A Canadian company has inked a $700,000 contract with the country’s Space Agency (CSA) contract to develop a multi-purpose device designed for space mining.
Northern Ontario-based Deltion Innovations Ltd will work on the combination drill and rotary multi-use tool, or what the firm describes as a “space-age Swiss Army knife”.
The project, part of the CSA’s space technology development program, has been given the acronym “PROMPT” (Percussive and Rotary Multi-Purpose Tool), Canadian Press reports.
The tool, which would be installed on the end of a robotic arm, is designed to drill into rock and other materials to capture a variety of samples.
One of the device’s main goals is to be able to drill mine for water and ice on the moon, and potentially other celestial bodies. It would also be used in robotic construction, maintenance and repair tasks.
Testing will be conducted at the company’s test facility in Capreol.
After being considered mostly a science-fiction tale, governments are now rushing to implement programs and legislations that allow them join the race for mining in the space.
In November, President Barack Obama signed a law that grants US citizens rights to own resources mined in space. The ground-breaking rule was touted as a major boost to asteroid mining because it encourages the commercial exploration and utilization of resources from asteroids obtained by US firms.
And in February, Luxembourg launched an official initiative to promote the mining of asteroids for minerals. The tiny European country, which has been studying possible involvement in the sector since 2013, aims to become Europe’s centre for space mining.
Geologists as well as emerging companies, such as US-based Planetary Resources, a firm pioneering the space mining industry, believe asteroids are packed with iron ore, nickel and precious metals at much higher concentrations than those found on Earth, making up a market valued in the trillions of dollars.