California startup AstroForge is getting ready to take off Two space missions in 2023 with the goal of becoming the first private company to mine asteroids. The first mission, scheduled for April, will have to demonstrate the technical ability to refine minerals directly in space, while the second mission, scheduled for October, will explore a near-Earth asteroid that could become the first space mine. This was announced in a press release by AstroForge itself, which last spring raised $13 million from investors to implement the project.
“Both missions are great not only for AstroForge, but for the community as a whole,” the statement reads. “We are proving step by step that asteroid mining is not science fiction but a viable way to protect and preserve our Earth,” where overexploitation of resources is coupled with a serious problem of emissions related to mining activities.
Now that technologies allow these activities to take place in space, AstroForge says it’s ready to give it a try. The first mission is scheduled to launch in April with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, in partnership with on-orbit and satellite service provider OrbAstro. “During this mission – explains AstroForge – we will demonstrate our purification capabilities with the aim of validating our technology and carrying out extractions in zero gravity. The spacecraft will be launched pre-loaded with a material similar to that of an asteroid,” which the devices on board “will vaporize and separate into its elemental components.” .
The second mission is expected to fly in October 2023 with SpaceX, again in collaboration with OrbAstro and propulsion company Dawn Aerospace. “We will go into deep space to observe the target asteroid in preparation for the first recovery mission,” says AstroForge.
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