Deep Space Industries http://deepspaceindustries.com Space resources company with initial focus on asteroid prospecting, mining, and processing to serve high-value in-space markets. Fri, 27 Mar 2015 22:11:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ‘Space Lawyers’ Help Startups Navigate the Final Legal Frontier http://deepspaceindustries.com/space-lawyers-help-startups-navigate-the-final-legal-frontier/ http://deepspaceindustries.com/space-lawyers-help-startups-navigate-the-final-legal-frontier/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 20:20:07 +0000 http://deepspaceindustries.com/?p=3510 wsj-wallstreetjournal-convertedAttorneys make up new legalese as businesses reach for the stars; spacecraft tort, asteroid mining disputes.  When Sagi Kfir meets people and tells them he is a “space attorney,” they usually think he has a strange way of saying he is in real estate. Read More...]]> Attorneys make up new legalese as businesses reach for the stars; spacecraft tort, asteroid mining disputes

Sagi-WSJWhen Sagi Kfir meets people and tells them he is a “space attorney,” they usually think he has a strange way of saying he is in real estate.

He says that when he adds that he is chief counsel of an asteroid mining company, people start telling “Star Wars” jokes.

One common question: Do you represent Chewbacca or Han Solo?

“I’m always the most interesting lawyer at a cocktail party,” says Mr. Kfir, 42 years old.

Jokes aside, space law is a big deal. A range of commercial space businesses including space hotel startups, satellite providers and companies focused on harvesting resources from asteroids, have matured to the point that they require legal services. Meanwhile, law schools are opening new programs and international symposia are being held.

As the first chief counsel of a space mining company, Mr. Kfir is at the forefront of this odd offshoot of aerospace law. From his office in the modified two-car garage of his house in San Diego, Mr. Kfir spends much of his time mulling some rather otherworldly legal issues.

For example, what happens if one space-mining craft accidentally sends a rock flying into another spacecraft? Who pays for the damage? Or if a company successfully mines an asteroid and brings a precious cargo of platinum back to Earth, does it own the metal?

Space law professors have gone even further in positing legal quandaries.

For instance, if an American astronaut were to be murdered by a British astronaut on the moon, it is generally believed that U.S. courts could handle the case. But if the same astronaut should happen to have his pocket picked by another astronaut, it is unclear whether the victim would have legal recourse. The rationale is that there isn’t any precedent to assert U.S. jurisdiction in a minor crime.

Some new phrases for the legal field: orbital jurisdiction, space tourism liability, asteroid mining disputes, spacecraft tort.

“It’s not science fiction anymore,” said Matthew Schaefer, director of the Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law Program at the Nebraska College of Law in Lincoln. “There is now real money going into these companies. It’s a huge difference from eight or nine years ago when it was all just an idea.”

Joanne Gabrynowicz, a well-known professor of space law and adviser on three federal aviation committees, shows episodes of “Star Trek” to students to help them imagine space law issues. A favorite from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” series is “A Matter of Perspective,” where Cmdr. William T. Riker is accused of murder on a planet where all suspects are presumed guilty.

Mr. Kfir’s employer, Deep Space Industries Inc., was founded in 2012. The company has aspirations to send spacecraft to asteroids with the ultimate goal of mining their resources and bringing them back to Earth, or using them for other space projects. The first mining effort isn’t expected for at least five years. The details have yet to be worked out.

Born in Israel, Mr. Kfir came to the U.S. in the 1970s, speaking just a few words of English. His earliest memory is watching “Star Wars” during a school field trip.

“Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed with anything that flies in the air,” said Mr. Kfir, whose home office is adorned with models from the movie, a painting of a cartoon rocket and a photo of an Indian yogi called Sadhguru.

At the University of Miami School of Law, Mr. Kfir focused on aerospace law and after graduation he mostly worked on issues pertaining to plane crashes. But after a chance encounter several years ago with space entrepreneur Rick Tumlinson, he joined Deep Space Industries as its top lawyer, following what he said was a “natural desire to explore frontiers.”

His old-fashioned parents were skeptical. “They are more down-to-earth,” Mr. Kfir says.

Later, his prospective in-laws needed some convincing, but his wife, Britta, approved of his career choice. (She is also a “Star Wars” fan).

A video on the website of Deep Space Industries shows an animation of a small ship towing an asteroid through space while a husky male voice says: “We don’t build rockets, we don’t do astronomy. We are explorers and harvesters, makers and suppliers.”

Mr. Kfir runs into a certain amount of skepticism when he starts to explain his company and the emerging commercial frontier in space.

His reminds people of other edgy ventures in the history of business, such as the formation of the East India Company in the 17th century. When it first started out, he points out, it faced great risks from the tumultuous sea, pirates and other hostile forces.

“It takes a while but I can usually convince people that it’s a real business,” he said of asteroid mining.

