By: Sarah Scoles
WHEN MOST PEOPLE think of asteroids, they might think of phrases like “civilization killer.” Or “boring rock.” But other people think “business opportunity.” A growing set of companies, including Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources, want to mine asteroids for all they’re worth. After digging out materials like water and precious metals, entrepreneurs can sell those commodities in space—to the maybe-burgeoning exploration industry—and back on Earth.
But Earthlings are still a long way from mining asteroids. In the meantime, then, mining companies need a short-term financial plan to stay in business. To make money and advance their technology in the lean years—the ones between mission planning and cashing in on those sweet, sweet space rocks—they sometimes have to get creative.
Not every nascent space company gets to rely on billionaire backing (that’s what the main mining-of-the-future competitor, Planetary Resources, did). No, Deep Space Industries had to start by searching for funders. Last fall, the upstart company snagged a seed investment from the firm Metatron Global, money that will help it make general hires and drive product development.
But that’s not the only kind of investment the company is looking for. Other collaborators are putting money ...