Deep Space Industries

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Deep Space Industries
Industry Space technology
Space resources
Space exploration
Founded January 22, 2013
Founder Rick N. Tumlinson
Daniel Faber[1]
David Gump[1]
Kirby Ikin[1]
John Mankins[1]
Stephen Covey[1]
Mark Sonter[1]
Christopher Cassell[1]
James Luebke[1]
Bryan Versteeg[1]
James Wolff[1]
Headquarters Mountain View, California, United States
Key people
Rick N. Tumlinson, Chairman
Daniel Faber, CEO
John S. Lewis, Chief Scientist[citation needed]
Products FireFly 1, 2, 3
DragonFly 1, 2 3
Harvestor 1
MicroGravity Foundry
Website www.deepspaceindustries.com
Footnotes / references
[2][3][4][5]

Deep Space Industries, or DSI,[6] 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.[6]

History[edit]

DSI was formally announced on January 22, 2013[5] and at the time had three spacecraft and patent-pending microgravity manufacturing technologies under development. According to David Gump, founding CEO, speaking at the company's launch in Santa Monica, California, another early goal of the company was to refuel communications satellites that contain a refueling interface. He also projected that NASA could be a potential customer, with DSI fueling manned and robotic Mars missions in low Earth orbit before they set off for the red planet. Long term, DSI indicated that they planned 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.[3][6] [needs update]

As of January, 2013, DSI was seeking US$20 million in order to further the development of its technologies and spacecraft.[7][needs update]

As of 2013, the company CEO was David Gump, previously of Transformational Space Corporation and Astrobotic Technology. Chairman Rick N. Tumlinson is a founder of the Space Frontier Foundation, among other organizations in the field of space exploration.[2] Sometime prior to August 2016, Daniel Faber became the CEO.[8]

Deep Space Industries won a contract to design a bitcoin spacecraft and associated constellation to broadcast the latest completed bitcoin block in April 2014.[9][full citation needed] NASA awarded the company two contracts for analysis and advice on the space agency's Asteroid Redirect Mission in June 2014.[10][full citation needed]

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.[11]

Spacecraft and technologies[edit]

Concepts[edit]

The first spacecraft concept proposed by Deep Space Industries, the 25 kg (55 lb) FireFly, was designed to be able to visit asteroids and do a mineral survey, in advance of mining. Constructed using inexpensive CubeSat components, FireFly was to share rockets with much larger communications satellites in order to reduce costs.[3] DSI's second satellite concept was termed DragonFly and was, in 2013, projected to launch in 2018[4] with the objective to transport up to 150 kilograms (330 lb) of asteroid material back to the surface of Earth.[3] A third design concept was put forward in 2014: a DSI "mothership" that could carry up to a dozen nanosats to beyond Earth orbits. This larger craft was to have been 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.[11]

As of 2013, DSI hoped to begin actively mining asteroids for their metals and water by 2023.[5] Water may be split into hydrogen and oxygen,to be used in propellant depots supplying interplanetary spacecraft on long journeys with rocket fuel.[5] Precious metals such as platinum-group metals mined from the asteroids may be brought to Earth for further processing and sale,[5] whereas other metals could be used to create large communications platforms or space-based solar power plants.[4] These may initially be used in disaster-stricken areas and military bases before they are used for clean power and communications across the planet.[4]

In order to aid in the processing of metals from asteroids, Deep Space Industries developed[clarification needed] 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, were intended to 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.[5][needs update]

Current spacecraft designs[edit]

As of August 2016, DSI is working on a series of spacecraft to develop technologies needed for asteroid operations, and to begin prospecting at suitable asteroids, with partial financial support from the Government of Luxembourg.[12][13]

  • Prospector-X is an experimental small satellite being developed for launch in 2017.[14]
  • Prospector-1 is a spacecraft lander intended to land on a suitable asteroid and study its composition. As of 2016, it is projected to be launched between 2019 and 2022.[13][14]

Criticism[edit]

External audio
Tethered asteroid.png
“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.[3] 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.[4]

Whether Deep Space Industries would be competing in similar services as Planetary Resources was also questioned. In particular, Planetary Resources has not released information on their intentions for processing, power generation, or in-space manufacturing hardware and equipment.[5][15] Deep Space Industries has not yet announced its spacecraft manufacturing partnerships for the FireFly 1.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Team". deepspaceindustries.com. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b 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. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Rincon, Paul (January 22, 2013). "New venture 'to mine asteroids'". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Commercial Asteroid Hunters announce plans for new Robotic Exploration Fleet" (Press release). Deep Space Industries. January 22, 2013. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Wall, Mike (January 22, 2013). "Asteroid-Mining Project Aims for Deep-Space Colonies". Space.com. TechMediaNetwork. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c Létourneau, Alex (2013-01-25). "Asteroid Mining Becoming More Of A Reality". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  7. ^ Shyong, Frank (January 22, 2013). "Asteroid mining firm aims to raise $20 million in funding". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved January 29, 2013. 
  8. ^ Daniel Faber, Deep Space Industries, interview on TMRO broadcast, published 20 August 2016.
  9. ^ DNews. "BitSat Verification: Bitcoin's Giant Leap into Orbit". Retrieved 7 June 2016. 
  10. ^ Mahoney, Erin (28 January 2016). "NASA Selects Studies for the Asteroid Redirect Mission". Retrieved 7 June 2016. 
  11. ^ a b Woo, Marcus (2014-12-20). "Designing a Mothership to Deliver Swarms of Spacecraft to Asteroids". Wired. Retrieved 2014-12-17. 
  12. ^ Cookson, Clive (2016-05-07). "Luxembourg Boldly Goes Into Asteroid Mining: Grand Duchy backs robotic prospecting for water and minerals". National Geographic. Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  13. ^ a b Foust, Jeff (August 10, 2016). "Deep Space Industries unveils first asteroid prospecting spacecraft". Space News. 
  14. ^ a b Benton, Dale (2016-08-09). "Deep Space Industries' mining ambitions move one step closer with Prospector-1". Mining Global. Retrieved 2016-08-09. 
  15. ^ a b Boyle, Alan (January 22, 2012). "Deep Space Industries' lofty asteroid ambitions face high financial hurdles". Cosmic Log. National Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 

External links[edit]