Space mining is growing in popularity and planning because it is the best method for continuing Earth’s expansion into space, and future colonization in space. While this may sound like science fiction, many companies are beginning to plan their ventures into space, and fine-tune the details of how space mining would work. Humans are drawn to the unknown, and are ever expanding into the new and unknown, and space is the ultimate final frontier of adventure and exploration. By expanding into space, we can expand our own knowledge. Another, more tangible reason for space mining, is it will provide the basis for colonization of space. As the earth continues to overpopulate, the need for more room for humans will continue to grow.
Asteroid mining may be able to provide the necessary materials for expanding into space without requiring the lengthy shuttle journey to bring new supplies. It is believed that there could possibly trillions of dollars worth of minerals and metals on asteroids located around the Earth.
What could Asteroids contain?
Many scientists believe that asteroids are made from the leftover materials from the formation of the solar system, or from the destruction of planets and other large entities in space. There are three main types of asteroids, c-types, s-types, and m-types. C-types make up 75% of all asteroids, and are similar to the composition of the sun, but without the hydrogen, helium, and other volatile materials. S-type asteroids make up about 17% of asteroids, and contain nickel, iron, and magnesium. M-type asteroids are the final type, and are the smallest group of asteroids. They contain nickel and iron. Beyond these materials, scientists believe that asteroids contain gold, water, oxygen, and platinum. Water and oxygen are important to scientists, because they may be able to form the basis for easier colonization of the moon, and possible asteroid mining expeditions. Gold and platinum are both valuable metals on Earth, and would be gladly mined and used on Earth.
How to sustain Space Mining?
Space mining will be one of the most complex and complicated expeditions to plan and complete because of the unique physics in space versus the Earth. The machines working the asteroid mines would be more than likely solar powered so as to reduce reliance on fuel. The machinery would also probably be lightweight in order to be easily transported from the Earth to the asteroid in question. It is also believed that many companies would opt for robotic equipment, which would limit the need for human personnel on the asteroid manning equipment. By limiting the amount of human personnel, the amount of food, clothing, and oxygen supplies will also be greatly reduced, as there will be no one to supply. Mining companies would probably use the same strip-mining techniques that they use on Earth in order to excavate the materials. Because asteroids do not have any gravity, the machinery must be anchored down into the asteroid to keep them in place without having them fly away.