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Last month Congress passed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, a bill that grants U.S. citizens the legal rights to own resources in outer space. According to asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, mining in space can potentially open up a trillion dollar market as it is the last remaining so-called "elephant field of unexplored, highly valuable natural resources.”
Planetary Resources deployed its first spacecraft from the International Space Station last month, and the Washington-based asteroid-mining company aims to launch a series of increasingly ambitious and capable probes over the next few years. The goal is to begin transforming asteroid water into rocket fuel within a decade, and eventually to harvest valuable and useful platinum-group metals from space rocks.
Californian startup Deep Space Industries (DSI) aims to eventually harvest and supply resources for the burgeoning space economy.
“Deep Space Industries has worked diligently to get to this point, and now we can say with confidence that we have the right technology, the right team and the right plan to execute this historic mission,” said Rick Tumlinson, co-founder of DSI.
Have you ever wondered how much gold remains to be mined on Earth? How about the lesser-known element indium, essential to computer and smartphone displays? Known sources of some metals could be depleted in as little as 20 to 30 years, especially the rarest ones necessary to construct computers, smartphones, and other advanced technologies.
While some elements can be substituted for others, many metals are effectively irreplaceable because of their unique properties.
What would happen to the value of an ounce of gold, silver, palladium, platinum, or whathaveyou, if some private organization (or government agency like NASA) were to bring a payload of these precious metals back to Spaceship Earth, flooding the market with a large supply all at once? Would the price plummet? Would someone who has been "stacking their silver eagles", investing in hard assets suddenly find themselves holding pounds and pounds of metals that are no longer as valuable?
According to Hamid S. Hosseini, the power of supply and demand was understood to some extent by several early Muslim scholars, such as fourteenth-century Syrian scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, who wrote: "If desire for goods increases while its availability decreases, its price rises. On the other hand, if availability of the good increases and the desire for it decreases, the price comes down."
Yes that's what it boils down to though in asteroid mining I'd have to add what could change the economics is a breakthrough technology. For example, if a space elevator could be built and drastically lower the costs of sending mining equipment into space, then suddenly the costs of asteroid mining which are too high now might become competitive.
originally posted by: TheGreazel
Supply and Demand.
“Water is the new oil of space,” James said in Singapore. “Middle East investment in space is growing as it works to shift from an oil-based to a knowledge-based economy.”
In the long term, most of the commodities mined in space will stay in space to power a low-orbit space economy built around satellites and space stations, James said. In that scenario, water accumulated in space would become valuable as it could be used for rocket fuel for interstellar voyages. The substance is too heavy and costly to transport from Earth.
Water can be used as a propellant in space or split into hydrogen and oxygen, and then recombined and combusted. Deep Space Industries Inc., an asteroid mining company, has developed a thruster that heats water into a steam propellant, according to Goldman.