In the next century Mankind may have to choose from two options for our supply and usage of some nonrenewable natural resources, such as gold, platinum metals, and fossil fuels: learn to live with diminishing supplies of these materials obtained at ever increasing economic and environmental cost, or reach into difficult places and develop new technologies to give us what we need to sustain economic growth. Either prospect faces formidable technological and economic challenges. Exploitation of asteroids for precious and strategic metals is a possible environmentally friendly remedy for impending shortages of some resources. Certain types of asteroids could completely replace terrestrial sources of platinum metals. Asteroid metal mining may become a 21st-century space industry worth ten to fifty billion dollars annually (1995 dollars). Asteroids could make the United States and other countries self sufficient in many strategic metals, and it could usher new technologies and increase our applications of existing technologies that depend on these metals.
Additional publication details
Market value of asteroidal precious metals in an age of diminishing terrestrial resources
New York, NY, United States
Larger Work Title:
Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space
Proceedings of the 1996 5th International Conference on Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space. Part 2 (of 2)