Neither stock exchange securities, nor the most famous franchises on the market. The same applies to investing in real estate or participating in developments in the field of artificial intelligence. Now the business that expects higher profits is off planet. Link to space mining, which is still in diapersalthough this is extremely promising.

In short, this extraction of resources from celestial bodies such as asteroids, comets, planets or distant moons. As with mining, the goal is to obtain valuable materials, including minerals and precious metals. How big is the promise? As we will see later, a fortune of approximately $10,000 trillion has been discovered in one space object thanks to its reserves of gold, nickel and iron.

In this review we will talk in detail about That space mining with its lights and shadows. It turns out that not all rose color when we take a closer look at this activity. While big profits are on the horizon, there are technical, legal and ethical issues to consider. Meanwhile, government and private agencies are accelerating the process of resolving these conflicts and harnessing the vast resources of the solar system. And further, if possible.

Space mining will surpass ground-based mining in profitability

Researchers estimate that asteroid mining will become standard and profitable within 30 to 40 years. (Photo: NASA)

An example is a study recently published by researchers from the Colorado School of Mines in the United States. It mentions the variables that will determine the relevance of space mining in the coming decades. In this sense, they say that it will surpass its land-based counterpart in profitability within 30–40 years.

One of the key points is growth need for materials used in electronic devices and electric vehicles, especially for the production of batteries such as nickel and cobalt. They are also needed for solar panels and wind turbines. Demand for these resources is expected to increase. According to the International Energy Agency, demand for cobalt will increase sixfold between now and 2050.

On the other hand, it is indicated that space travel is becoming less expensive and that this will facilitate the extraction of minerals from asteroids and other bodies floating in space. Thus, the entry of private companies into this sector, such as SpaceX and Blue Origin, to name a couple of examples, has led to dramatic reductions in payload launch costs through the use of reusable rockets.

penchant for clean energy This is also a factor that will benefit space mining, experts say in the above-mentioned study. “These activities will potentially contribute to sustainable growth on Earth,” they note. If resource extraction on celestial bodies expands, the benefits to our planet will double. On the one hand, the availability of more materials, which, among other things, will serve to replace fossil fuels. On the other hand, it is desirable to reduce the harmful effects of mining on the environment. However, we will explain below that not everything is profit.

Mining and pollution: is it better to do it in space?

What is the environmental impact of rocket launches into space? (Photo: Unsplash)

While various companies are proposing to mine nickel, cobalt and platinum from the seabed; It goes without saying that some celestial bodies have more such resources than on Earth. In addition, these floating sights They have no fauna that could be affected by prey. So, Asteroid mining a priori avoids environmental damage which are typical of the activities carried out here in the open air.

According to a report by the Latin American Economic Observatory, mining produces large emissions of toxic materials, fine particles and polluting gases. In addition, the soil is degraded and threatens the survival of the biota that maintains the balance of ecosystems. Evil does not culminate in the environmental variable. “The most visible social risks are related to health and human capital,” experts warn. The indictment points to farms in various countries that have been accused of human rights abuses, forced labor and even child labor.

However, Is space mining 100% sustainable? With the increasing number of tourist trips that experience weightlessness, various studies have shown that rocket launches release large amounts of black carbon. And that the environmental impact of these particles exceeds the impact of soot emissions from commercial aircraft. To mention one example, Virgin Galactic’s flight released 4.5 tons of carbon per person into the atmosphere, which is double the guidelines set in the Paris Agreement, the legally binding international treaty on climate change.

In addition, the fuel used by rockets destroys the ozone layer. If there are no rules, it is possible that the transition from land-based mining to space mining is a transition from one polluting activity to another.

Space loot and the ownership dilemma: who owns extraterrestrial treasures?

space mining
Who owns the objects found in it in the vast Universe? (Photo: NASA)

This problem extends to the edges of the universe. What is happening to the environment in different parts of the solar system and other galaxies? Besides, who allowed humanity stir resources that abound in space? Currently, There is no special legal framework regulating this activity..

Until now, the closest thing to regulating space production is Artemis Chords, carried out by NASA as part of its planned return to the Moon with manned missions. In addition to the reference to cooperation for peaceful purposes in accordance with international treaties, one of its paragraphs establishes the following obligation. “To preserve the heritage of outer space (…) and to promote the multinational efforts necessary to develop the practices and regulations to achieve it.”

