Nothing says apocalypse like an unaccountable corporation freely bringing interstellar objects back to the planet, but that’s exactly what one company intends to do in 2023.
AstroForge announced Tuesday that it will launch 6U CubeSat, a miniaturized satellite, into the low Earth orbit in April in order to test and refine its technology to the point where it can land on near-Earth asteroids and mine them for materials, according to a press release from the company.
If successful, AstroForge is going to catch a ride with the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch in partnership with OrbAstro, the release noted. A second mission will then occur in October, also with SpaceX, on a lunar rideshare with Intuitive Machines that will go by a near Earth asteroid to collect data on its composition.
KAY SMYTHE: “If today was your last day on Earth, wouldn’t you want to shower the people you love with affection?” https://t.co/doiloVsafh
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) January 25, 2023
“Both of these missions are monumental not only for AstroForge, but for society at large,” AstroForge team members Matt Gialich and Jose Acain wrote. “We’re proving step by step that asteroid mining isn’t a far-out sci-fi fantasy but a viable method to protect and preserve our Earth.”
The partnership with SpaceX and OrbAstro (who built the technology) confuses me. AstroForge is using another company’s technology to do the mining, and is hitching a lift on one of Elon Musk’s rockets. Are they just a middleman, or have the team members contributed something that allows the OrbAstro technology to work with SpaceX, etc?
According to an interview with SpaceNews, Gialich explained that AstroForge has outsourced a lot of its work, and so just focused on the development of instruments and refining the technology.
These are just some things that just don’t add up to me right now, but it might be due to my ignorance on the cost of this type of scientific development. How is a company that only closed a $13 million seed round supposed to mine a freaking asteroid? NASA has literally billions more than AstroForge, and they’ve not mined an asteroid yet. (RELATED: NASA Successfully Crashes Into Asteroid. What’s Next?)
Then again, NASA has somehow managed to alter the trajectory of an asteroid while also admitting that they don’t track a lot of smaller rocks headed directly for our vulnerable little planet. While some are concerned that mining an asteroid could pose significant risks to those of us on planet Earth, the fact we don’t even track many asteroids that are on a direct collision course with Earth should concern you more.
Gialich and other AstroForge team members did not immediately return requests for comment or questions from the Daily Caller. There is no contact form on the company site, and the digital presence of the organization is inherently limited.
Final images from NASA's DART spacecraft prior to impact
NASA successfully plunged the DART probe into the Dimorphos asteroid Monday, completely obliterating the technology.
Thankfully, the entire point of the DART probe was to utterly destroy itself by smashing into the small Dimorphos asteroid. The purpose of the program was to see whether us mere Earthlings could divert the course of an asteroid so that we can potentially avoid a catastrophic collision in the future.
The DART probe launched in November 2021 made impact with the Dimorphos asteroid early Tuesday evening, according to the BBC. The camera attached to the probe sent back an image every second until the probe crashed into the asteroid’s surface, the outlet continued.
NASA’s DART spacecraft launches through the Vandenberg fog in November, 2021.
Today it successfully hit an asteroid! pic.twitter.com/75VDERy4vS
— Michael Baylor (@nextspaceflight) September 26, 2022
The exact area of impact was only 17m off the asteroid‘s center , leading the control room at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory to launch into cheers, the BBC noted.
The next stage of the research is to ensure the experiment truly worked — whether the DART probe was successful in nudging the trajectory of Dimorphos, the BBC continued. Despite the success of impact, the mission has not yet achieved its purpose. (RELATED: Scientists Stunned By What They’re Seeing In New Images Of Deep Space)
“We’re embarking on a new era of humankind, an era in which we potentially have the capability to protect ourselves from something like a dangerous hazardous asteroid impact. What an amazing thing; we’ve never had that capability before,” NASA director of planetary science Dr. Lori Glaze told reporters, the BBC noted.