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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

A New Fleet Of Robot Asteroid Prospectors Will Launch By 2015


That makes two startups now in the asteroid-rush of the early 21st-century teens. This one also plans to use asteroid materials right where they’re found, as feedstock for spaceborne 3-D printers.

Deep Space Industries will unveil its plans later today at the Santa Monica Museum of Flying, but here’s a sneak peek.

Two sets of small satellites will do the initial prospecting and then light mining of near-Earth asteroids. In 2015, DSI will start launching unmanned “FireFly” spacecraft, which will be modular, 55-pound craft that can cheaply hitch a ride with commercial satellites. FireFly craft will study asteroids on journeys of about two to six months. It's not clear whether they'll stay in Earth orbit, or move farther away to reach asteroids.

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