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Earlier this month, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission rendezvoused with asteroid 101955 Bennu, around which it plans to brake into close orbit on New Year’s Eve. Meanwhile, on June 27, Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission reached asteroid 162173 Ryugu, above which it has since been hovering at distances as short as 60 metres.
The biggest difference has to do with water. Even though scientists believe them to be portions of the same parent body, which broke apart between 800 million and one billion years ago, Bennu appears to be water rich, while Ryugu is less so.
“The moment you can produce both water and building materials cheaper from asteroids than from launching them from Earth,” Campins says, “there are going to be a lot of clients that are going to want to buy it.
“I think that sooner than many people think, there will be a self-sustaining space economy, with asteroid mining selling building materials to Earth orbit and lunar operations.”
How soon? “I might as well stick my neck out,” Campins says. “I’d say within 10 to 15 years.” If he’s right, that’s only 10 years after OSIRIS-REx’s sample is scheduled to be returned to Earth, in 2023.
originally posted by: JPtruther
a reply to: 727Sky
*Cuts to astronaut just chilling in space waiting for the next asteroid to come along*