International news within the industry of mining and metal, Oct, 19 2018
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Mining in space can soon become reality

The surface of Mars, but what waits for us beneath it? Photo: Creative Commons, credit: Wikimages
The surface of Mars, but what waits for us beneath it? Photo: Creative Commons, credit: Wikimages
Published by
Markku Björkman - 12 Jun 2018

The imminent trend of colonizing space requires resources beyond the capacity of the earth. Commercial mining in space can be as close as 10-15 years away, predicts Professor Reza Emami in space engineering at the Luleå University of Technology in Sweden.

It is a mass industry, literally speaking about astronomical sums. The US Space Agency Nasa claims that the value of the minerals contained in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars is comparing with the irrevocable amount of $ 870 billion for each person on earth, CNBC reports.

Ongoing research, however, mainly looks at the possibilities of breaking deposits from asteroids, which are stretched out of the great asteroid belt millions of years ago and now circulate in paths nearby the Earth. Because they are small, with a circumference of 50 - 140 meters, it is difficult to detect them with ground-based telescopes. In April last year, 28 small cube satellites were sent - of which Sweden contributed one - to uncover the potential tax for 18 months.

"So far, 18 000 asteroids have been located, but researchers estimate there may be more than 100 million," Reza Emami told to Swedish news agency TT.

Subsequent legislation

The promise of clipping at the checkout has made several companies, most of them based in the United States, investing in future mining. However, there are still difficulties in persuading actors to invest in projects that span 20 years in the future, both due to the time aspect itself, but also because of uncertainty about possible future regulations.

Because while space technology evolves quickly, the law is lagging behind - the most comprehensive legislation is the 1967 Space Treaty, but with regard to the use of space resources, this is quite vague and can be interpreted in several directions.

"Application is being made by national authorities, but a specialized space authority is not yet available," said Ian Christensen, head of the Secure World Foundation think-tank, to CNBC.

Sinful resources

But, in the near future, short-term deposits will be established in space, according to Reza Emami.

- Precious earthly resources are about to end and we need to find new sources in the universe because we do not want to completely eradicate the earth, he says.

Emami also points out that the development is extremely resource-intensive.

"We need to find ways to cope with life in space - it's about fuel and oxygen, to say it easily. To do that, we must take material from space, we can not take it from the ground.

He adds that there are also purely research incentives to continue exploring the earthy asteroids.

- Every researcher in the field is curious about these asteroids, especially since we've seen how many we have just around the corner.