This Friday the asteroid 2012 DA14, the largest ever known asteroid to make a close approach to the Earth, will pass just 17,200 miles (for two objects in space that is very close) form the planet’s surface. Asteroid 2012 DA14 is 45 metres wide and has been estimated by space mining company Deep Space Industries to be worth nearly $200 billion, in terms of the metals and water that it contains.
Deep Space Industries have estimated that it contains $65 billion of recoverable water, and $130 billion in metals such as iron and nickel. Whilst the projector of this particular asteroid is too highly tilted relative to the Earth to make a retrieval attempt, it perfectly illustrates the wealth of resources that can be mined from space.
Related article: Why EROEI Means Mining in Space will Never Work
Rick Tumlinson, the chairman of Deep Space, stated that, “while this week's visitor isn't going the right way for us to harvest it, there will be others that are, and we want to be ready when they arrive.”
The company’s plans are to mine asteroids in space for the water which can be used to create rocket fuel, enabling space ships to be refuelled cheaply and efficiently, and the metals which can be used to construct infrastructure, and allow for an industry that builds space vessels, and human habitats in space. Deep Space believe that this is the only way that humanity will be able to expand into the space in the future.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com