His days at his home office involve hours of conventional legal work, including the drafting of shareholder agreements and contracts. Mr. Kfir also spends a quarter of his work week advising clients in the aviation industry.

But, otherwise, he says, he lets his mind wander as he ponders a human society spread out in settlements across the solar system and a new era of commerce based on extracting resources from other planets and asteroids.

Mr. Kfir said he plans to travel into space himself when the option is available to ordinary people. He would prefer the moon over Mars because he feels he is already familiar with something akin to a Martian landscape. On weekends he goes out exploring the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park near San Diego in a sand-colored 1988 Toyota truck.

“It’s my own little Millennium Falcon,” he said, referring to the famed spaceship of the “Star Wars” films.

This story was originally published by the Wall Street Journal.  You can read the original story here.

]]>
http://deepspaceindustries.com/space-lawyers-help-startups-navigate-the-final-legal-frontier/feed/ 0
Bitcoin Pioneer Inks Contract for Satellite Constellation http://deepspaceindustries.com/bitcoin-pioneer-inks-contract-for-satellite-constellation/ http://deepspaceindustries.com/bitcoin-pioneer-inks-contract-for-satellite-constellation/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 16:47:59 +0000 http://deepspaceindustries.com/?p=3487 Bitsat Star BackgroundJeff Garzik, Bitcoin pioneer and CEO of Dunvegan Space Systems (DSS) announced he has signed a contract with Deep Space Industries (DSI) to build a 24 BitSat satellite constellation as the first element of a new strategic alliance between the two firms.  Read More...]]> Jeff Garzik’s Dunvegan Space Systems to Partner with Deep Space Industries on New Project
Bitsat Nanosat

Deep Space Industries will build a constellation of 24 nano-sats, called BitSats for Dunvegan Space Systems.

Atlanta, GA – March 12, 2015.  Jeff Garzik, Bitcoin pioneer and CEO of Dunvegan Space Systems (DSS) announced he has signed a contract with Deep Space Industries (DSI) to build a 24 BitSat satellite constellation as the first element of a new strategic alliance between the two firms. The nanosats to be used in the Dunvegan constellation designed by DSI provide an order of magnitude cost advantage over traditional telecommunication satellites.  Based on the industry standard Cubesat form factor, BitSat enables a cost and performance framework that supports the open platform business model employed by Dunvegan.

“Just as Bitcoin is revolutionizing financial exchanges, Dunvegan will do the same for space systems with this project,” said Garzik. “To do it right we needed a partner that was both visionary and technically capable. Once I began to work with Deep Space we realized we had found that partner.”

Building on expertise in open-source software and democratized financial systems, Garzik launched this new company to capitalize on the rapidly emerging commercialization of space and advancements in technology platforms. Dunvegan specializes in distributed applications and computing solutions for the space based market, including Software-as-a Service (SaaS) platforms and financialization of space resources.

“DSI’s long term goal of harvesting space resources is well known, and our first steps involve developing nimble, low cost spacecraft that turn out to be very similar to the needs of Dunvegan,” said DSI CEO Daniel Faber. “Partnering with DSS on the BitSat project allows DSI to ramp up production of our spacecraft avionics suite and implement several improvements. It’s a perfect match all around.”

The DSS constellation will be the first-ever constellation of communication satellites based on open platform principles, with a focus of providing communications, data processing, storage and broadcasting capabilities in space. The deal to build and fly the spacecraft was signed after a several months long interaction between the two firms, including a detailed constellation and spacecraft design project completed last summer by Deep Space at its Silicon Valley based NASA Ames facility.

“This is the first of a number of efforts we have planned with DSI,” said Dunvegan CEO Jeff Garzik. “Dunvegan is focused on providing software and data solutions for our customers, while the partnership with DSI will provide the hardware for this and several upcoming projects. Together we believe we can help transform the ability of people around the world to benefit from space activities, be it in terms of communications or resources.”

Daniel Faber and Jeff Garzik will be participating in a panel session at SXSW Interactive on Monday, March 16 at 11am.  Due to the popularity of the panel, “Big Data in the Off Planet Era” this session is now RSVP only.  If you are a SXSW badge holder, RSVP to attend the panel here:  http://schedule.sxsw.com/2015/events/event_IAP40528 or search using the hashtag #OffPlanet.  Both companies, Deep Space Industries and Dunvegan Space Systems will also be presenting at a special Space Road Show event on Sunday evening.  For more information on this exclusive event for accredited investors, please contact Meagan Crawford at Media@DeepSpaceIndustries.com.

About Dunvegan Space Systems:

Dunvegan Space Systems is preparing to launch the first-ever constellation of communications satellites based on open platforms and computing systems, with a focus on providing data processing, storage and broadcasting capabilities in space. Dunvegan believes that the rapidly emerging commercialization of space represents an untapped market for open-source communication and computing systems that can provide unique advantages over current terrestrial solutions.

