Moon and Asteroid Mining

In an earlier post, we highlighted mining companies exploring the depths of the ocean for metals and minerals. In today’s guest post, Emerson’s Dan Nower, a member of the machinery health and metals and mining industry team shares the efforts of some to explore the moon and asteroids for the precious metals.

Dan NowerMining on the Moon…I know this sounds a little crazy but my parents always encouraged me to dream big. A few years ago, the idea of ‘off-earth’ mining would be considered crazy, science fiction. But looking at the recent advances in robotics and automation (as discussed by Dr. Greg Baiden at the 2011 Safety and Reliability in Mining Resources conference) it appears to be reality, at least the mining of asteroids.

Earth's Moon

Source: Gregory H. Revera http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ File:FullMoon2010.jpg

So much so, that there are currently investors, large name investors, who are gambling that off-earth will be the next mining rush, or ‘Space Rush’ as they call it. Those big names include “Titanic” movie director James Cameron and Larry Page, Google’s CEO.

Asteroid

Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:243_ida.jpg

But is it cost feasible? Even at the current gold and platinum rates hovering around $1500 per ounce, a lot of high quality ore would have to be generated to justify launching a spaceship. That said, Planetary Resources Incorporated, the name of the new company, is moving forward.

The ultimate plan is to mine, process fuel, and refuel spaceships to bring product back to earth all without the use of humans. This does not appear to be a pipe dream for they already have plans in place to launch the first in a series of private telescopes that will search for mineral rich asteroid targets within in two years.

As Victor Hugo said in 1852, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”. For this reason, I truly think this is something to keep our eyes on. Planetary Resources will have many necessities that will lead to inventions that will change our lives similar to what happened when President John F. Kennedy challenged the people of the U.S. to go to the moon before the decade of the 1960s was complete.

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