The Asia Miner

JUL-SEP 2017

The ASIA Miner - Reporting Important Issues to Mining Companies in the Asia Pacific Region

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Volume 14 • Issue 3 | 2017 | ASIA Miner | 11 "What is inevitable is that where people are going to go, they will need things to live in a healthy, safe and happy manner. Central to what we are doing at Planetary Resources is that we're getting resources close to where people will use them, just as mining and energy companies strive to do on Earth. "We're not about bringing things back to sell them into the market or about bringing them back so we can disrupt supply chains in the existing economy – it is about expanding the economy. "The resource we are developing is one we see as fundamental to any business activity in space – as fundamental as computers are to the internet, as websites are to business on the internet. Just as the internet is a medium for commerce and not a place, space is a new location where people will do things, raise families and explore their passions and hobbies - but the vital resource is water," Chris Lewicki says. Water in space "On Earth we know why iron, aluminium, copper, gold and hydro- carbons are important, these things are very clear," he says. "How- ever, if you are going on 'walkabout', what is important to sustain life? You can go a while without eating but you can't go too long without water. "Water is important in space for the obvious reasons of supporting our biology, but it takes on other interesting roles because of its location. "It becomes useful for cosmic radiation protection. If you spend too much time outside the protective bubble of the Earth's mag- netosphere, you increase your likelihood of getting cancer. In the same way you can store nuclear fuel in the bottom of a pool and be protected from radiation, water can be used in space to protect you from radiation." "However, the most interesting use," Chris Lewicki says, "is look- ing at water as a molecule of hydrogen and oxygen, which are com- bined to produce rocket fuel. "You don't throw away your car when you run out of fuel, but that's what we have done with rockets and everything else sent into space. When the fuel runs out it is discarded, despite costing billions of dollars. The reason for the cost is that just one is built and it runs off a single fuel tank – it can't be serviced and reused. "If we were able to refuel them, you could think of going into space as you would going across the continent and then, before you go across the ocean, topping up and continuing your journey. This is what we need in space as it essentially enables transportation." The Goldman Sachs report states that the storage of water as a fuel could be a 'game changer' by creating orbital gas stations. Planetary Resources' CEO adds to this statement by saying that when the motor vehicle became popular, roads were built and ser- vices sprung up alongside the road to cater for the car and travel- ers. "We have seen this whole story before and it is being repeated with electric vehicles. You just have to look at the fundamental eco- nomic demand of the way people live, work and play, and what they need to support them in doing that." Drawing water from asteroids "While the psychological barrier to mining asteroids is high, the ac- tual financial and technological barriers are far lower," according to Goldman Sachs. The method used by Planetary Resources for extracting and refin- ing rocket fuels from asteroids will depend on the specific compo- sition of the target asteroid. This requires an up-close investigation with the company's Arkyd prospectors, one of which was launched in 2015 to start testing sensor technology with another launch to take place this year to continue the work. These satellites, which are the size of a cereal box and packed with sensors, are helping Planetary Resources to validate the tech- nology that will eventually characterise asteroids and identify which ones have adequate amounts of ice and precious metals so the resources can be mined. A rendering of Planetary Resources' Arkyd 6 spacecraft in orbit. The Arkyd 6 is equipped with the first commercially licensed mid-wave infrared imager, an essential tool for detecting water on asteroids. Planetary Resources and the Government of Luxembourg have finalised a 25 million Euro investment and cooperation agreement with the first com- mercial asteroid prospecting mission to launch by 2020. Planetary Resourc- es' president and CEO Chris Lewicki and Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Min- ister Etienne Schneider celebrate the partnership.

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