Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Gold in Them Thar ...
In the last year, we've seen two commercial ventures announce different plans to harvest the material bounty of the solar system by mining asteroids. So are we at the foothills of a post-scarcity economy or are people blowing a lot of hot air on the latest fad du jour?
In April, Planetary Resources announced a scheme to fire off water and platinum mining equipment onto Near Earth Objects (NEO), after first sending out a series of smaller telescopes to find suitable candidates for mining. The first of these Arkyd Series 100 spacecraft should be in orbit by 2014, with probes to land on asteroids launching by 2016, and the first mining robots in place by 2022.
.....Little mention was made of what the cargo might do to metals markets.
At the time, this El Reg hack expressed the view that the timescale that Planetary Ventures had set was overly ambitions, but on Tuesday Deep Space Industries (DSI) came up with a slightly different business plan that the company claims will have it returning materials to orbit within the next few years.
This is starting to feel like the start of the dotcom boom. Whjile that boom did also turn into a bust, as is normal with business cycles, the bust was a lot smaller than the boom and a lot of the world's major companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook etc etc) came about then.
And obviously the boom in space is going to, largely, involve tangible products and there is no clear place, once we have done the big step to orbit, where it will stop.