• Some asteroids contain trillions of dollars in raw materials like platinum, gold, and cobalt.
  • The US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness act gives companies the rights to materials they extract from asteroids.
  • That makes future asteroid mining missions big business, and some companies are ready for launch within the decade.

Mining raw materials from asteroids hundreds of millions of miles away from Earth may sound like science fiction, but the prospect is edging very close to reality. In fact, multiple companies have sprung up over the past few years with the sole purpose of engineering spacecraft to perform such an ambitious feat.

In 2015, the US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act was passed, giving companies the rights to any materials that they extract from asteroids. The move gave companies that much more incentive to work toward finally mining them, all while revenue potential skyrocketed.

Within the last decade, people in the space industry have started to realize that mining raw materials or even frozen water from asteroids could prove to be an extremely lucrative industry in the near future. According to Asterank, a scientific and economic database of more than 600,000 asteroids, there are about 1,000 asteroids that could contain billions – if not trillions – of dollars in raw materials.

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