Deep Space Industries 'Prospector-1' will evaluate an asteroid for mining

Deep Space Industries has announced plans to send its Prospector-1 spacecraft to a near-Earth asteroid in the next handful of years, doing so to evaluate the asteroid for potential mining missions. The company hopes to one day mine materials from such celestial objects, something that will one day be a major part of the so-called space economy. The Prospector-1 will be building upon the company's upcoming Prospector-X mission, a low-Earth orbit project for testing technologies that may be used in future space missions.

This will be the world's first commercial interplanetary mining missions, according to Deep Space Industries. Before Prospector-1 heads out into space, the company will have Prospector-X launch next year; that mission is being done in partnership with the government of Luxembourg. Assuming it is successful, it will help the company identify low-cost tech for space exploration ships.

Prospector-1 itself is described as being a small spacecraft — including a full fuel tank, it only weighs 50 kilograms. That light weight will help keep operation costs down. The spacecraft includes Deep Space Industries' Comet water propulsion system, using water vapor to generate thrust, the idea being that water mined from asteroids will be able to refuel future spacecraft that use this technology.

A team of experts selected by DSI will choose which asteroid Prospector-1 will land on — at this time, it doesn't appear one has been identified. The spacecraft will map the asteroid's water content when it arrives, as well as taking pictures including infrared images. After doing this, the spacecraft will land on the asteroid and will take additional measurements.

SOURCE:

Deep Space Industries