Photo: Deep Space Industries
As Earth’s precious resources run low, some companies are looking skyward to replenish our planet’s supply of rare metals and other key elements. A new firm called Deep Space Industries just announced plans to launch a fleet of small spacecraft in 2015 to scope out potential asteroid mining targets. These probes, called FireFlies, would return to Earth with samples.
The next step would be to send bigger spacecraft capable of harvesting metals, like gold and platinum, and water from the asteroids.
More details will be announced at a press conference in Santa Monica, California, today at 1 p.m. on the East Coast. Watch the live webcast here.
Deep Space is not the first firm to enter the asteroid-mining race.
Last April, Planetory Resources, a company backed by the Google founders and James Cameron announced their own plans to make “trillions” by mining asteroids.
Asteroid mining is controversial.
Although a report prepared by the Keck Institute for Space Studies found that new technologies have made it possible to identify, capture and return a 500-ton asteroid to high lunar orbit, many question the economic feasibility of such a venture.
The cost of retrieving just one asteroid would be around $2.6 billion, according to the report.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.