whilst the private sector is pushing ahead with these ventures NASA is still doing research in this field, a article on this site http://newsmoves.com describes how they think there will be a day when robotic mining operations are able to gather resources like precious metals and even clean energy from asteroids.
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SN Blog | Another Commercial Asteroid-prospecting Venture Announces Coming-out Presser
WASHINGTON -- A new company called Deep Space Industries will announce “[t]he world’s first fleet of commercial asteroid-prospecting spacecraft” Jan. 22 at California's Santa Monica Museum of Flying.
“Deep Space is pursuing an aggressive schedule and plans on prospecting, harvesting and processing asteroids for use in space and to benefit Earth,” the company said in a media advisory sent to reporters.
The company is led by David Gump, a veteran of long-shot commercial space ventures, including LunaCorp, which aimed to put a privately funded rover on the Moon. As president of LunaCorp, Gump facilitated the first television commercial filmed on the international space station -- a Father’s Day spot for RadioShack showing gifts being delivered to the crew.
Other Gump ventures include Transformational Space Corp., and Google Lunar X Prize contender Astrobotic Technology Inc.
Deep Space Industries is not the first private-venture to set its sites on asteroid mining.
Planetary Resources Inc., co-founded by X Prize Foundation Chairman Peter Diamandis and Space Adventures founder Eric Anderson, unveiled plans last April for developing small, low-cost space telescopes as a first step toward finding and eventually mining resource-rich asteroids.
Long before Planetary Resources kicked things off with a shanked Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, SpaceDev burst onto the scene in 1997 as a penny-stock company seeking to raise private capital for the Near Earth Asteroid Prospector mission but succeeded only in raising eyebrows at the Security and Exchange Commission, which filed an administrative proceeding against the Poway, Calif.-based company alleging fraud. A settlement was eventually reached. SpaceDev went on to build a NASA-funded microsatellite and supply rocket motors for Paul Allen’s X Prize-winning SpaceShipOne suborbital spacecraft before being acquired in 2008 by Sierra Nevada Corp., one of three companies currently developing crewed spacecraft with NASA’s financial assistance (Boeing and SpaceX are the other two).
But back to Deep Space Industries. Gump’s Linkedin profile says he has been chief executive of the company since August, but provides no additional details about the venture.
The media advisory than landed in my inbox Jan. 17 says that the host of the Science Channel’s Meteorite Men series, Geoff Notkin “wiill introduce the Deep Space founders - who include leaders in the space field - and will preview an animated video showing the new spacecraft and the company’s other plans, including a breakthrough process for manufacturing in space.
“Coffee and doughnuts will be served.”