About Deep Space Industries Inc.:

Deep Space Industries is a technology and spacecraft design company, currently developing efficient means of utilizing the resources of outer space.  DSI will locate, harvest, and refine asteroid materials and then manufacture and distribute products, propellants and technology solutions to in-space customers.

Dragonfly-class vehicle

Deep Space Industries is developing innovative spacecraft for long-duration deep space missions, including the Firefly- and Dragonfly-class vehicles. The Dragonfly is designed to capture and transport resources of various shapes and sizes.

 

]]>
http://deepspaceindustries.com/bitcoin-pioneer-inks-contract-for-satellite-constellation/feed/ 0
Daniel Faber, CEO of DSI to Moderate Panel at SXSW http://deepspaceindustries.com/daniel-faber-ceo-of-dsi-to-moderate-panel-at-sxsw/ http://deepspaceindustries.com/daniel-faber-ceo-of-dsi-to-moderate-panel-at-sxsw/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:43:55 +0000 http://deepspaceindustries.com/?p=3101 28c552aDeep Space Industries CEO Daniel Faber will moderate a panel at this years’ South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival on the ramifications of big data in an era of breakthroughs in digital capabilities, space development, and medical innovations.  Read More...]]> Deep Space Industries’ CEO, Daniel Faber will moderate a panel at SXSW discussing the future of Big Data in the Off Planet Era
28c552a

Daniel Faber, CEO of Deep Space Industries will moderate a panel at SXSW entitled “Beyond the Cloud: Big Data in the Off Planet Era”

Silicon Valley, CA – February 26, 2015.  Deep Space Industries CEO Daniel Faber will moderate a panel at this years’ South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival on the ramifications of big data in an era of breakthroughs in digital capabilities, space development, and medical innovations.  The panel, “Beyond the Cloud:  Big Data in the Off-Planet Era,” will be featured on Monday March 16th.

As the space industry is growing due to the rapid expansion of commercial space ventures, outer space is becoming more accessible to pioneers in many high tech sectors.  This unique cross over between the most cutting-edge industries makes the future of space utilization a dynamic topic for the tech-savvy audience of the SXSW Interactive Festival.

Panelists will include Martine Rothblatt, Chairman and CEO of United Therapeutics, who previously created SiriusXM Satellite Radio;  Rick Smith, CEO of Taser, who is working to create seamless integration of police body cameras with cloud storage; and Jeff Garzik, CEO of Dunvegan Space Systems.  Dunvegan is a DSI customer, focused on bringing decentralized, networked, open source design principles to spaceflight.  DSI and Dunvegan are working closely to develop innovative solutions to communications and data processing needs in space. With such a diverse group business mavericks, the panel is sure to spark interesting conversation and provide insights into humanity’s future beyond the cloud.

SXSW Interactive is an incubator of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity. The 2015 event features five days of compelling presentations and panels from the brightest minds in emerging technology and an unbeatable lineup of special programs showcasing the best new websites, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer. From hands-on training to big-picture analysis of the future, SXSW Interactive has become the place to preview the technology of tomorrow, today.

To read more about the panel or purchase tickets to attend, please visit “Beyond the Cloud:  Big Data in the Off-Planet Era,” on the SXSW Interactive website. If you are already planning to attending SXSW, you can find Daniel on SXSW Social here.   Follow DSI on Twitter to get further updates on #SXSW #OffPlanet.

Daniel will be available to discuss the company’s current work and future directions during SXSW. To schedule an interview with him in Austin, between March 13th and 18th, please contact Media@DeepSpaceIndustries.com.

Deep Space Industries is developing innovative spacecraft for long-duration deep space missions, including the Firefly- and Dragonfly-class vehicles.  The Dragonfly is designed to capture and transport resources of various shapes and sizes.

Deep Space Industries is developing innovative spacecraft for long-duration deep space missions, including the Firefly- and Dragonfly-class vehicles. The Dragonfly is designed to capture and transport resources of various shapes and sizes.

]]>
http://deepspaceindustries.com/daniel-faber-ceo-of-dsi-to-moderate-panel-at-sxsw/feed/ 0
Asteroid Mining 101: A New Book by World-Renowned Expert Dr. John S. Lewis http://deepspaceindustries.com/asteroid-mining-101-now-available/ http://deepspaceindustries.com/asteroid-mining-101-now-available/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 06:40:03 +0000 http://deepspaceindustries.com/?p=3027 AM 101Harvesting space resources to accelerate humanity’s expansion into the solar system is the focus of Asteroid Mining 101: Wealth for a New Space Economy, a new book written by globally recognized expert Dr. John S. Lewis.  Read more...]]>
AM 101
Front cover of “Asteroid Mining 101: Wealth for a New Space Economy,” a new book by Dr. John S. Lewis and available for sale in both hardback and digital editions on SpaceGear.Rocks.

