Space Mining: Alternative Energy in Outer Space?

The best Alternative Energy might be found well beyond our realm of existence – quite literally.

The new Space Race of the 21st Century includes searching for Energy in Outer Space. From asteroid mining to space-based solar power, governments and private businesses alike are currently testing the waters with how to create and use energy found in our galaxy.

Let’s start with the example of Solar Energy. Here on Earth, Solar Energy has two limitations: (1) Every night on Earth, it gets dark. Darkness = no Solar Power, and (2) approximately one-third of the Sun’s energy gets reflected back before reaching Earth (due to our atmosphere, clouds, etc.). In Space, collecting Solar Energy would be exponentially more efficient without night or an atmosphere to interfere. The only problem to be solved after collecting Solar Energy in Space would be transporting it back to Earth. But don’t fret, the U.S. Government’s Energy Department has already been looking into this! The Energy Department has proposed two ideas: Microwave Transmitting Satellites, and Laser Transmitting Satellites (which we will explain in depth a bit later). Although the U.S. Energy Department claims they currently aren’t developing this program, there is currently a competition between private space agencies trying to develop technologies for both scientific and profitable gains.

Asteroid mining, on the other hand, is a touchy subject because it can be viewed as (1) gaining access to an infinite amount of resources, or (2) depleting Earth’s resources and then doing the same to other parts of the galaxy. Regardless of whether Asteroid mining is a true alternative form of producing energy, it could supply our space vehicles with fuel and other supplies to explore an exponentially larger circumference of space.

Asteroids contain many particles that we could extract: water, trapped gases such as carbon dioxide, metals, and minerals (to name a few). In fact, there are still undiscovered resources in Space that could help us develop new technologies that we don’t even know how to use yet.

Is Asteroid mining considered Alternative Energy? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.



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