Space adventures have always been interesting stories. When we talk about colonizing Mars or discuss black holes or the possibilities of new planets, our imagination reaches a whole new level. But, we humans, are slowly and steadily making progress towards all of these (and a lot more!). Asteroid mining is one of them.
On June 3, tiny European nation Luxembourg announced its plans to invest $223 million in the very nascent asteroid mining industry. Asteroid mining is an operation where an asteroid is exploited for rare minerals which can then be used in space for in-situ utilization or be brought back to earth.
Given that space activities are generally very expensive, Luxembourg’s economy minister Etienne Schneider said,
We have a first budget to get started but if we need more money, we will be able to provide it.
A couple of companies, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, have been making some success in the industry, however, a first reconnaissance mission for rare minerals in space is expected to take place by 2020.
In February, Luxembourg announced plans for a law that would make it the first state in Europe to give legal clarity to the commercial exploitation of asteroids. The nation has high ambitions for the asteroid mining venture and wants to create another thriving industry apart from its profound investment banking.
Luxembourg’s aim is to be in the top 10 space-faring nations in the world.
The nations and the companies involved in asteroid mining also hope to fuel their extremely distant space missions by producing fuel from the exploited minerals in space. This is expected to be cost-effective, however, no details are available regarding this.
Space mining comes under the ambit of international law, and therefore, mining will be carried out for the benefit of all countries. But, will it?