Asteroid 2001 UW158, a rather valuable asteroid made a ‘drive by’ near Earth at a distance six times the distance between Earth and the moon. The distance, albeit considerably far, is still relatively close for an asteroid mining mission.
The asteroid, said to be less than a kilometer in diameter, has a core made up of platinum estimated to be worth about $5 trillion.
A private firm, Planetary Resources is already testing asteroid mining technologies that could enable the company mine mineral-rich asteroids in the future. Planetary Resources is said to be running these tests at the International Space Station (ISS) this week.
The company has already launched a spacecraft, the Arkyd 3 Reflight (A3R) on a 90-day mission from the ISS. Hoping the A3R will be used for a future expedition to asteroids and is currently being tested on navigation, avionics and software integrity.
Hopefully, by the time another valuable asteroid passes near Earth, the company will be positioned to mine its valuable minerals.