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Forum:Commercial Space - Military Space
Topic:Deep Space Industries plans to prospect asteroids
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FireFlies mass about 55 lbs. (25 kg) and will first be launched in 2015 on journeys of two to six months. Deep Space will be building a small fleet of the spacecraft using innovative miniature technologies, and working with NASA and other companies and groups to identify targets of opportunity.

"My smartphone has more computing power than they had on the Apollo moon missions," said Tumlinson. "We can make amazing machines smaller, cheaper, and faster than ever before. Imagine a production line of FireFlies, cocked and loaded and ready to fly out to examine any object that gets near the Earth."

Starting in 2016, Deep Space will begin launching 70-lb DragonFlies for round-trip visits that bring back samples. The DragonFly expeditions will take two to four years, depending on the target, and will return 60 to 150 lbs. Deep Space believes that combining science, prospecting and sponsorship will be a win/win for everyone, both lowering costs for exploration and enabling the public to join the adventure.

"The public will participate in FireFly and DragonFly missions via live feeds from Mission Control, online courses in asteroid mining sponsored by corporate marketers, and other innovative ways to open the doors wide," said CEO David Gump. His earlier ventures include producing the first TV commercial shot on the International Space Station for RadioShack, co-founding Transformational Space Corp. (t/Space) and Astrobotic Technology Inc. "The Google Lunar X Prize, Unilever, and Red Bull each are spending tens of millions of dollars on space sponsorships, so the opportunity to sponsor a FireFly expedition into deep space will be enticing."

Bringing back asteroid materials is only a step on the way to much bigger things for DSI. The company has a patent-pending technology called the MicroGravity Foundry to transform raw asteroid material into complex metal parts. The MicroGravity Foundry is a 3D printer that uses lasers to draw patterns in a nickel-charged gas medium, causing the nickel to be deposited in precise patterns.

"The MicroGravity Foundry is the first 3D printer that creates high-density high-strength metal components even in zero gravity," said Stephen Covey, a co-Founder of DSI and inventor of the process. "Other metal 3D printers sinter powdered metal, which requires a gravity field and leaves a porous structure, or they use low-melting point metals with less strength."

Senior leaders at NASA have been briefed on DSI's technologies, which would make eventual crewed Mars expeditions less expensive through the use of asteroid-derived propellant. Missions would require fewer launches if the fuel to reach Mars were added in space from the volatiles in asteroids. Mars missions also would be safer with a MicroGravity Foundry on board to print replacements for broken parts, or to create brand new parts invented after the expedition was on its way to the Red Planet.

"Using resources harvested in space is the only way to afford permanent space development," said Gump. "More than 900 new asteroids that pass near Earth are discovered every year. They can be like the Iron Range of Minnesota was for the Detroit car industry last century - a key resource located near where it was needed. In this case, metals and fuel from asteroids can expand the in-space industries of this century. That is our strategy."

For example, a large market for DSI is producing fuel for communications satellites. Low-cost asteroid propellant delivered in orbit to commsats will extend their working lifetimes, with each extra month worth $5 million to $8 million per satellite. DSI has executed a non-disclosure agreement with an aerospace company to discuss collaboration on this opportunity.

In a decade, Deep Space will be harvesting asteroids for metals and other building materials, to construct large communications platforms to replace communications satellites, and later solar power stations to beam carbon-free energy to consumers on Earth. As DSI refines asteroids for in-space markets, it also will harvest platinum group metals for terrestrial uses, such as pollution control devices.

"Mining asteroids for rare metals alone isn't economical, but makes senses if you already are processing them for volatiles and bulk metals for in-space uses," said Mark Sonter, a member of the DSI Board of Directors. Mr. Sonter combines experience in planning, permitting, and management of large and complex terrestrial mining projects with funded research into the development of asteroid resources. "Turning asteroids into propellant and building materials damages no ecospheres since they are lifeless rocks left over from the formation of the solar system. Several hundred thousand that cross near Earth are available."

