Group Works on Space Mineral Resources Study

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The International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) is working on a study on space mineral resources that it plans to submit to the heads of 40 space agencies at an upcoming summit, according to study chairman Art Dula.

The study, titled “Space Mineral Resources – Challenges and Opportunities,” will “provide a logical, systematic and practical road map to promote and encourage near term evaluation, development and use of space mineral resources (SMR) in space,” according to a description on the IAA website.

Broad areas outline of the proposed study:

1. Type, location and extent of SMR; Lunar, Asteroid, Mars, others.

2. Current technical state of the art in the identification, recovery and use of SRM in space and on the Earth that identifies all required technical processes and systems, and that makes recommendations for specific technology developments that should be addressed near term at the system and subsystem level to make possible prospecting, mineral extraction, beneficiation, transport, delivery and use of SMR. Particular attention will be dedicated to study the transportation and retrival options available for SRM.

3. Analysis of the legal, regulatory and policy issues that control, limit, promote and are related to the development and use of SMR in space and on the Earth, including right to use SMR under current international and national laws, with identification of unresolved legal and regulatory issues and recommendations for action to resolved potential roadblocks.

4. Analysis of business and business issues related to development and use of SMR in space and on the Earth with pro forma case studies. Particular attention will be paid in evaluating the economical aspects related to the SRM. A broad spectrum of potential stakeholders, including international mining and resource development firms, banking and capital market will be identified.

5. Development of several specific technical, legal and economic “road maps” for SMR development and use in space and on the Earth.

6. Conclusions and recommendations.

Dula discussed the study during an appearance last week at the NewSpace 2013 conference in San Jose, Calif.  His company, Excalibur Almaz, has lately been focused on using its Soviet-era Almaz space station technology for use on mining missions.

Dula said the company is exploring the use of Ad Astra Rocket Company’s VASIMR engine in these missions. Dula is Ad Astra’s patent attorney for the plasma engine.

Formed in 1960, IAA is an international association of experts led Anatoly Perminov, who was fired as head of Roscosmos in 2012 after a series of launch failures. The academy’s mission is to bring together “the world’s foremost experts in the disciplines of astronautics on a regular basis to recognize the accomplishments of their peers, to explore and discuss cutting-edge issues in space research and technology, and to provide direction and guidance in the non-military uses of space and the ongoing exploration of the solar system.”