What do Ted Cruz, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Goldman Sachs all have in common? They predict that the world’s first trillionaire will make their innumerable fortune in space. While Cruz is not precisely sure how this will come to be, Tyson and Goldman Sachs believe that the gateway to this immense wealth is through mining asteroids.
The reason why space mining is so sought after is due to what is happening here on Earth. Based on known terrestrial reserves and estimates of the growing consumption in countries, essential elements needed for modern industry and food production (such as lead, phosphorus and gold) could be exhausted within the next 60 years. The space minerals extracted from the asteroids could be transported back to Earth to supply the ever-growing demand and any other precious metals such as platinum can be sold for a profit. If you’re wondering how much these asteroids are worth, Asterank, a scientific and economic database of over 600,000 asteroids, lists over 500 asteroids that are worth more than $100 trillion. Additionally, according to NASA, the minerals located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter hold enough wealth that it is equivalent to $100 billion for every person on Earth. However, the untold riches in asteroids are worth much more in space than on Earth.
The exploration and colonisation of the rest of our solar system are feats that have piqued humanity’s interest for a long time. Unfortunately, for a spacecraft to travel to the depths of the Universe, a lot of fuel is needed and it is not feasible to ship the fuel to the spacecraft often due to the use of fuel and the expense with the 1967 Apollo mission requiring nearly 950,000 gallons of fuel in total. Luckily, asteroids could be the answer. Water can be found on asteroids as well as other celestial bodies such as Mars and the Moon, and water can be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen – two of the primary elements in rocket fuel. Therefore, asteroids could be used as pit stops and be used to refuel spacecraft. Additionally, the minerals found on asteroids could be used to create tools and help build the foundations to the structures that will help in the habitation of humans in space, although that is still a while away.