A Gold Rush…In Space

This thing is an asteroid; a big 20 mile long rock floating around in space. It’s called Eros and it hangs out near Mars.

Not much to look at. Pretty boring right?

What if I told you there’s $30 trillion of gold in that thing? That’s more gold than has ever been mined in human history. That’s twice the size of the U.S. economy.

It’s true, and it gets even better. This little hunk of space rock is loaded with thousands of tons of other valuable metals such as platinum, zinc, silver, iron, aluminum, and all kinds of other stuff.

And that’s just one asteroid. There are millions of these things floating around our solar system. They’re not all as jam-packed full of goodness as Eros, but so what? Many of them are.

Can you imagine the first company, or the first billionaire, who actually builds a spacecraft, flys to one of these asteroids, and mines it? An expensive and risky thing, sure. But can you imagine these guys coming back to Earth packing trillions of dollars worth of gold?

Makes one think, doesn’t it?

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  • Korg
    Posted at 01:37 pm, 4th October 2014

    There are a lot of futurists/transhumanists/science fiction fans already talking about this. But well, nobody has real plans to work on it so far. Getting the metals back is a bit hard apparently.

    And even then. Dropping it on earth would also be hard. Doubt we humans are ever going to pull it off, but if we get into space habitats and stuff like that. The economy/money part of it will be pretty interesting.

  • Caleb Jones
    Posted at 02:47 pm, 4th October 2014

    You’re right. If someone brought home $5 trillion worth of gold, what would that do to the market price of gold?

  • Alejandro
    Posted at 03:21 pm, 4th October 2014

    Well, the amount of metals and minerals in the earth is finite, and even with 100% recycling, it seems like at some point humanity will have to start mining asteroids for raw materials. It should be interesting.

    It seems like the asteroid is way too far for actual mining. The best thing to do would be to alter its trajectory somehow and dropping it on earth. If its too dangerous maybe they could drop it on the moon first so the impact would absorb most of the kinetic energy, then try to drop it on earth.

  • Alvin
    Posted at 08:16 am, 16th October 2014

    Elon Musk is the first of many entrepreneurs to venture into space. This will begin to happen as soon as economies of scale reduce the cost/kilogram of getting things into space.

  • Steven C.
    Posted at 07:25 pm, 9th August 2020

    The distance to an asteroid is less important than you think.  It makes more sense to refine ore on the asteroid; collect this together; mount a mass-driver; use the mine tailings to propel the valuable metals to an Earth interception orbit; and then adjust the payload into Earth orbit.  It makes less sense to move the entire asteroid towards the Earth; and even less sense to impact it on the moon.  As for impacting an entire asteroid into the Earth, do I really have to explain why that’s a terrible idea?

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