Asteroid Mining Mission Ushers in 'New Era of Unlimited Economic Expansion'

space asteroid mining prospector
Deep Space Industries is preparing for an asteroid mining mission before the end of the decade. Deep Space Industries

A private space mining company has announced plans to send an asteroid prospector into space by 2020, making it the first commercial mining mission beyond Earth's orbit.

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.

"Prospector-1 is not only the first commercial interplanetary mission, it is also an important milestone in our quest to open the frontier. By learning to 'live off the land' in space, Deep Space Industries is ushering in a new era of unlimited economic expansion," he continued.

asteroid mining deep space industries prospector-1
An artistic rendering of Deep Space Industries' Prospector-1 mining craft. Deep Space Industries

The announcement comes less than a week after another U.S. startup became the first private company to receive permission from the government to land craft on the moon. Moon Express plans to send a lunar lander to the surface of the moon before 2018, with the eventual aim of mining the Moon for natural resources of economic value.

DSI's Prospector-1 will build on the 2017 Prospector-X mission, an experimental trip to low-Earth orbit designed to test technologies for low-cost exploration spacecraft. Before 2020, Prospector-1 will then travel to a near-Earth asteroid to investigate the object and determine its value as a source of space resources.

If successful, DSI hopes the spacecraft will be able to provide other space travellers with supplies in space, rather than carrying them with them from Earth.

"DSI's Prospector missions will usher in a new era of low-cost space exploration," said Grant Bonin, chief engineer at DSI. "DSI is developing Prospector-1 both for its own asteroid mining ambitions, as well as to bring an extremely low-cost, yet high-performance exploration capability to the market.

"We hope to enable both existing and new public and private organizations to explore the inner solar system using this affordable platform."