Trillion dollar market: fuel in space from asteroids
Planetary Resources Inc. announced in 2012 its plans to become the world's first asteroid mining company. Since then, it has made progress in developing a series of prospecting telescopes, while attracting investors and other interested parties. This includes a successful crowdfunding campaign last year. The company hopes to begin actual mining missions in the next 10-15 years.
In this video, Chris Lewicki explains how the utilisation of space resources could evolve into a trillion dollar industry – potentially easing concerns over scarcity of metals and minerals on Earth, while doing so in an environmentally sustainable manner. Key to this growth will be providing locally sourced hydrogen and oxygen, to literally and figuratively fuel expansion of the economy and transform how companies operate in space.
While existing satellites cannot be refuelled directly today, space tugs fuelled by asteroids are currently being developed that will manoeuvre geostationary satellites into their assigned orbit. Thus, keeping them operating and generating revenue far beyond their current life expectancy.
Water from asteroids can also be used for a plethora of other applications beyond fuels in space. It can be consumed, used as a radiation shield for humans in deep space expeditions to Mars, and aid in many processes tied to mining metals off asteroids.
As shown in the graph below, Planetary Resources believes that solar power beamed directly from space will be achievable by the early 2040s and over a million tons of fuel could be produced annually in space by the 2050s.