Sci-fi? Mining startups plan to prospect for asteroid belt minerals beginning in 2016, but the big goal is air and water for future space travel, not gold.
Mining in space is moving from science fiction to commercial reality but metals magnates on this planet need not fear a mountain of extraterrestrial supply — the aim is to fuel human voyages deeper into the galaxy.
Within three years, two firms plan prospecting missions to passing asteroids. When even a modest space rock might meet demand for metals like platinum or gold for centuries, it is little wonder storytellers have long fantasized that to harness cosmic riches could make, and break, fortunes on Earth.
But with no way to bring much ore or metal down from the heavens, new ventures that have backing from some serious — and seriously rich — business figures, as well as interest from NASA, will focus on using space minerals in interplanetary "gas stations" or to build, support and fuel colonies on Mars.
Written By: Susan Thomas
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