Asteroids that fall to Earth are meteorites, and the Deep Space team includes Geoffrey Notkin, star of the international hit television series Meteorite Men about hunting for them. Notkin has unparalleled expertise in the diversity and market value of these elusive rocks, which are transformed by intense heat during their plunge to the surface. By contrast, the initial asteroid samples to be brought back by Deep Space will have their original in-space composition and structure preserved, creating exceedingly rare specimens for sale to the research and collectors markets.

Deep Space is looking for customers and sponsors who want to be a part of creating this new space economy. The company believes that taking the long view, while creating value, opportunities and products in the near term will allow it to become one of the economic engines that opens space to humanity. By getting under way and taking calculated risks, while developing basic industrial technologies, DSI will be well positioned over time to supply the basic needs of life in space. Taking the idea of socially minded companies to a new level, DSI is literally reaching for the stars.

"We will only be visitors in space until we learn how to live off the land there," concluded Tumlinson. "This is the Deep Space mission - to find, harvest and process the resources of space to help save our civilization and support the expansion of humanity beyond the Earth - and doing so in a step by step manner that leverages off our space legacy to create an amazing and hopeful future for humanity. We are squarely focused on giving new generations the opportunity to change not only this world, but all the worlds of tomorrow. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?"

Robert PearlmanDeep Space Industries release
Deep Space Industries Names New CEO

Deep Space Industries announced today that Daniel Faber has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer of the space resources company. Meanwhile, former CEO and company co-founder David Gump is moving into the role of Vice Chair and Director of Marketing and Communications.

"Daniel is a team builder who combines both technology expertise and entrepreneurial experience in the space field," said Gump. "He is perfect for the steps we are taking in the next months and years, as we roll out our first spacecraft and missions."

Faber represents a new generation of space leaders, and has worked on a number of Micro- and Nano-Satellites, including the asteroid-hunting Near Earth Object Surveillance Satellite, the MOST and BRITE space telescopes, and the Triton-1 ship-tracking CubeSat. Prior to Deep Space, Faber ran several start-up companies, performed project management, systems engineering, software development, integration, testing and flight control for several companies including Innovative Solutions in Space BV (ISIS), Heliocentric Technologies, SpaceQuest Canada, and Dynacon Inc.

"Deep Space Industries represents the future of commercial space beyond LEO, and Faber represents the sort of young, can-do leaders who can get us there," said Deep Space Chair Rick Tumlinson. "He is already putting together a five-star team of innovative young engineers to work with our founders – the world's top experts in space resources, engineering and science."

Faber steps up from Chief Operating Officer at Deep Space, where he managed planning and development for the company's commercial satellite and asteroid prospecting spacecraft.

He takes the helm of Deep Space at a time of accelerated development and expansion of the company, as it secures its position in the new space resources industry. Since its public debut in early 2013, Deep Space has taken a leading role in providing NASA with input to its Asteroid Redirect Mission, has secured its initial commercial customers and begun work on its first spacecraft for an as-yet unannounced project.

"I am honored to be given this job and will work hard to stay ahead of such an amazing team," said Faber. "I've been on many space projects, but being chosen to lead Deep Space beats them all. These are some of the most talented and knowledgeable people on the planet, with the best plan, best ideas and most well thought out approach to opening the solar system I know of. Just watch!"

In his new role, Gump will be in charge of all marketing and outward facing communications for Deep Space, including government customers and the development of commercial sponsorships and media campaigns. Gump, best known for creating the first television commercial to be shot on the International Space Station (ISS), a Father's Day spot for RadioShack that was produced in 2001, was the founder of LunaCorp and co-founded the spacecraft firm t/Space to become a finalist in the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services competition to carry payloads to the ISS.

"The right team for the right job is critical. Deep Space is about creating a future that is grand and amazing, yet built on a solid reality of step by step progress upwards," said Tumlinson. "This new leadership structure shows we are always moving forward, always innovating and always adapting as we continue our work to find, harvest and develop the resources of space for humanity."

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