Asteroid mining is the concept of extracting valuable minerals and resources from asteroids and other celestial bodies, which could provide a new source of rare metals and other materials for human civilization.
If successful, asteroid mining could provide a source of valuable resources, such as water and metals, that could be used to support space exploration and settlement, as well as provide a new source of rare and valuable metals on Earth. Additionally, asteroid mining could provide an economic incentive for the development of space technology and could spur the growth of a new industry.
The possibility of having asteroid mining become a viable industry in the near future depends on a variety of factors, including the development of technologies for prospecting, extraction, and processing of asteroid resources, as well as the establishment of a regulatory framework for the industry. While there are still significant challenges to be overcome, the progress being made by countries and private companies in the development of asteroid mining technology is encouraging, and it is possible that we could see the first commercial asteroid mining missions within the next decade.
• NASA has continued to explore the potential of asteroid mining and has conducted missions such as the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which returned samples from the asteroid Bennu in 2020. Additionally, private companies such as Planetary Resources, Deep Space Industries, and Asteroid Mining Corporation have been developing asteroid mining technology, including prospecting methods, extraction techniques, and spacecraft design.
• Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully landed the spacecraft Hayabusa2 on the asteroid Ryugu in 2019 and returned samples to Earth in December 2020. JAXA is also planning a mission to explore the asteroid Phaethon in 2024.
• The Luxembourg Space Agency has been investing in several asteroid mining companies and has established partnerships with companies such as ispace Europe and Kleos Space to develop technology for space resource utilization.
• China National Space Administration (CNSA) is planning a mission to explore and mine asteroids in the near future. In 2020, CNSA successfully launched its first Mars mission, which included a demonstration of technology for asteroid sample return.