Harvesting space resources to accelerate humanity’s expansion into the solar system is the focus of Asteroid Mining 101: Wealth for a New Space Economy, a new book written by globally recognized expert Dr. John S. Lewis.  This fascinating new title is now available in both hardback and downloadable formats on SpaceGear.Rocks

The book documents how space miners are working to discover the richest near Earth asteroids (NEAs) and transform them into the essentials required for an ever-growing human presence beyond the planet’s surface.  The book traces how meteorites – pieces of asteroids that have fallen to Earth – give us a window into the abundant resources that await space miners, from metals to build space settlements to fuel and oxygen to operate them.  However, the most valuable asteroid types carrying abundant water and hydrocarbons remain mysterious – they are so fluffy and fragile that samples almost never reach the ground.  Dr. Lewis notes that the luckiest asteroid prospectors will be those that find NEAs that actually are dormant comets comprised of 75 percent water and other volatiles.

“Reading Asteroid Mining 101 made me want to grab my favorite pickaxe and put on a spacesuit,” said Geoff Notkin, science writer and host of TV’s Meteorite Men and STEM Journals.  “Almost everything that I care most about can be found within the pages of this remarkable work:  meteorites, comets, asteroids, robots, geology, mining and even spaceships.  Dr. Lewis goes into fascinating detail on the origin and composition of meteorites, then takes us on a journey to the asteroids themselves.  The reader begins to grasp the staggering scientific and material wealth awaiting us within these cosmic rubble piles.”

Dr. Lewis estimates that once humanity establishes itself in Earth orbit and beyond, NEA resources could support 400 billion people living in abundance – more than 50 times today’s global population.  These asteroid-derived resources could be recycled and reformed to keep space civilization running indefinitely, relying on the Sun to provide the required energy.

NEAs orbit the Sun in roughly the same path that Earth follows and offer immense opportunities to improve human existence;  12,000 have been charted to date, out of an estimated two million.  Expanding to the main belt asteroids orbiting between Mars and Jupiter would enable a human population 100,000 times larger.  The amount of innovation and accomplishment possible from a space-based civilization is staggering.

Please visit SpaceGear.Rocks to purchase your copy of Asteroid Mining 101 today!

]]>
http://deepspaceindustries.com/asteroid-mining-101-now-available/feed/ 0
How Asteroid Mining Could Pay for Our First Space Colony http://deepspaceindustries.com/how-asteroid-mining-could-pay-for-our-first-space-colony/ http://deepspaceindustries.com/how-asteroid-mining-could-pay-for-our-first-space-colony/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 23:32:58 +0000 http://deepspaceindustries.com/?p=3090 gizmodo_03Many of us dream of living on other planets, but are two things we'll need before it can actually happen: money and raw materials. Now some companies say they have a solution to this problem. They'll mine asteroids for valuable metal ores, and for basic resources like water that we'll need once we're far from Earth. Originally published on Gizmodo.com  Read More...]]> gizmodoMany of us dream of living on other planets, but are two things we’ll need before it can actually happen: money and raw materials. Now some companies say they have a solution to this problem. They’ll mine asteroids for valuable metal ores, and for basic resources like water that we’ll need once we’re far from Earth.

Lucky for us, the cosmos is packed with the raw materials we need and crave. Scattered across our galaxy are trillions upon trillions of space rocks, filled with the water, precious metals, and other raw materials we’ll need to fuel our cosmic diaspora.

Mining asteroids is not just a dream—several enterprising companies are already getting the jump on it. Still, the technological barriers are immense, and we’re just beginning to come to grips with the social and political implications of a space-based civilization. Here’s what we already know—and need to know—about the industry that could make it happen.

A Solar System of Riches

Over four billion years ago, the planets and moons of our solar system began to coalesce from primordial dust. So, too, did the asteroids. While we’ve known about space rocks for over two centuries, the vast majority of discoveries have been made in the last two decades, thanks to bigger and better telescopes.

To date, we’ve identified some 10,000 near-Earth asteroids, ranging in size from several meters to hundreds of kilometers across. If that number sounds impressive, rest assured it’s not: By some estimates, there are upwards of a 150 million asteroids in the inner solar system alone.

Astronomers continue to locate more space rocks on the daily, but we’ve already found plenty to be excited about. Many of the asteroids out there are loaded with water, a resource that may, in space, be more precious than gold. As Chris Lewicki, president of the asteroid mining companyPlanetary Resources explained when I spoke with him over the phone, some of this water could be converted to rocket fuel by splitting off the hydrogen. Wet asteroids, then, may serve as cosmic gas stations; watering holes for thirsty spacecrafts and humans alike.

“When you launch a satellite up to orbit, two thirds of the weight is fuel,” Lewicki said. “If we could only refuel things without sending them back to Earth, that would open up a planetary highway.”

Enticing as that sounds, water isn’t even the most valuable commodity locked up inside asteroids. That’d be platinum, and its sister metals, which, renowned for their outstanding catalytic properties, are used in everything from computer hard drives to fuel cells to biomedical equipment. On Earth, these metals are extraordinarily rare: All of the platinum humans have ever managed to dredge from the ground, for instance, could fit inside a small Manhattan apartment. A 500-meter asteroid might contain more.

