CEO Mitch Hunter-Scullion, who founded the company in March 2016, aims to advance the Third Industrial Revolution with asteroid mining. He considers the project as the “single greatest economic opportunity in human history.”
In particular, Hunter-Scullion’s team will target Asteroid 1986 DA. Previous research found that the asteroid created echoes that were significantly more reflective than other radar-detected asteroids, proving that it is rich in iron-nickel metal that was derived from the melting of a larger object after a catastrophic collision.
Boundless economic potential in space mining
According to Hunter-Scullion, his team was scouting for the most valuable asteroid, as well as the most viable one. What particularly came up in their investigation is Asteroid 1986 DA, which experts believe came from a parent iron meteor.
The smooth-looking asteroid is extremely irregular at scales between 10 and 100 meters and is about two kilometers in diameter. Hunter-Scullion estimated that for something of its size, Asteroid 1986 DA is worth around 12 to 13 trillion dollars.
“An asteroid with a one km diameter and in the upper 90th percentile for platinum composition would essentially be something like nine or 10 trillion pounds,” he explained.
At an earlier lecture at the University of Oxford, Hunter-Scullion said Earth’s resources are limited but society’s demand is limitless. He added that extraterrestrial resources will allow for centuries of sustainable growth. Asteroids, for one, are described as “flying gold mines” because of the great amounts of valuable metals that can be found in them. And there are countless similar asteroids in space which can be mined, continued Hunter-Scullion.
In fact, the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) estimated that the space mining industry could generate up to 700 quintillion dollars in revenue.
Countries gear up for the upcoming space industry boom
The space industry is bound to get even bigger, with more and more countries announcing plans to explore the commercial potential of space.
A 2019 study from the Allied Market Research found that the asteroid mining market could reach as much as $4 trillion by 2025 after various private and government bodies announced space missions in the future.
Meanwhile, a report from the research company MarketsandMarkets predicted that companies will target Type-C asteroids first. These coal-black asteroids contain large amounts of metal and water, which can be used by a spacecraft upon landing. The first mission to a Type-C asteroid is already set to launch in 2022, with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Destiny venturing for the asteroid Phaethon.
Still, the United States is expected to be the industry leader. In 2015, the US government passed a new law that will allow private companies to participate in space mining. Called the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act of 2015, the law “explicitly allows US citizens to engage in the commercial exploration and exploitation of space resources, such as water and minerals,” according to the report by MarketsandMarkets.
Currently, however, Luxembourg is leading the race for space mining. It previously granted $223 million of its space budget to companies that are involved in space mining projects. Reports also said that the European country funded American company Deep Space Industries and invested $28 million in Planetary Resources, another private company in the US involved in space mining. (Related: The great outer space LAND GRAB of the near future: Conflicts over space rock mining rights.)
In 2017, it passed its own space law, the Law of 20 July 2017 on the Exploration and Use of Space Resources.
Luuxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Etienne Schneider said, “Our goal is to put into place an overall framework for the exploration and commercial use of resources from ‘celestial bodies’ such as asteroids, or from the moon.”