AstroForge, a startup focused on asteroid mining, wants to start its work later this year. The first launch should take place in April, with a SpaceX rocket, and will test a technique to refine platinum from a sample of asteroid-like material. The second should happen in October and will look for some near-Earth asteroid for mining.
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Announced last year, the missions have the overall objective of reducing the high costs involved in extracting platinum group metals from Earth. Yes, the idea is to extract them from asteroids in space.
The company also hopes that this process will help reduce pollutant emissions, released during the mining of rare elements on Earth, as it does not bring material to our planet for refinement. “We will do the refinement on the asteroid itself,” explained Matthew Gialich, CEO of the company.
Afterwards, AstroForge plans to launch a fully commercial mission to go well beyond Earth’s gravitational influence. For this, the company wants to “hitch a ride” on the Intuitive Machines lunar lander, which will be launched to the Moon by SpaceX. When arriving at our natural satellite, the AstroForge spacecraft will continue its journey in search of an asteroid of interest for mining. The company has not revealed potential candidates to be mined — and is unlikely to do so until it completes mining.
Everything going well with these first two flights, AstroForge has plans to launch a third mission, with the objective of landing a spacecraft on the identified asteroid. So, plans are already underway for a fourth mission that, in addition to landing, will extract and refine the metals to then bring them to Earth.