AstroForge loses asteroid mining spacecraft

AstroForge startup, which specializes in mining asteroids, this week anxiously reported that it had encountered the first difficulties during its first mission. After the launch of the test spacecraft, the company had control problems. This threatened to lose the ability to send commands to the spacecraft in orbit.

Illustration of mining on an asteroid in the imagination of the AstroForge startup

AstroForge, based in California, plans to start mining platinum on asteroids and further processing the materials in space before returning them to Earth for sale. However, their Brokkr-1 satellite demonstration mission ran into a problem immediately after the launch on April 15 aboard a SpaceX Transporter-7 rocket.

The company was unable to identify its satellite among the 50 other spacecraft that were part of the joint SpaceX mission. The problems arose due to a malfunction during the deployment of the solar panel array, as the magnetic field of the refining system created obstacles to the satellite’s orientation system.

Artist’s impressions of the mining of resources from an asteroid in the distant future. Illustration: SciTechDaily

AstroForge claimed that they discovered this problem just before launch but decided to continue the mission at the risk of losing contact. Now the company has about three months left to rectify the situation and demonstrate the technology before completely losing the ability to send commands.

AstroForge’s second attempt in 2024

The startup is now preparing for its second mission, which is scheduled for 2024. Next year, it is planned to fly the spacecraft past the asteroid and photograph its surface in high resolution.

For startups like AstroForge, mining on asteroids has the potential to generate huge profits. Of course, if they can find a reliable way to extract precious resources that are hard to find on Earth. For example, platinum costs about USD 1,000 per troy pound (31.1 grams).

Earlier, we explained about the prospects for mining resources on asteroids.

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