This January, a new start-up called Deep Space Industries has joined the race to extract minerals from asteroids, causing many skeptics to rethink this new industry’s profitability. The company’s plan is to harvest its first 25-65 kg hunk of space rock by 2016.
Last year, Google billionaires Eric Schmidt and Larry Page launched Space Mining Venture, a firm that also aims at mining asteroids. The company raised a lot of eyebrows amid promises to have a spacecraft in orbit before 2015.
That a race is now on for the first company to gain from this untapped resource means others are starting to rethink the possibility, but barriers and unknowns remain. The Economist reported in March that the potential mineral returns could be “astronomical”, but Deep Space Industries’ time-frame appears to be cutting corners, especially since “none of the company’s technology has yet been demonstrated”.