Asteroid mining : a review of methods and aspects

Detta är en Kandidat-uppsats från Lunds universitet/Institutionen för naturgeografi och ekosystemvetenskap

Sammanfattning: According to many sources - such as television and science - the final frontier is space. And seemingly, one of the hottest related topics today are asteroids and their presumed promise of inherent wealth - or doom - depending on who reaches who first. The wealth is represented mainly by volatiles for fuel production and precious metals for technological development. The doom is represented by a possible impact from an asteroid. This review has evaluated the main techniques and technologies being developed and tested to explore, prospect and harvest near-Earth asteroids estimated to be worth billions of dollars. Further, the two major space-related companies Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries and their respective approaches to asteroid mining have been reviewed as well. Ultimately, the aspects of financial feasibility and environmental and legal issues have been approached. It was found that a future space mission to harvest asteroids seems prosperous and even plausible in the near future of possibly a few decades if using a cost-effective mission architecture. The necessary knowledge increases quickly due to interests of profit and exploration and space is among the fastest growing businesses. Theories on how to commercialize space were scrutinized to find negative effects to humanity and environment, though only a few were found – most side effects seem beneficial to the human race and the main ones are described in the text. And naturally, as the main themes of this thesis consist of future projects and their implications, much of the information herein is stated as estimations and speculations.

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