No, this isn’t a joke. A group of billionaires are going to launch a fleet of starships to mine asteroids. Then still in space they will make what they mine into stuff using 3-D printers. As Wired Science tell the story:
“Last year was thick with audacious private spaceflight company unveilings, including the announcement from Planetary Resources, Inc. of their plans to mine relatively valuable platinum group metals from asteroids. With the formation of Deep Space Industries, it seems that 2013 could see a new crop of private space companies with lofty goals.
“We are about prospecting, exploring, harvesting, extracting, and manufacturing based on the resources of space,” said Rick Tumlinson, founder and chairman of DSI, during a press conference on Jan. 22. Tumlinson has been an ardent space advocate for many years, helping foundMirCorp, which brought space tourist Dennis Tito to the International Space Station.
“There exists potentially extremely valuable material on asteroids, including nickel, silicon, platinum group metals such as platinum and palladium, and water, which can be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen to make rocket fuel. DSI intends to create a fleet of prospecting spacecraft called “FireFlies” (perhaps trying to rouse interest in their plans from Joss Whedon acolytes) that will travel to asteroids in Earth’s vicinity on journeys of two to six months. The spacecraft will be built up from teams of small CubeSats — low-cost miniature satellites — to form 25 kg (55 lbs) machines that can collect data about the best asteroids to mine from. The company hopes to launch the first FireFly in 2015.