Deep Space Industries to fly probe to asteroid

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The competition heats up: A private company, Deep Space Industries (DSI), has announced plans to send the first privately-built probe to an asteroid before the end of the decade.

Recently, Deep Space Industries and its partner, the government of Luxembourg, announced plans to build and fly Prospector-X™, an experimental mission to low-Earth orbit that will test key technologies needed for low-cost exploration spacecraft. This precursor mission is scheduled to launch in 2017. Then, before the end of this decade, Prospector-1 will travel beyond Earth’s orbit to begin the first space mining exploration mission.

Note that this funding is another example of the Luxembourg government’s effort to invest in commercial space, for profit.

If all goes as planned, the rest of this decade should be very exciting. We will have a private mission to the Moon, a private mission to an asteroid, and a private mission to Mars. All will cost pennies compared to what the government spends. All will be built and launched quickly, compared to how long the government takes. And all will be for profit, which is certainly not what the government is interested in.


One comment

  • Tom Billings

    I note that DSI’s Prospector Mission is mentioned on their website, and given a nice description. At the bottom of that page you link to there is a link to a DSI description of 2016 HO3. I had thought Dr. Lewis would be interested in it. If a statement in a comment on an article about 2016 HO3 bears out, that a round trip to it would only be 5 months long, then this may be their best candidate target for their first mission.

    Since DSI emphasizes water so much, the presumed long residence of 2016 HO3 in near-Earth orbit may rule it out, but its position as a close quasi-moon of Earth is deeply tempting. If it can be used by DSI, or others, then we may see a blossoming of the sort Jeff Bezos spoke of. Its effects on ULA’s vision would be spectacular.

    I do wonder how it might affect SpaceX plans for Mars as well. Shuttling MCTs between an EML-1 facility and Mars orbit, using materials from 2016 HO3, and only launching passengers from Earth to EML-1, would be far cheaper, and move large numbers of people faster, than everything being launched from Earth. We all wait for data on composition, however. Prospector-1 will carry a neutron spectrometer to tell us about that.

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