Mining for rare metals and gases on asteroids has the potential to be “highly disruptive” to the world’s economy, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts have recently concluded. Bringing back the incredibly valuable stores of resources like platinum back to Earth would “crater the market for metal” back home.
These analysts, in notes dated April 4, believe that we will be asteroid mining within eight years. And so my question is: are we (the financial markets, corporations, governments, humans on Earth) prepared to have our very economy radically altered by the massive influx of all these new resources?
To give you an idea of how much new wealth we are talking about: one asteroid might contain 175 times more platinum that is mined on Earth all year. That’s about $25-50 billion dollars worth of platinum.
And while according to the Goldman Sachs analysts, building an asteroid mining spacecraft would cost about $2.6 billion, with another 20 or 30 or 50 million tacked on for prospecting satellites. But still: the rest is profit. Especially if you make sure that many of your miners & staff are robots (and I’m not being flippant here, that’s probably going to be the case).
On top of that, it seems that one of the other hot commodities in the new Space Economy is going to be water—building reserves of water in space. Middle Eastern countries known for their oil like Saudi Arabia are already shifting their attention to this “emerging” market, as well as aggressively developing their space programs.
This is exactly why a bill giving NASA billions of dollars in funding was just signed. This is why you’ll find many Republicans not so interested in climate change, but willing to back the space program. Because pretty soon, we’re going to have an absolute economic revolution on planet Earth—certainly within the next ten years we are going to see this (if not earlier).
Are we prepared? Goldman Sachs is prepared. Saudi Arabia is prepared. I’m sure there’s a bunch of corporations and wealthy-type people who are prepared.
But the average person on the street? Topics like this and the impending unemployment crisis as a result of AI might not be on the top of their attention…partially because of the struggle to simply make ends meet and survive, but also because the media doesn’t think it’s worth “highlighting.”
But you can be informed. The white papers and studies are out there. The articles are out there in the financial and tech sites and sections. Hell, I literally wrote an educational video game based on asteroid mining in my last job—meant to teach and prepare school children on this topic. And I’m still going to write about these topics here. But we gotta be proactive about getting this info. Because in 5-10 years it’s going to be a shock if you’re not informed about it.