The Wealth of Asteroids

“The coarse, and still more the precious metals...
are so valuable that they can generally bear
the expense of a very long land, and
the most distant sea carriage.”
—Adam Smith (1776)
The Wealth of Nations

Developing extraterrestrial mineral resources is a complex undertaking.

The potential market value of a single 500 m asteroid is in excess of ten billion dollars, so we have motivational profit. The real question is: Can we design and develop a new extraterrestrial, industrial value/supply chain that draws upon a new potential source of value in space? A substantial extraterrestrial supply chain is already operational: World revenues for “the space economy” exceeded $120 billion in 2006. The wealth of asteroids is potentially far greater than that offered by satellites, but can we learn what we need to know in order to make it so?

The goal of this book is to present a knowledge framework, an “Asteroid Mining Knowledge Base” (@MKB - chart), that draws upon multiple components from different subjects, which will enable and empower anyone who chooses to participate in this new extraterrestrial value chain to be able to communicate effectively across the several knowledge domains that any successful strategy for asteroid mining will require.

Knowledge bases

A campaign to realize asteroid mining will need to integrate (a) international space law, including establishment of a property rights regime that is equitable and entrepreneurial, and the enforcement of such a regime through police action; (b) national politics and policies, including adoption of extraterrestrial resource development as a key priority for national and international space agencies; (c) astronomical research to discover asteroid locations and orbits; (d) asteroid spectroscopy to determine their potentially valuable mineralogical constituents; (e) rocket science and engineering to survey and then rendezvous with one or more asteroids; (f) robotic systems to carry out the mining, processing, and return of metals to Earth; and (g) entrepreneurial business plans that realistically model market supply and demand for specific minerals and metals, and package their development proposals with sufficient credence and flair to capture the requisite financing.

This book, The Wealth of Asteroids: Incorporating Near-Earth Resources into the Human Economy, presents the state of the art in each of these areas.


1. Extraterrestrial Economics

       What economic principals can best guide asteroid development?

2. Asteroid Populations, Characterization, and Accessibility [PDF]

       What do we know about asteroids?

3. Rockets, Robots, Regolith, and Return: Asteroid Mining Mechanics

       How can we reach, extract, and return valuable metals to Earth?

4. Asteroid Property Rights and International Space Law

       Who owns the asteroids?

5. Space Agencies, National Agendas, and International Alliances

       What institutions promote and regulate asteroid mining?

6. Asteroid Mining Business Plans

       What strategic and financial plans can return compelling profits?

7. Intergenerational Justice: Now or Never?

       What is our window of opportunity?

References [PDF]