Faster than light travel, instant healing of bones, energy shielding, and space mined resources; these all may be taken from science fiction, but as technology continues to expand, they become more and more likely. Perhaps prime among them, space mining is something being accepted as not an “if,” but rather a “when.” In a recent study released by the International Academy of Astronautics, it was found that resources from space could serve as a way to enrich the future — and it might happen sooner than you think.
Space mineral resources, or SMR for short, can refer to all variety of different resources that come from outside the earth. One of the most sought after options is water, which is believed to exist on quite a few other planets and moons around the galaxy. Art Dula, the co-editor of this study, stated, “This study is not about how to leverage space mineral resources, but rather how best to leverage them.” Contrary to many previous approaches, Dula and his colleages suggest SMR can be used sooner than we think, presenting an interesting opportunity for third world countries. By mining them now, they can be used to even the playing field somewhat, allowing poorer countries access to new resources.
Though the infrastructure may not be in place yet, this unprecedented study went into detail on how it could be quickly implemented and utilized. The authors actually created a roadmap, which they claim could be used in case of a large-scale natural disaster to provide a ready-made plan for acquiring SMR. As a result, many in the scientific community see this as opening up a brand new frontier.
One of the biggest things this study put forth was the concept of setting up a legal environment that could help regulate the use and mining of SMR. Since one of the problems many scientists perceive on earth is we will diminish our resources, they are working to set up a sustainable system that will allow the successful use of these resources in a more responsible fashion. Drawing from professionals around the world, with 16 different nations represented, allowed this study to take a more in depth look at the issues going forward.
Of course, the biggest suggestion might sound somewhat familiar to science fiction fans. As we move forward without technology, we unlock new possibilities in space exploration. Having the ability to mine water from asteroids could lead to a much less expensive way to ensure the establishment of bases in space. This would set up the foundation for a space economy, something that sounds like it came straight from a science fiction book.
Are there any other implications you see from this use of space mining? How soon do you think we will be seeing SMR being traded around the world?