Launching startup schedules into space to test asteroid mining and ore refining in orbit

Something small: A space mining startup called AstroForge intends to mine asteroids for their metal content. The company has two missions planned for 2023 to test the project’s feasibility. The first will demonstrate zero-gravity refinement while in orbit, and the second will fling around the moon to study its target rock in deep space.

AstroForge’s first mission is specific for the month of april You’ll take off on a SpaceX Transporter-7 rocket. The flight will show investors that the company can mine and refine ore in space. The team will use a 6U CubeSat loaded with “asteroid-like” materials to test their techniques in zero gravity. It has already proven that its filters can operate in a vacuum.

AstroForge has no set date for its second mission other than later this year. Therefore, the company intends to enter deep space and collect data from the surface of an asteroid.

AstroForge has advisors from several universities, the Planetary Science Institute, and NASA help identify exploitable space rocks. team recently published A study with the Colorado School of Mines that looked at the mineral content of asteroids and how they might be mined and sold on Earth or used in space.

The question the study left out was, do metal-rich asteroids have an identifiable surface texture? The company believes they do. His second stay in space appears to confirm this theory by approaching a specifically targeted asteroid and studying its surface with high-resolution images.

The AstroForge refinery is operating in a vacuum on Earth.

Of course, the company is not reveal The location of the asteroid he will be looking for for obvious reasons. Matt Gialich, CEO of AstroForge, will only say “It’s closer to home than, say, a rock in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.”

“Asteroid belts, they’re so far away, they’re going to take us like 14-year round trips,” Gialic told TechCrunch. “It’s something more suited to research and exploration… This is not a viable business case for us.”

The AstroForge rock you’re considering is only an 11-month journey. It will launch its vehicle into lunar orbit with a Houston space startup called Intuitive Machines. From there, you will make the final trip to the chosen asteroid.

Although it’s not off the planet yet, AstroForge is already working on planning its next two missions. The third is the landing of a vehicle on an asteroid, and the fourth, the purification and transportation of platinum to Earth.

It’s a very daunting task, but Gialic thinks his team has figured it out.

“We have to find some way to get the regolith out of the asteroid and process it in our refineries, and we think we’ve solved that for the target asteroid,” he said.

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