Space firm AstroForge has stated that it will fly its maiden demonstration flight in 2023, which is a great development for the space sector. The business, which last year secured $13 million in venture capital, wants to be the first one to commercially harvest an asteroid and return elements to Earth.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 will launch the first mission in April 2023 in collaboration with satellite and in-orbit service provider, OrbAstro. An asteroid-like substance will be pre-loaded onto the spaceship, and the refinery payload will evaporate and sort it into its constituent elements.
This mission aims to demonstrate the refining capabilities of AstroForge and verify its technologies in zero gravity. The AstroForge crew will go to deep space on the second mission, which is scheduled to launch in October 2023, using a SpaceX lunar rideshare with Intuitive Machines. In order to prepare for the company’s first recovery mission, its crew will work in collaboration with OrbAstro and the space propulsion firm Dawn Aerospace to examine a target asteroid.
These missions are important for society as well as AstroForge. The business wants to demonstrate that mining asteroids is a feasible, near-term option and not simply a sci-fi pipe dream. AstroForge is close to reaching that objective thanks to relationships with organisations like SpaceX, Intuitive Machines, OrbAstro, and Dawn Aerospace as well as the assistance of top engineers, scientists, and inventors.
The CEO of AstroForge remarked, “We want to thank our investors, partners, families, and fans whose steadfast support has brought us this far. We’re prepared to take off!
With the completion of these two missions, space mining may finally have a future.
Space mining has long been a hot theme in science fiction. A mining colony on Jupiter’s moon Io is seen in the 1981 movie Outland, starring Sean Connery, where the workers gather precious minerals from the asteroid belt.
The Expanse, a science fiction and space opera drama television series, imagines a future in which mankind has colonised the Solar System and the balance of power in politics and the economy is continuously changing. The discovery of a mystery extraterrestrial material termed “protomolecule” on an asteroid, which prompts numerous groups to compete for possession of it, is one of the series’ central narrative themes.
Players assume the role of a planetary explorer in the video game No Man’s Sky, a survival action-adventure game, with the objective of exploring and cataloguing several worlds and their people as well as mining resources.
Since the 1800s, asteroids have been a common theme in science fiction, thanks in large part to the finding of Ceres in 1801. The Titius-Bode law’s prediction that the asteroid belt would include the remains of a planet that had been destroyed was a well-liked hypothesis in the 1800s.
Early science fiction often portrayed the asteroid belt as a perilous area that must be carefully avoided in order to prevent crashing with asteroids.
This is shown in the short tale Marooned off Vesta by Isaac Asimov from 1939, in which the protagonist’s spacecraft becomes stuck on an asteroid after being struck by debris. Later works, with the exception of the Star Wars movies, acknowledged that the asteroids are quite far apart and do not represent much of a threat to spacecraft.
Astroid mining may be seen in works such as the 1932 short tale The Asteroid of Gold by Clifford D. Simak, which depicted the asteroid belt as a celestial equivalent of the Klondike Gold Rush. Asteroid mining is also discussed in more recent works, such as Ben Bova’s Grand Tour series book The Precipice, published in 2001.
Science fiction authors often use asteroids as homes or space stations. As in Misfit, a short tale by Robert A. Heinlein from 1939, this is often accomplished by hollowing them out.
A rogue asteroid threatens to strike with Earth in Arthur C. Clarke’s 1993 book “The Hammer of God,” and they are further weaponized in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s 1985 novel Footfall.