There’s a reason the private sector is now clamoring to get into space. The first successful asteroid miners may become richest human beings alive.

But before we can start trucking platinum en masse from the stars, space miners have their work cut out designing, testing and deploying the myriad technologies needed to do so. The two companies leading the charge, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, have amassed a slew of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and investors to make it happen.

Asteroid Prospecting

The first task on any would-be asteroid miner’s list is to start pinpointing some seriously lucrative rocks. While we’ve got plenty of near Earths to choose from, a trip to any one of these neighboring bodies is still a major investment, so before we send out the drills, we’d like to get as much intel as we can from afar. This, it turns out, is no trivial problem. Asteroids are small, dark, and difficult to make out within Earth’s obscuring atmosphere. In fact, the best way to get a good look at an asteroid is to put a scope into space.

That’s exactly what Planetary Resources is planning to do. Its Arkyd-100, a crowdfunded scope that weighs less than 25 pounds, will sit in low Earth orbit, peering into nearby space to analyze targeted asteroids. The next-gen version is the Arkyd-300, fondly described by company leaders as humanity’s first Imperial Probe Droid. The 300-series Arkyds, equipped with propulsion systems, will travel in swarms to nearby asteroids. Once they’ve reached a target, the bots will analyze the rock in detail, measuring its size, shape, density and elemental composition, and beam the specs back to Earth using laser-based optical communications.

The company has plans to launch two beta droids this year. If all goes well, the Arkyd-100 will launch in 2016, and the first of the Arkyd-300s will blast off in 2018.

Deep Space Industries is also planning to start small, using cost-effective prospecting crafts to conduct the initial survey work. In 2017, the company hopes to launch its very first FireFlies,laptop-sized spacecraft destined for one-way asteroid recon missions. After targets are confirmed, the choicest rocks will be visited a second time with “DragonFlies”, which’ll bring samples back to Earth for detailed analysis. Eventually, “Harvestors” may be sent out to quite literally pull the most promising suckers back to us.

Juicing a Space Rock

For mining water, we’ll probably go after carbonaceous chrondrites, or C-type asteroids—wet, crumbly rocks with an elemental composition similar to that of the sun. As Popular Mechanics describes, Planetary Resources envisions using its Arkyd swarms to slurp up rocky regolith and funnel the stuff into a processor. The water can then be steamed off and recollected in a separate tank.

A subset of the rocks we squeeze for water—the so-called L4 chrondrites—may also be rich in platinum-group metals. How we extract these metals is likely to depend on a host of factors, including their concentration and the sort of matrix they’re embedded in. “Space rocks are all different,” Rick Tumlinson, Chair of Deep Space Industries, told me in an email. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution to extracting what we need from them.”

Even so, both companies have floated some intriguing possibilities. Planetary Resources cofounder Eric Anderson has described how we can use the sun’s energy to essentially melt down asteroids and concentrate the heat-resistant platinum-group metals. Anderson goes on to explain how giant balls of the platinum might be safely returned to Earth by dropping them into an uninhabited desert somewhere.

Several weeks ago, DSI announced that it’s investigating the feasibility of injecting bioengineered, metal-munching microbes into space rocks. The idea here is that these mining bugs will, over the course of years, chew up an asteroid from the inside out and concentrate the metals for us.

“Certain living creatures, called extremophiles, are able to survive and thrive in environments that would blow your mind, including nuclear reactors,” Tulminson said. “Eventually, we believe that genetic variants of these and similar creatures might be used in space mining processes.”

It’s an awesome idea, but, researchers have been quick to point out, one that’s still very, very preliminary. (There’s the minor challenge of genetically engineering a bug that’s able to sustain a hearty metabolism in the harsh vacuum of space for years on end). At this point, it seems safe to say that any and all options—blasting, melting, eating, vaporizing, magnetically separating—are on the table.

Who Owns the Asteroids?

As we move ever closer to a space-mining future, some thorny legal questions have begun to rear their heads. To wit, under current law, it’s unclear who, if anyone, can legally own an asteroid—a fact which is making early investors squirm in their seats.

“Anybody who wants to go to an asteroid now and extract a resource is facing a large legal open question,” space lawyer Joanne Gabrynowicz told NPR in an interview earlier this month.

Space is a global commons, meaning that all nations have the right to use it and explore it. But when it comes to staking out resources in space, we’ve yet to reach any sort of agreement. Since the United States has obligations to regulate its private space enterprises under international law, the largely US-based asteroid mining industry has been pushing Congress to pass legislation clarifying the matter.

