Goldman Sachs wants to mine asteroids for metals (and maybe crash the global economy in the process)

 
Lian Parsons
3, 2, 1 blast off into an asteroid belt
3, 2, 1 blast off into an asteroid belt (Source: Getty )

Goldman Sachs is going beyond the final frontier and wants to mine for valuable resources… in space.

The investment banking giant has unveiled plans to build an “asteroid-grabbing spacecraft” in the hopes of finding premium materials like platinum inside the space rocks.

Goldman Sachs released a 98-page report earlier this week which claims its astronomical goal may be achievable in the near future.

Read more: SpaceX launches the first ever recycled rocket

"While the psychological barrier to mining asteroids is high, the actual financial and technological barriers are far lower. Prospecting probes can likely be built for tens of millions of dollars each and Caltech has suggested an asteroid-grabbing spacecraft could cost $2.6bn," the report said, according to Business Insider.

For comparison, $2.6bn is only about a third of what has been invested into Uber. Space missions are also becoming less costly overall, due to innovations like recycled rockets from SpaceX.

New space race

In 2015, more than 50 venture capital firms including Fidelity, SoftBank and Bessemer invested in space. This drove more VC investments into the sector in one year than in the last 15 years combined, said Goldman Sachs analyst Noah Poponak in the report.

"While [they are] relatively small markets today, rapidly falling costs are lowering the barrier to participate in the space economy, making new industries like space tourism, asteroid mining and on-orbit manufacturing viable," Poponak said.

Nasa itself is interested in space mining; in January it announced plans to find the asteroid belt 16 Psyche which contains 130 miles of valuable resources like iron, nickel, gold, platinum and copper.

$10,000 quadrillion

If that could be transported to Earth, the iron in it would be worth an estimated $10,000 quadrillion. Yes, that is a real number.

However, all the money on the planet is only worth about $60-75 trillion, peanuts by comparison. Because of that, experts have cautioned that the asteroid’s value could tank commodity prices and lead to the total collapse of the world’s economy.

Despite this rather dire warning, Deep Space Industries, a start-up asteroid mining company, plans to launch a series of space crafts to try to intercept nearby asteroids and mine them for resources. Success would mean one small step for man, and one giant leap for the company's bank account...

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