During an interview back in April, 2015, Neil deGrasse Tyson had said that the world‘s first trillionaire is going to be the person to start exploiting asteroids for their metallic contents. Now, it seems, this might actually happen.
On Wednesday of this month, Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneinder said his country plans to pursue the mining of the roughly 13,000 asteroids found close to Earth for iron, nickel, cobalt, gold, platinum and other metals.
Depending on the size of an individual asteroid, Schneider has estimated a net profit of around 195 billion U.S. dollars.
Even though even a single mining trip is set to cost around 2.6 billion dollars, just one medium sized asteroid’s worth of platinum could be more than the entire GDP of the United Kingdom.
“Our aim is to open access to a wealth of previously unexplored mineral resources on lifeless rocks hurling through space, without damaging natural habitats,” said Schneider. “We will support the long-term economic development of new, innovative activities in the space and satellite industries as a key high-tech sector for Luxembourg.”
Wednesday’s motion came after the U.S. passed the SPACE Act of 2015 in November, declaring that any space rock brought back from space by an American citizen will belong to the U.S.
The plan to mine asteroids for metal was apparently brewing since August, 2013 when Schneider visited a NASA research centre, trying to convince the two main players to settle in Luxembourg.
The companies in question are Planetary Resources, founded in 2012 by a group of technology experts, such as the Google founder Larry Page, and Deep Space Industries (DSI), a Californian company, considered to be the leader in the development of space tourism.
According to DSI representatives, the industry is already attracting 2 billion dollars a year in private investment. The company launched a subsidiary last year in Luxembourg and praised its government for embracing the future.
“There are moments when the world changes,” said DSI Chairman Rick Tumlinson in a statement. “By joining the U.S. and private citizens and companies who are moving outwards into space, Luxembourg is making this time in history one of those moments. The citizens of Luxembourg should be proud.”