This past September, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a hearing on the Asteroid Act, a five-page bill that would recognize ownership by companies of the resources they’ve extracted from asteroids and, prevent companies from interfering with the operations of competitors. As Slate reported this past fall, the bill was met with support from the commercial space community, but criticism from legal experts. Gabrynowicz, for one, feels that the bill fails to address wide-ranging issues, including whether granting mining rights to a US company is actually legal under international law. You know, details.

For now, at least, it’d seem the asteroids are first come, first serve. We’re becoming the stars of our very own space western.

Post-Earth Economies

Space may be a lawless frontier right now, but this just the beginning. It’s not hard to imagine asteroid mining taking off within the century, and with it, manifold new opportunities for exploration and development opening up. In the future, Deep Space Industries envisions a system of space-based manufacturing, wherein asteroid metals are fed directly into 3D printersto build new mining gear, platforms, and even outer space habitats.

If, as today’s space pioneers hope, we can begin to build and fuel structures off-world using asteroid-derived materials, that cuts out a very expensive middleman—Earth. At which point, manned interstellar missions and outer space settlements might be within reach. One can imagine asteroid depots scattered across the stars, resupplying our 3D-printed spaceships with hydrogen fuel, water, and replacement parts.

“If the door to long-term space travel will ever be opened, it’ll be opened by using the resources of space,” Lewicki said. “From an exploration standpoint, this is the next big push.”

As dangerous as it might be, it’s hard to resist the call of the frontier. If somebody offered me a pickaxe, a spacesuit, and a ticket up, I’m not sure I could refuse.

This story was originally published on Gizmodo.com.  You can read the original story here.

]]>
http://deepspaceindustries.com/how-asteroid-mining-could-pay-for-our-first-space-colony/feed/ 0
Asteroid Miners May Get Help from Metal-Munching Microbes http://deepspaceindustries.com/asteroid-miners-may-get-help-from-metal-munching-microbes/ http://deepspaceindustries.com/asteroid-miners-may-get-help-from-metal-munching-microbes/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 19:00:10 +0000 http://deepspaceindustries.com/?p=2884 microbesOver time, the microbes — genetically engineered to process metals efficiently — would break down harmful compounds within the asteroid and/or transform resources into different chemical states that are more amenable to extraction.  Read more...]]> Genetically engineered to process metals, microbes may assist in processing and mining asteroid materials.

Genetically engineered to process metals, microbes may assist in processing and mining asteroid materials.

The scientists working on the concept envision launching a small probe that DSI is developing, called Mothership, out to a promising near-Earth asteroid in deep space. Mothership would be carrying a number of tiny CubeSats, one of which would deploy and spiral down to the asteroid’s surface.

The CubeSat would then inject into the asteroid a low-temperature fluid laden with bacteria, which would propagate through cracks and fissures generated by the injection process. Over time, the microbes — genetically engineered to process metals efficiently — would break down harmful compounds within the asteroid and/or transform resources into different chemical states that are more amenable to extraction.

This work would be slow, but the bacteria would be doing it for free (after the initial expenditure of getting them out to the asteroid, of course).

“The use of self-sustaining biomining mitigates the need for sustained docking, anchoring, drilling, processing or other technically challenging traditional mining approaches,” Grace and his colleagues wrote in a poster they presented at AGU. “If shown to function, the use of life to preprocess valuable deep-space resources could change the economic practicality of a large range of human activity in space.”

This article originally appeared on Space.com.  To view the original article, please click here.

Deep Space Industries Asteroid Capture Concept.  Image Credit:  Bryan Versteeg

Deep Space Industries Asteroid Capture Concept Vehicle. Image Credit: Bryan Versteeg

Deep Space Industries' Asteroid Sampling Concept.  Image Credit:  Bryan Versteeg

Deep Space Industries’ Asteroid Sampling Concept. Image Credit: Bryan Versteeg

]]>
http://deepspaceindustries.com/asteroid-miners-may-get-help-from-metal-munching-microbes/feed/ 0
Why ARM? NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission http://deepspaceindustries.com/why-arm/ http://deepspaceindustries.com/why-arm/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 19:26:16 +0000 http://deepspaceindustries.com/?p=2728 Deep Space Industries Asteroid Capture Concept  Vehicle.  Image Credit:  Bryan VersteegIn order to settle the final frontier, humanity must learn to “live off the land” by utilizing the vast resources of space.  The first step in this process is through the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM).  Read more...]]> NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is Vital to the Future of Humanity in Space
Astronaut preparing to take samples from the captured asteroid

This concept image shows an astronaut preparing to take samples from the captured asteroid. Image Credit: NASA

For 50 years NASA has been the world leader in space exploration and development, ushering humanity into the space age through innovative technologies and unparalleled scientific discoveries.  As we push forward to a new space agenda focused on long-term human settlement, NASA’s leadership is key to removing barriers and creating new capabilities.  In order to settle the final frontier, humanity must learn to “live off the land” by utilizing the vast resources of space.  The first step in this process is through the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM).

