Going to the Moon and other planetary bodies in search of natural resources may alleviate critical shortages on Earth.

Vast amounts of the most vital natural resources we use on Earth exist on nearby planetary bodies, practically untouched by humans. 

Water, gases and minerals are on the Moon, as well as comets and asteroids, in large quantities, offering an ambitious option to meet increasing terrestrial demand.

In 1969, rocks were brought back from the Moon and, decades later, two Japanese spacecrafts successfully landed on asteroids and collected dust grains, first in 2005 and again in 2019.

On September 24, a NASA spacecraft — the OSIRIS-REx — will return to Earth with samples from the asteroid Bennu. 

Although space mining technology is still in its infancy, governments and private entities are gearing up now for first-mover advantage. 

The space mining market is estimated to be worth USD$1.99 billion by 2027 although no space mining operations exist as yet.

But the issues surrounding the industry are complex, starting with the technology and high costs. 

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Then there are regulations, policies and ethical questions to consider, involving national or private entities’ right to mine, distribute and sell space resources. 

There are also environmental considerations involving the Earth-based sectors of the industry.

How will mining in space benefit humanity? Will it descend into a Dodge City-style gold rush with outlaws ruling?

Is the technology ready? What is science and what is fiction?

Originally published under Creative Commons by 360info™.

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