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Study predicts future of asteroid mining

Scientists believe that someday humans will be able to mine planets and asteroids for valuable resources.

Scientists believe that someday humans will be able to mine planets and asteroids for valuable resources.

(AP)

A new study suggests that minerals and other valuable resources mined from planets, the moon and asteroids could boost prospects for future spaceports in outer space and even space-based economies.

The potential to harvest water and other natural resources may someday make space a sustainable place to work and live, said the study, released by the International Academy of Astronautics, a France-based organization with space experts from around the world.

“Once we are able to extract water and various minerals from the moon and other heavenly bodies, it will have a tremendous synergistic impact on our ability to explore the solar system and establish a true space economy,” said Dr. George Nield, a member of the group and associate administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Space Mineral Resources study indicates that water will become more efficient to harvest in space than transport from Earth, when human exploration of outer space expands. It also stresses that companies will play a leading role in space industry development and that governments should not be relied on.

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Although the development of space settlements may be at least decades away, this study suggests a roadmap to maximize the chances of success and gives recommendations on policies for harvesting resources.

“We urge the international community to continue engaging and working with the space resource industry to create a better tomorrow for our children,” Rick Tumlinson, chairman of Deep Space Industries, said.

The study was a collaboration of space professionals from 16 nations, said Zhang Zhenjun, secretary general of the China Institute of Space Law. Funding and support were provided by a variety of international organizations, universities and corporations.

nick.shively@latimes.com

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Twitter: @nick_shively


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