One day we could build our own ‘Star Wars’ inspired Death Star, using asteroids which contain the necessary raw materials, according to a NASA engineer.
Brian Muirhead, chief engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that an asteroid could provide the metals that are needed to build a real-life Death Star.
In 2012, almost 35,000 people signed a petition in which they asked the White House to start building a ‘Star Wars’ Death Star by 2016. However, the petition was turned down, since White House officials stated that the construction of a Death Star would cost around $850,000,000,000,000,000 or more, making it too expensive.
Even so, scientists and corporations appear to have a growing interest in asteroids.
For instance, NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) – which has Mr. Muirhead as director – wants to take the asteroids that are in the close vicinity of Earth and make them orbit around the moon. Astronauts could study the asteroids more easily, if they were placed into orbit around the moon.
The Asteroid Redirect Mission – that was announced in March 2015 – will be launched in 2020. With the help of this mission, scientists are hoping to reduce the astronauts’ reliance on planet Earth only. According to them, the expedition to Mars would be less costly if the cis-lunar space (the area within the Moon’s orbit) was used for supplies and refuelling.
Planetary Resources, an American company that develops and deploys technologies for asteroid mining to expand Earth’s natural resource base, has sent exploratory satellites into space. In July, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) gave Planetary Resources two grants to help further their research, which includes: launching a satellite in 2018 to study an asteroid, and creating a 3-D printed propulsion system.
Chris Lewicki, chief executive officer (CEO) of Planetary Resources, said that the company mines asteroids for potential minerals and water. In the next ten years there will be an in-space refuelling economy, according to Lewicki.
The Congress passed the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act in November, which states that only private companies are allowed to mine asteroids. It also claims ownership to any raw materials that may be found on asteroids.
Eric C. Anderson, co-founder of Planetary Resources, said that the new legislation establishes a supportive framework that will promote the sustained development of space.
Image Source: space