Deep Space Industries
|Founded||January 22, 2013|
|Founder||Rick N. Tumlinson
|Headquarters||Mountain View, California, United States|
|Rick N. Tumlinson, Chairman
Daniel Faber, CEO
John S. Lewis, Chief Scientist
|Products||FireFly 1, 2, 3
DragonFly 1, 2 3
|Footnotes / references
Deep Space Industries, or DSI, is an American privately-held company with global operations, operating in the space technology and resources sectors. The company is developing spacecraft technologies that are needed for asteroid mining, and is currently selling satellites that use these technologies. DSI is expecting to make in-space materials, extracted from asteroids, commercially available in the early 2020s, include space-based refueling, power, asteroid processing, and manufacturing.
DSI was formally announced on January 22, 2013 and currently has three spacecraft and patent-pending microgravity manufacturing technologies under development. According to David Gump, chief executive officer, speaking at the company's launch in Santa Monica, California, another early goal of the company is to refuel communications satellites that contain a refueling interface. He also foresees NASA as a potential customer, with DSI fueling manned and robotic Mars missions in low Earth orbit before they set off for the red planet. Eventually, DSI plans to construct large communications platforms and space-based-solar-power satellites. Long-term plans envision the development of space colonies and vehicles from asteroid material. [dated info]
Deep Space Industries won a contract to design a bitcoin spacecraft and associated constellation to broadcast the latest completed bitcoin block in April 2014. NASA awarded the company two contracts for analysis and advice on the space agency's Asteroid Redirect Mission in June 2014.
In December 2014, DSI announced a "mothership" spacecraft designed to deliver up to a dozen nanosats to trajectories that are beyond Earth orbit for applications such as exploring distant asteroids.
Spacecraft and technologies
The first spacecraft proposed by Deep Space Industries, the 25 kg (55 lb) FireFly, is designed to visit asteroids and do a mineral survey, in advance of mining. Constructed using inexpensive CubeSat components, FireFly share rockets with much larger communications satellites in order to reduce costs. DSI's second planned satellite, known as the DragonFly, is predicted by the company to launch starting in 2018 to bring up to 150 kilograms (330 lb) of asteroid material to the surface of Earth. A third design was proposed in 2014: a DSI "mothership" that could carry up to a dozen nanosats to beyond Earth orbits. This larger craft would be approximately 0.91 m × 0.46 m (3 ft × 1.5 ft) and mass about 150 kilograms (330 lb). The smaller probe sats that could be carried would be approximately 15 cm (6 in) cubes. The mothership would provide deep space communication capability with Earth for the entire swarm of smallsats.
By 2023, DSI hopes to begin actively mining asteroids for their metals and water. Water may be split into hydrogen and oxygen,to be used in propellant depots supplying interplanetary spacecraft on long journeys with rocket fuel. Precious metals such as platinum-group metals mined from the asteroids may be brought to Earth for further processing and sale, whereas other metals could be used to create large communications platforms or space-based solar power plants. These may initially be used in disaster-stricken areas and military bases before they are used for clean power and communications across the planet.
In order to aid in the processing of metals from asteroids, Deep Space Industries has developed a 3D printer known as the MicroGravity Foundry, which is, in the words of company co-founder Stephen Covey, "the first 3D printer that creates high-density, high-strength metal components even in zero gravity". The conceptual MGF-3 Series is planned for in space as an exterior module rack attachment. Future versions of this technology, represented by the MGF-4 series, would be a much larger-scale version of the MGF-3 module exterior rack attachment series. The MGF-4, together with robotic armature rail components, could be used to assemble both communications and space-based solar power arrays.
|“Episode 206: Is Space the Place? Trying to Save Humanity by Mining Asteroids”, Chemical Heritage Foundation|
The announcement of DSI was met with both praise and criticism. Several unnamed scientists have questioned whether cost-effective asteroid mining could even be accomplished given competition in Earth terrestrial markets and the high-cost of returning high-value minerals to Earth. However, DSI has responded to these statements by stating that the majority of the materials mined—principally water—would be destined for use in space, thus avoiding the enormous fuel costs of repeatedly returning to and escaping from Earth's gravitational field, and additionally, that servicing communications satellite constellations could earn the company $5 to 8 million per month.
Whether Deep Space Industries would be competing in similar services as Planetary Resources was also been questioned. In particular, Planetary Resources has not released information on their intentions for processing, power generation, or in-space manufacturing hardware and equipment. Deep Space Industries has not yet announced its spacecraft manufacturing partnerships for the FireFly 1.
- "Team". deepspaceindustries.com. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- Soper, Taylor (January 22, 2013). "Deep Space Industries entering asteroid-mining world, creates competition for Planetary Resources". GeekWire: Dispatches from the Digital Frontier. GeekWire. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
- Rincon, Paul (January 22, 2013). "New venture 'to mine asteroids'". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
- "Commercial Asteroid Hunters announce plans for new Robotic Exploration Fleet" (Press release). Deep Space Industries. January 22, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
- Wall, Mike (January 22, 2013). "Asteroid-Mining Project Aims for Deep-Space Colonies". Space.com. TechMediaNetwork. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
- Létourneau, Alex (2013-01-25). "Asteroid Mining Becoming More Of A Reality". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
- Woo, Marcus (2014-12-20). "Designing a Mothership to Deliver Swarms of Spacecraft to Asteroids". Wired. Retrieved 2014-12-17.
- Boyle, Alan (January 22, 2012). "Deep Space Industries' lofty asteroid ambitions face high financial hurdles". Cosmic Log. National Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved January 23, 2013.