NASA announced that it’s just under 100 days away from launching a spacecraft designed to study an asteroid potentially worth $10 quintillion.
The space agency’s Jet Propulsion Lab said on Tuesday it recently completed a comprehensive test of the flight software and installed it on the spacecraft. That cleared a key hurdle that earlier caused the probe to miss its original 2022 launch date.
Known as 16 Psyche, the 173-mile-wide asteroid is thought to be made up of gold, iron and nickel. Weighing 2.72 × 10^19 kg, its ore has been estimated to be worth around 1 followed by 18 zeros in dollars. In 2020, NASA announced a collaboration with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to reach the metal-rich body, Business Insider reported.
Companies have a legal right to any materials mined from celestial bodies, through the 2015 US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act. And firms have already sprung up to test technology that could theoretically make this work.
NASA claims its mission is scientific and geared toward learning more about planetary cores and how planets form. The spacecraft will launch in October on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, and head on a six-year trek to the Main Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Once there, the satellite will orbit the asteroid for 26 months, studying and photographing the body for its history and mineral composition.
While NASA focuses on 16 Psyche, the agency previously noted that the belt it resides in is full of ore-rich asteroids, together worth $700 quintillion. In fact, Psyche is not the most valuable one, as it’s surpassed by Davida, a $27 quintillion asteroid.
Though a potentially lucrative business for the future, the inflow of valuable minerals from space may not actually produce a bunch of billionaires. That’s because a sudden supply glut would drive metal prices down.
https://financialtribune.com/articles/sci-tech/119297/nasa-to-study-asteroid-loaded-with-10-quintillion-worth-of-metals NASA to Study Asteroid Loaded With $10 Quintillion Worth of Metals