Moreover, here we must dwell on Outer Space Treaty, which establishes that no one – neither person nor country – can claim extraterrestrial territory as their own. This is a kind of reference book on international law beyond the earthly sphere. Its layout dates back to 1967, shortly before humanity arrived on the Moon. Currently, about 110 countries have signed such an agreement.

“Everything is described in detail here. But there is no final decision yet and each country has its own position,” he notes in a dialogue with Hypertext Vlad Sitnikov, founder of StartRocket. This is a company that is also looking for doing business in space. Some time ago, he took the initiative to advertise in the sky.

16 Psyche, a paradigm of expectations regarding asteroid mining

YouTube video

Floating far away from here is an asteroid shaped like an irregular potato and whose surface area exceeds 165,000 square kilometers. It orbits the Sun, between Mars and Jupiter, about 400 million kilometers from the big star. NASA says that 16 Psycheas it is called, is “one of the most intriguing objects” in space, especially due to its abundant wealth of metals.

Discovered in 1852, it is now believed to be composed primarily of nickel and iron. It may also contain gold and silver. Lindy Elkins-Tanton, a researcher at the American agency, calculated several years ago that The value of these resources on Earth will be about 10 trillion dollars.. This figure is 10,000 times the global economy.

This space mining beacon will be closely studied around 2029, when a probe launched by NASA last October (in the video above) reaches the asteroid. When it does, it will explore it for 26 months and is expected to crash into its surface in 2031. “This is the first time we are going to the intermediate world. Last time we visited planets and objects made of rock and ice. But never on a satellite like The psyche that can lead to unimaginable discoveriessaid Bob Cabana, NASA associate administrator.

In a study published in Planetary Science Journal It was indicated that 16 Psyche would be the core of a planet that never formed. Otherwise, the interest is not limited to economic wealth. “What makes it so attractive is that these types of bodies are considered the main components of the solar system. It’s interesting to understand what the planet is actually made of and potentially see what’s inside. Once we get there, we’ll know if it’s true, even if things don’t work out the way we hope. This is interesting,” said the lead author of the above-mentioned report, Dr. Tracy Becker.

What is the current status of mining in space?

space mining
A space mining expert says that to walk, “you first have to crawl.” (Photo: NASA)

Space mining is a promising activity. No celestial cleanup efforts are currently underway, and progress is expected to be gradual. As Ian Lange, one of the study’s authors from the Colorado School of Mines, commented on this issue, you first need to “crawl and then start walking.”

As stated in the publication Wired Looking at this report, as early as 2010, some companies such as Deep Space and Planetary Resources (the latter backed by Google co-founder Larry Page) promised asteroid exploration within the next decade. Both companies were dissolved between 2018 and 2019.

Other companies are emerging in the sector, including AstroForge. Based in the US, it plans to focus on metallic asteroids. Last year it launched a satellite into Earth orbit to evaluate its technology in microgravity. And it hopes to begin operations towards the end of the current decade. Another participant – Pocket+the purpose of which is to collect clay present in celestial bodies to make infrastructure in space itself.

What will happen to space mining?

Following the analogy of Lange, who incidentally published an accompanying study with the founder of the aforementioned AstroForge, the steps they follow to move from “crawling to walking” are to determine where to carry out space mining. Although observations with telescopes are useful, the missions will have to be sent for examination. on the spot. In addition, important aspects such as extraction methods and subsequent delivery of these materials to Earth remain to be resolved.

As part of future activities, it will not be trivial to determine the issues of ownership of space assets under consideration. In this regard, the Colorado researchers conclude: “The foreign rights regime is unclear (…) These issues will likely be resolved in the courts as more private citizens cross the legal boundary. However, the debate would benefit from a combined approach of law and economics that would optimally allocate property rights to stimulate exploration in space.”

According to the aforementioned Sitnikov, AstroForge says that they are about to start, but it is unlikely that anyone will do it, at least in the next 10 years. “There are many technical aspects, challenges and risks. This requires will. investors are still very skeptical. “It’s easier to invest in an iPhone app than to invest in the possibility of mining platinum in deep space,” he says.

Source: Hiper Textual

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