Near-Earth Asteroid Mining

Shane D. Ross
Control and Dynamical Systems, California Institute of Technology
MC 107-81, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA. E-mail:


The near-Earth asteroids are likely targets for resources to support space industrialization, as they appear to be the least expensive source of certain needed raw materials. Furthermore, exploitation of asteroids for precious metals and semiconducting elements is a possible environmentally friendly remedy for impending terrestrial shortages of these resources.

This paper discusses the resources available from NEAs, as well as the technical engineering aspects of possible mining project designs, including a survey of mission plans, mining and extraction technqiues that may be used.

The concept of Net Present Value is briefly introduced as the appropriate measure to determine the technical economic feasibility of a hypothetical NEA mining operation, just as it is the appropriate measure for the feasibility of a proposed terrestrial mining venture.

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