An asteroid mining startup called AstroForge is preparing to launch two missions into space as early as April this year. This will be the first attempt to extract valuable resources from space rocks. The spacecraft will be launched by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The company’s intentions are reported by Bloomberg.
AstroForge also clarifies that during the first mission it is not planned to land on an asteroid and start mining fossils. In turn, the mission will include testing ways to purify platinum from asteroid materials in space.
Subsequently, in October, the California company will try to launch a second mission to search for the corresponding asteroid to start potential mining. The overall goal is to reduce the exorbitant costs that are spent to mine platinum group metals on Earth. According to the plan, it will be much cheaper to deliver valuable metal from space.
For this, AstroForge wants to use the lunar lander of the space startup Intuitive Machines, which will head to the orbit of the Moon. Once there, the 100-kilogram AstroForge spacecraft will continue to search for a suitable asteroid for future mining.
Despite the fact that launching rockets is an environmentally harmful process in itself, the company hopes to reduce the amount of emissions released by mining rare earth elements on Earth.
“We will clean the metal on site from the asteroid itself. That is, we get metal cleaned of waste, which will be much safer for the environment,” CEO Matthew Gialich explained to Bloomberg.
Of course, this is an exciting prospect. But several previous asteroid mining startups were unable to finance the sending of their spacecraft into space. Therefore, AstroForge faces a serious problem: do they have enough funding? It is important to note that the launch of SpaceX is significantly cheaper than the services of state space agencies.
After all, AstroForge wants to land on an explored asteroid and return the refined metals back to Earth, and this is an extremely difficult mission that will require perfect coordination of many things to go right the first time.
If AstroForge succeeds, the company will become the second after SpaceX to send a commercial space mission beyond the influence of Earth’s gravity. The first, we remembered, was the launch of the Tesla Roadster into space to the orbit of Mars.
Earlier we reported how NASA found an additional target for the Lucy mission.
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