Sometimes, you have to love capitalism. I’m serious, this post is not a joke. For decades, science fiction fan and space enthusiasts like me dreamed about the first steps in the new space race, the colonization of our Solar System. A big part of this dream is related to the transformation of the asteroids in useful minerals sources, not to mention the chance to use some of them as bases in the Asteroid Belt.
There’s a beautiful site, aptly named Asterank (link here), where the available data about known asteroids are compiled and offered for public use. What amazes me the most is the purposed classification of the asteroids, something that speaks volumes about our possible future. “Most cost effective” or “Most valuable” may appear as bizarre right now, but are nonetheless an effective way to look at our rocky neighbors.
An example? The asteroid Bennu (that will be reached by the OSIRIS-REX mission for a sample-return mission) is listed at 669.96 million USD value for an estimated profit of 185 million USD. Not bad at all. Want more? The asteroid Ryugu, actually in the crosshairs of the Hayabusa2 mission for another sample-return mission, is listed at 82.76 billion USD for an estimated profit of 30.07 billion USD. That’s much better! For many asteroids and other celestial bodies, there are not enough data so it will be pointless to estimate values. Others are too little or too far to be of any commercial interest.
Is there Capitalism in deep space? Not today. Not even tomorrow. It’s still something I hope to see in my lifetime.