NASA will announce in February whether they will gather and return an entire small asteroid, or a piece of a larger asteroid, repositioning the material into orbit around the Moon.  Astronauts, and eventually private companies, will then be able to study the material in an effort to better understand the resources available from near-Earth asteroids.

Deep Space Industries sees particular importance in returning tons of material from a carbonaceous chondrite asteroid so that the private sector can conduct pilot production of propellant and other products. Only ounces of such material exist from meteorite falls or will be collected during upcoming science-oriented asteroid missions; and currently none of this material is available for processing tests.

Until theoretical predictions are followed up with verifiable data, NASA and the private sector cannot confidently invest in unlocking the huge exploration leverage offered by asteroid resources. While in-situ resources on the lunar surface and on Mars benefit only activities in those two places, ARM is a key step toward showing that asteroid resources returned to cis-lunar space will enhance the economics of all space activities, from propellants and radiation shielding for expeditions to the Moon and Mars to the resupply of Earth-orbit enterprises.

The tons of material returned by ARM will be crucial to pilot production of soft cryogens such as methane and LOX, as well as storables such as methanol and hydrogen peroxide. These chemical fuels provide for the rapid delivery of crews to Mars and robotic missions to the outer planets. Also, the larger solar arrays spurred by ARM will provide very useful high power levels for the in-space processing of asteroid-derived products.

The agency’s collaborative process for formulating ARM has been cognizant of the great potential for industry to build upon what NASA initially creates. Overall, ARM provides truly important strides toward a sustainable and expansive exploration agenda across the solar system.

Deep Space Industries Asteroid Capture Concept.  Image Credit:  Bryan Versteeg

Deep Space Industries Asteroid Capture Concept Vehicle. Image Credit: Bryan Versteeg

Deep Space Industries' Asteroid Sampling Concept.  Image Credit:  Bryan Versteeg

Deep Space Industries’ Asteroid Sampling Concept. Image Credit: Bryan Versteeg

]]>
http://deepspaceindustries.com/why-arm/feed/ 0
Asteroid Discoveries Surge by 42 Percent in 2014 http://deepspaceindustries.com/asteroid-discoveries-surge-by-42-percent-in-2014/ http://deepspaceindustries.com/asteroid-discoveries-surge-by-42-percent-in-2014/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 16:23:41 +0000 http://deepspaceindustries.com/?p=2579 NEO graph

The world’s telescopes found a record number of near Earth objects (NEOs) in 2014, with 1,470 discoveries in the past year.  This was a 42 percent increase over the number of NEOs found in 2013.  The running total of Near Earth Objects (with known orbits) reached 12,043 by the end of the year.

]]>
The world’s telescopes found a record number of near Earth objects (NEOs) in 2014, with 1,470 discoveries in the past year.  This was a 42 percent increase over the number of NEOs found in 2013.  The running total of Near Earth Objects (with known orbits) reached 12,043 by the end of the year.asteroid-png-0

The Pan-STARS system in Hawaii found 619 NEOs, and the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona tagged another 611.  A brand new system in Chile designed to track distant galaxies in the southern sky – the Dark Energy Survey – discovered a further 131 Near Earth Objects.

While this is excellent progress, there is still much work to be done in this field.  The still-unseen near Earth asteroids and comets, larger than 1 meter in diameter, are estimated to number more than two million.

Of the NEOs tracked to date, 1,533 are cataloged as “potentially” hazardous to Earth.  None of these actually threaten Earth now, but NEO orbits are not stable and random events can move them into new trajectories that could be problematic.  The official definition of potentially hazardous covers NEOs that come within 4.65 million miles of Earth and are at least 150 meters in size – about 500 feet – large enough to level Los Angeles or London.

However, the Chelyabinsk air burst in 2013 caused extensive property damage and the object was less than 20 meters in diameter.  Including Chelyabinsk-size asteroids would boost the potentially hazardous count to about 10,000 objects.

As the number of identified Near Earth Objects continues to grow, so does the need for reliable methodologies of mitigating the threat of object impact.  Deep Space Industries is developing an Electromagnetic Regolith Rocket that can use an asteroid’s own surface soil as propellant to alter the objects trajectory.  This rocket is specifically designed to deflect threatening objects that are discovered with only a few year’s warning before impact.  This innovative technology would replace the controversial approach of using nuclear weapons to blow up asteroids, which would produce debris with hard-to-predict trajectories.

NEO graph

]]>
http://deepspaceindustries.com/asteroid-discoveries-surge-by-42-percent-in-2014/feed/ 0
Designing a Mothership to Deliver Swarms of Spacecraft to Asteroids http://deepspaceindustries.com/designing-a-mothership-to-deliver-swarms-of-spacecraft-to-asteroids/ http://deepspaceindustries.com/designing-a-mothership-to-deliver-swarms-of-spacecraft-to-asteroids/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 23:22:09 +0000 http://deepspaceindustries.com/?p=3084 wiredAn asteroid-mining company has unveiled plans for a new mothership spacecraft designed to carry a dozen small probes to explore asteroids, comets, or even the moon.  Originally published on Wired.com.  Read More...]]> mothership-660x375SAN FRANCISCO— An asteroid-mining company has unveiled plans for a new mothership spacecraft designed to carry a dozen small probes to explore asteroids, comets, or even the moon.

