FINAL FRONTIER – Deep Space Industries (DSI) has announced its intention to fly the world’s first commercial interplanetary mining mission. Its Prospector-1™ vehicle will rendezvous with a near-Earth asteroid to determine its potential resource value as a source of water.
The Prospector-1 mission is a step in DSI’s plan to harvest and supply in-space resources to support the growing space economy. The company recently partnered with the government of Luxembourg to build and fly Prospector-X™, to test key technologies for a low cost exploration spacecraft. The first Prospector-X is scheduled to launch in 2017.
Prospector-1 is a small spacecraft (50 kg when fueled) that strikes what DSI believes will be the ideal balance between cost and performance. In addition to the radiation tolerant payloads and avionics, all DSI spacecraft use the Comet™ water propulsion system, which expels superheated water vapor to generate thrust. Water will be the first asteroid mining product, so the ability to use water as propellant will provide future DSI spacecraft with the capability to refuel in space.
When it arrives at the target, the Prospector-1 spacecraft will map the surface and subsurface of the asteroid, taking visual and infrared imagery and mapping overall water content, down to approximately meter-level depth. When this initial science campaign is complete, Prospector-1 will use its water thrusters to attempt touchdown on the asteroid, measuring the target’s geophysical and geotechnical characteristics.
More detailed information about the Prospector program, including the Prospector-X (eXperimental) and Prospector-1 missions, and the DSI technologies that are making these missions possible, can be found on the company’s website, www.DeepSpaceIndustries.com/Missions.