Even with iron ore prices diving, NASA fast tracks mission to $10,000 quadrillion asteroid
While many still see space mining as science fiction, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is fast tracking its planned mission to 16 Psyche — an iron ore and nickel rich asteroid, worth roughly $10,000 quadrillion.
To put that value into perspective, the targeted celestial body’s estimated value is more than the combined economy of our entire planet, guessed at $78 trillion, multiplied by a thousand.
You don’t need to be a mathematician or a financial expert to realize that bringing that amount of minerals back to our planet would collapse the Earth’s economy.
And if you follow the mining sector’s news, then you know the market wouldn’t benefit from yet more iron ore supply.
Fortunately, NASA is only planning to explore 16 Psyche, not mine it. Al least for now. What the agency has done, however, is to move forward the launch date to 2022 from 2013, Science Alert reports.
While a year is nothing in terms of space missions, the team behind the project has devised a plan to make the journey to the asteroid more efficient, which slashes four years from the original travel time.
If the mission to 16 Psyche — one of the most massive asteroids found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter — is successful, then humans will have a first ever chance of exploring a world made of iron, not rock or ice.
Geologists believe all 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.
Not only private companies are planning to mine celestial bodies, but governments are increasingly joining the race too. In 2015, ex US President Barack Obama signed a law that grants American citizens rights to own resources mined in space. Shortly after, Luxembourg inked a deal with two US space research companies, in an effort to become a global centre for asteroid mining.