A football field-sized asteroid that astronomers predict will miss the Earth by just 17,000 miles on Friday has an estimated value of $195 billion in metals and other extractable materials, according to the celestial mining startup Deep Space Industries
Known as 2012 DA14, the fast approaching asteroid will be coming closer to hitting the planet than any object of its size has before
However, even if asteroid mining was a proven concept, 2012 DA14 would require too much energy to chase down due to the space rock's tilt toward the earth, NetworkWorld.com reported
. Another complicating factor is that DSI has yet to secure a rocket and spacecraft for its lofty expeditions.
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Experts at DSI assume 2012 DA14 contains at least 5 percent recoverable water, which could be used as rocket fuel in space and might be worth as much as $65 billion. Also, if 10 percent of its mass is comprised of iron, nickel and other metals, that would amount to an additional $130 billion in value.
As technological advances give way to more readily available reusable launch vehicles, prices for such material would likely drop significantly, said DSI.
Founded in January with the initial intent of harvesting water and minerals from near-earth asteroids by 2015, DSI plans to pursue a long term goal of developing inhabitable conditions on orbiting space rocks.
"Using resources harvested in space is the only way to afford permanent space development," said Deep Space CEO David Gump. "Interplanetary mining could make human space travel more reasonable, as refueling spacecraft could happen far from planetary surfaces. Thus, spacecraft could travel farther and more often."
"[The asteroids] can be like the Iron Range of Minnesota was for the Detroit car industry last century — a key resource located near where it was needed," he said. "In this case, metals and fuel from asteroids can expand the in-space industries of this century. That is our strategy."
According to Gump, more than 900 new asteroids pass near Earth every year.
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