Astronomical observatories Arecibo and Goldstone of E- class asteroids (44 ) Nysa show presence of enstatite, forsterite and pyroxene. Similarly, the Earth's orbit cruiser ( 3103 ) Eger seems to consist of these components

Also V- asteroids can for the space mining mineable deposits aufweisen.Wasser and ice was also detected on asteroids and other celestial bodies. Terrestrial ores, as they occur in the Bushveld complex, have a platinum metal concentration of 10 ppm, meteoritic findings show concentrations of 100 ppm. Known of the more than 5000 (2012 ) terrestrial minerals found about 300 in meteorites.

The vast majority of meteorites, and thus probably also that of the asteroids are chondrites. These stone meteorites may also contain up to 20% metals, if that could apply to some asteroids of this size also has not been established until now.


Concepts include future manned space missions, but most of all unmanned missions that detect any occurrence using robots and automated degrade. Also, sample return missions are planned. In September 2011, the Keck Institute for Space Studies at Caltech began with a feasibility study, the Asteroid Retrieval Mission Study. In early April 2012, the final report was veröffentlicht.In the feasibility study and needs to be evaluated and explored, which would be necessary to find a suitable NEA to capture by means of robotics and to bring the object for further study and use in perigee.

In the Advanced Space Transportation Program, an R & D program of NASA, are advanced space systems and engine technologies developed for, inter alia, the asteroid mining. Under another program, explore NASA and the company Caterpillar future mining technologies that could be used on the Earth's moon.

In future long-term and Interstellar space missions extraterrestrial resources for the production of various materials and fuels could be used. But the term was coined in situ Resource Utilization and Extraterrestrial Resource Utilization (Eng. about aliens resource utilization ). The Glenn Research Center conducts research on concepts to make helium-3 and hydrogen directly from atmospheres of planets for space marine propulsion used in situ, this is called Atmospheric Mining. Also, Von Neumann probes these extraterrestrial sources of raw materials could use. Traces of mining activities ( targeted asteroid mining) on other celestial bodies could provide clues to technological activities for SETI.

On April 24, 2012 stated in a press conference at the Museum of Flight (Seattle ) a group of investors led by Peter Diamandis, Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, James Cameron, Charles Simonyi and others, the establishment of the company Planetary Resources known. A business objective is the detection of suitable near-Earth asteroids by space telescopes and later automated prospecting, exploration and mining of mineral resources, such as Osmium, iridium, platinum, palladium, and water by robotic probes. Representative of conventional mining companies expressed their cautious about the plans of Planetary Resources, were also concerns about the potential impact on the commodity markets loud. 2013 verlautbarte Planetary Resources cooperation with Bechtel Corporation.

In July 2012, the Advanced Concepts Team of ESA a colloquium on Asteroid Mining held at ESTEC. NASA NIAC announced in September 2012 the project RAP ( Robotic Asteroid Prospector ), in which opportunities and technical system requirements for future asteroid mining missions are examined.

In January 2013, the US-based Deep Space Industries announced plans for asteroid mining and announced first exploration missions for 2015.

On April 5, the U.S. Senator and former astronaut Bill Nelson announced a 104 million USD project of NASA, the New Asteroid initiative. The plan is to find a suitable and 2019, small asteroids, capture by robot probes and to bring the object into a lunar orbit. By 2021 manned landing missions with the Space Launch System and Orion are provided on the asteroid to test techniques and technologies required for future projects.

Researchers classified a group of initially twelve smaller objects as EROs ( Easily Retrievable Objects). This near-Earth asteroid, such as 2006 RH120, 2010 VQ98, 2007 UN12 and others (as of 2013) could be achieved due to their orbital data with currently available technologies and system could be brought into the vicinity of the Earth-Sun L1/L2. Astrophysicist Martin Elvis adapted the Drake equation to first estimates on the possible number of suitable objects to make and publish in early 2014 first conservative results.

In November 2013 Robert Bigelow, the Federal Aviation Administration called on the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 to amend to allow future ownership and use rights for mining on the moon.

Other Resources

In moons there are natural resources from which, for example, ores could be obtained. On the Earth's moon is, inter alia, titanium, helium and KREEP available. With the lunar probe Clementine lunar titanium concentrations were mapped. In lunar basalt from Mare Basin, the mineral ilmenite occurs and can contain 15 to 20 percent titanium. Rock samples brought back by Apollo 17, contained up to 30 % titanium. The lunar crust consists largely of anorthosite. In the highlands is Troktolith and Norit find. A more detailed exploration and mineral mapping was planned with the spectrometer Moon Mineralogy Maper the Chandrayaan -1 probe.


The Space Law deals with the legal aspects of space mining.

In science fiction literature found the utilization of asteroids early use, for the first time in 1898 in the novel Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss.

Pictures of Asteroid Mining