Mining in space took a step closer this week, following the successful launch of a satellite designed to demonstrate the technology for space mining in action.
Planetary Resources, a technology developer with the vision of establishing a new paradigm for resource utilisation connecting the solar system with “humanity’s economic sphere of influence”, successfully launched its Arkyd-6, a 6U CubeSat.
The 6U CubeSat contains a demonstration of technology designed to detect water resources in space and will be a valuable development in the company’s space resource exploration program.
“The success of the Arykd-6 will validate and inform the design and engineering philosophies we have embraced since the beginning of this innovative project,” said Chris Lewicki, President and CEO, Planetary Resources. “We will continue to employ these methods through the development of the Arkyd-301 and beyond as we progress toward our Space Resource Exploration Mission,” said Chris Voorhees, Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources.
Planetary Resources plans to create the first commercial mine in space that can harvest water for use in space. It identifies this mining for water as the first step to creating a civilisation in space.
The initial mission will identify the asteroids that contain the best source of water, and will simultaneously provide the vital information needed to build the mine.
In 2020, Planetary Resources will deploy multiple spacecraft via a single rocket launch. The rocket will carry the exploration spacecraft just beyond the influence of Earth’s gravity where they will continue their journey using low-thrust ion propulsion systems. Each spacecraft will visit a pre-determined target asteroid to collect data and test material samples.
The company is not the first with its eyes on the stars, with Deep Space Industries and iSpace both rapidly developing technology to extract resources from near space.
In July 2017, Luxembourg took major steps towards making space mining a reality with the passing of a space mining law, paving the way for companies like Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources.
The law recognises the right to space-based resources that companies have extracted, with the ownership of said resources remaining in the hands of these companies.