Two private companies announced they will pursue their plans of asteroid mining. Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources received contracts from NASA to study asteroid redirection.
The U.S. company in Washington State, Planetary Resources will launch two satellites to analyze the design and systems of their telescopes based in outer space. The satellites are called Arkyd 6 and Arkyd 3.
The plans of the Planetary Resources company is to build a number of middle size and small telescopes capable of examining asteroids near the planet Earth for economic potential. Among the company’s telescopes are the Arkyd 300, Arkyd 200 and the Arkyd 100.
The Arkyd 300 will have propulsion systems capable of allowing it to explore beyond planet Earth and the Moon. The Arkyd 200 is an interceptor, and will have its propulsion systems capable of discovering asteroids between the Moon and the Earth. And Arkyd 100 will be a low orbit telescope of Earth capable of analyzing both the Earth and asteroid targets.
Deep Space Industries is planning to construct a number of dense spacecrafts called FireFlies. Deep Space Industries is planning to send the satellites on one way missions to gather information about the density, shape, composition and size of asteroids. They also have a plan that includes building “Dragonfly”. Dragonfly is a spacecraft that will catch asteroids and the asteroid material of the asteroids will be collected and returned to Earth by “Harvesters”.
NASA launched numerous studies on the asteroid mining potential that are part of NASA’s Early Stage Innovations and Innovative Advanced Concepts directives. Probably Platinum metals and water are the most profitable potential for operations of asteroid mining, the Robotic Asteroid Prospector study discovered. NASA also presented some early designs for the extraction of water.
OSIRIS-REx, a NASA spacecraft is design to study the “Bennu” asteroid. The “Bennu” asteroid is close to Earth and the primary goal is to land the spacecraft on the asteroid and gather and return data to earth. The OSIRIS-REx is scheduled in September 2016 for launch.
For the past years NASA has been studying robotic mining and runs an annual competition where students from universities compete in building robots capable of asteroid mining.