Space Mining Company Will Launch An Asteroid-Surveying Spacecraft By 2020

Deep Space Industries' Prospector-1 will hunt for valuables and land on an asteroid

Artist's rendering of Prospector-1
Artist's rendering of Prospector-1, which is expected to launch by the end of the decade. The water-powered spacecraft will visit an asteroid and assess its potentially mineable resources.Deep Space Industries

Within a few years, the first commercial mining mission beyond Earth's orbit could be underway. Asteroid mining company Deep Space Industries has announced that it will be sending a spacecraft called Prospector-1 out in search of resources by the end of the decade.

In 2017, the company plans to launch its Prospector-X spacecraft to test the technology out in low Earth orbit. Shortly after, Prospector-1 will travel to a near-Earth asteroid, touch down and determine whether it is a good source of minerals.

Weighing about 110 pounds, Prospector-1 will be powered by water, expelling superheated vapor to generate thrust. Since water will be the first resource mined from asteroids, this water propulsion system will allow future spacecraft--the ones that do the actual mining--to refuel on the go.

The company has not yet specified which asteroid they plan to visit.