NASA Getting Ready to Start Mining Alien Planets

Space mining to become reality next decade 1 photo
The first steps toward making humankind a species that utilizes resources found in space were made last week when NASA announced the selection of companies that would be in charge of developing the needed technologies.
NASA said last week it has selected ten companies that are to conduct initial research into the possibility of in-situ resource utilization (ISRU). In words we can all understand, that mining asteroids and alien planets.

Over the next few years, NASA would look into the technologies needed for producing propellant and other exploration mission consumables using water from extraterrestrial soils and carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere.

The efforts towards that end are to begin with one-year research into identifying technology gaps associated with ISRU. There are four companies involved in this project, including Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin.

Another four companies would be trying for the following three and a half years to address technology development and demonstration. Subsystem development and testing in simulated space environments are to follow.

“We are continuing to learn about our Moon and the value its resources can provide for human exploration,” said in a statement Jason Crusan, director of Advanced Exploration Systems at NASA.

“If we can find smart ways to harness its resources now, those capabilities will help shape our long-term exploration goals, including partnership and commercial opportunities with and for U.S. industry. Furthermore, these capabilities will help us prepare for ISRU on Mars and other planetary bodies in deep space.”

The space agency would invest $10 million in these projects through its NextSTEP contracts. All research should be completed by 2021.

Later in the next decade, NASA promises to have a significant presence on the Moon. Missions to the Moon will start with deliveries of small payloads to the surface, the deployment of four Moon-orbiting CubeSats and eventually the assembly of a lunar outpost in space.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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