Space miner to launch robot for asteroid exploration

A Chinese junior space miner is planning to launch the first space mining robot in November this year. Origin Space, a private space mining company – based in Beijing, is all set to launch NEO-1, a small satellite to a 500-kilometre altitude sun-synchronous orbit, according to US science magazine IEEE Spectrum.

Origin of space is China’s first company dedicated to the exploration and utilization of space resources. The company’s long-term goal is to develop mineral resources such as rare metals in near-Earth asteroids.

The 30-kilogram satellite will be launched by a Chinese Long March series rocket as a secondary payload. The robot is not going to actually explore and excavate resources but it will be used for testing technologies.

“The goal is to verify and demonstrate multiple functions such as spacecraft orbital manoeuvre, simulated small celestial body capture, intelligent spacecraft identification and control,” said Yu Tianhong, co-founder of Origin Space.

Following this, the firm has the Yuanwang-1 (or Look up-1) mission slated to launch in 2021. This satellite will carry an “optical telescope designed to observe and monitor Near Earth Asteroids”. This will be the primary step in locating future targets of alien excavation.

Origin Space also has a lunar mission in store. They will be sending Neo 2 to the moon’s surface by late 2021 or early 2022. According to the company, the spacecraft will be first launched into low-Earth orbit.

From the Earth orbit, it will raise its course with onboard propulsion to reach a lunar orbit. Whilst there, the craft is going to make some observations after which it will be making a hard landing on the lunar surface.

As Origin Space will become the first private firm to develop a space mining robot, the whole world will be eagerly waiting for the results. This comes at a time when many experts around the world have advocated against space mining.

American president Donald Trump also recently signed an executive order that encourages the mining of resources on the moon and asteroids.

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