The Engineer Q&A: Space mining

With our own planet’s resources under ever-growing pressure and competition, could the mining of asteroids and even other planets provide a more sustainable path for development?           

For our latest readers’ Q&A we’ve lined up a panel of experts that includes some of the leading academics looking at the possibilities of extra-terrestrial mining and two of the companies that hope to develop the technology and expertise to make it happen.

It’s worth remembering that we’re still in the earliest days of space mining: those involved have yet to determine what all the challenges are, never mind how to overcome them.

But if you have a question about how these companies are approaching preparations for space mining, what problems they might encounter along the way or how they think they might make operations commercially viable, then send us a question by using the comment box below.

Answering your queries will be:

  • Ian Crawford, professor of planetary science and astrobiology at Birkbeck, University of London, an expert on space exploration who has helped develop instruments to look for minerals on the moon.
  • David Gump, CEO of Deep Space Industries, a US firm hoping to send launch several small spacecraft to look for suitable asteroids and developing microgravity manufacturing technologies.
  • Planetary Resources, another US firm whose investors include Google bosses Larry Page and Eric Schmidt and film director James Cameron and which is developing a space telescope to seek prospective asteroids to mine.
  • Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an expert on planets outside our solar system who has advised Planetary Resources.

The question session has now closed. We’ll publish the answers next month online and in our digital magazine.