It will be one near-miss for man. But a new breed of space entrepreneurs hope it will presage one giant leap for mankind.
When Asteroid 2012-DA14 hurtles past Earth February 15 in what counts as the closest of cosmic calls, U.S. government scientists will be closely tracking its path from NASA’s observatory in the Californian desert.
Not least thanks to the attention of Hollywood, the world’s interest in asteroid fly-bys has until now been focused on the danger of a cataclysmic collision.
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. Deep Space Industries 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.
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Recently, Boeing, Lockheed, the U.S. Air Force and many others have been scrambling because Congress, in a fit of sudden awareness, passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. It requires American-made rocket engines for military flights starting in 2019.
By Stocks & Shares:Google (GOOG) co-founder Larry Page, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, filmmaker James Cameron, and other notable investors are backing a NEA (near earth asteroid) mining venture called Planetary Resources.
In October 2018, a 1,600ft-wide asteroid named Bennu will pass Earth, close enough for Nasa to land a spacecraft on it. Five years later, the craft will return to Earth carrying rock samples that could tell us exactly how planets are formed. But the mission, dubbed OSIRIS-REx, has another purpose: to lay the groundwork for the development of an asteroid-mining industry. Nasa has competition, though.
It may be a while until we see a working space elevator. Google X, the search giant's lab responsible for "moonshot" projects like Google Glass, driverless cars, and Project Loon, has unsuccessfully tried to build a space elevator, Fast Company reports.