The mothership, designed by Deep Space Industries, is about 3 feet in diameter and 1.5 feet tall, weighing about 330 pounds. It would carry a swarm of small satellites called cubesats, small cube-shaped spacecraft about six inches on each side that would carry instruments to study and probe the target object.

As for what exactly those instruments will be, the company wants to poll scientists about the mothership, how useful it could be to their research, and whether there are design changes that could improve its utility, says James DiCorcia of Deep Space Industries, who presented the idea Dec. 15 here at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

In addition to providing transportation and a communications link to Earth, the mothership would shield the cubesats from space radiation during the journey to its destination. NASA already has a cubesat program and has sent satellites into low-Earth orbit, where they’re safe inside the protective bubble of Earth’s magnetic field. Still, depending on the particular design, a cubesat could last years in deep space far from Earth’s protection.

Deep Space Industries, of course, is a business whose goal is to make money. The US company’s main interest since it was founded early last year has been asteroid mining. DiCorcia says scientists would have to pay for a ride onboard the mothership if they already have a cubesat designed and ready to go. If not, the company could work with the researchers to engineer one. He estimates that each mission would likely cost a researcher on the order of a couple million dollars.

Although that may not sound cheap, the idea is that hitching a ride on the mothership would still be a lot less costly and more efficient way of sending probes into space, DiCorcia says. For example, a researcher won’t have to go through a long proposal process with NASA that may never lead to an actual mission. But whether there are enough interested scientists—and more importantly, available grant money—remains to be seen. “We have to see if the money’s there,” DiCorcia said. “If the money’s not there, then we can’t do it.”

In addition to charging to ferry researchers’ cubesats, sending the mothership out would be an opportunity for the company to test its system and learn how to explore asteroids as potential places for mining. Eventually, they might create prospecting kits that they could just send out to any asteroid that shows promise. In the most optimistic scenario, DiCorcia says, the mothership’s first mission to an asteroid could launch onboard a rocket in 2018.

Ultimately, Deep Space Industries is interested in mining asteroids for water, ices, and other volatile chemicals that can be used to make rocket fuel, which can then be stored in orbiting refilling stations for spacecraft on their way to Mars or other distant destinations.

This story was originally published online by Wired.com.  You can read the original story here.

]]> http://deepspaceindustries.com/designing-a-mothership-to-deliver-swarms-of-spacecraft-to-asteroids/feed/ 0 NASA Postpones Decision on Asteroid Redirect Mission Strategy http://deepspaceindustries.com/nasa-postpones-decision-on-asteroid-redirect-mission-strategy/ http://deepspaceindustries.com/nasa-postpones-decision-on-asteroid-redirect-mission-strategy/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:04:30 +0000 http://deepspaceindustries.com/?p=2537 DSI-Dragonfly-picker_BV-21-01-13

NASA’s  asteroid capture team briefed Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot yesterday on the two leading strategies, and neither came out the clear winner.  Mr. Lightfoot gave the team two more months to sort through the implications and benefits of each.

]]> DSI-Dragonfly-picker_BV-21-01-13

Deep Space Industries asteroid sampling concept.

NASA’s  asteroid capture team briefed Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot yesterday on the two leading strategies, and neither came out the clear winner.  Mr. Lightfoot gave the team two more months to sort through the implications and benefits of each.  One approach is to rendezvous with a six- to fifteen-foot diameter near Earth asteroid (NEA) and capture it in an inflated bag.  The other approach would visit a larger NEA and select the most promising surface boulder to collect.  This second approach would cost about $100 million more than the first strategy, but Mr. Lightfoot said it also would demonstrate more technology useful to an eventual Mars mission.

Deep Space Industries is under contract to NASA to advise it on how to enhance the agency’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) so that it attracts industry-funded enhancements.  These potential improvements range from precursor missions that scout NEAs to find those with the best resource value, to designing experiments to process material from the returned asteroid to test the creation of rocket propellant, oxygen for life support, and metals for construction habitats and other structures in space.  The final Deep Space report will be delivered to NASA next month.

A final decision will come in late February at a Mission Concept Review, along with a decision on the launch date – sometime in mid 2019 or later.  Fresh cost estimates for the two approaches also will be completed by then.  NASA officials expect ARM to cost about $1.25 billion, not counting the launch vehicle, which could be a Delta Heavy, a Falcon Heavy or a Space Launch System booster.

Option A Concept

Deep Space Industries asteroid capture concept.

]]>
http://deepspaceindustries.com/nasa-postpones-decision-on-asteroid-redirect-mission-strategy/feed/ 0