AstroForge and OrbAstro announce asteroid mission to fly in 2023
AstroForge Inc., a California-based asteroid mining company, recently announced that it has signed a contract with Orbital Astronautics Ltd (OrbAstro), a satellite and in-orbit service provider, to fly a 100kg-class spacecraft into deep space for an asteroid survey mission. The spacecraft is scheduled to launch in late 2023 with Intuitive Machines, a leading space exploration, infrastructure and services company, using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The mission serves as both a prospecting activity and stepping-stone towards AstroForge’s ambitions for asteroid mining.
The OrbAstro ORB-50 satellite platform (100kg-class) will host an array of AstroForge payloads associated with assessing asteroids. The spacecraft will utilise a Lunar slingshot and a Dawn Aerospace propulsion system for the 8-month transit to the asteroid, that is in a heliocentric orbit approximately 22 million miles from Earth.
“With a finite supply of precious metals on Earth, we have no other choice than to look to deep space to source cost-effective and sustainable materials,” said Matt Gialich, CEO and co-founder of AstroForge. “As we embark on our journey to preserve our planet’s future, we’re grateful to our technology partners like OrbAstro for helping us to become the most efficient, cost-effective asteroid mining solution in the world.”
Dr Ash Dove-Jay, CEO and Founder of OrbAstro, said, “Deep-space has until now only been within the remit of governments. This is the first fully commercial deep-space mission ever, it is a significant milestone for the space industry. The calibre, speed, and ambition at AstroForge is inspiring – and it is fantastic to forge ahead on this journey together.”
Having recently moved into an 18,000sqft facility in south-Oxfordshire, currently undergoing refurbishment for satellite batch production, OrbAstro is well-aligned with delivering a fleet of asteroid mining spacecraft over the coming years.
Dove-Jay, “Beyond being a provider of networks of satellites for various use-cases, a central facet of the OrbAstro roadmap is to deploy space assets over the course of this decade that slash down the difficulties associated with deep-space operations required by companies like AstroForge. The challenge of deep-space communications, and simply knowing where you are and what time it is, are major cost-drivers for deep-space missions that we are working on addressing.”
OrbAstro is a highly vertically integrated space technology company that has aligned its business model with providing and supporting large constellations of satellites. Having built all state-of-the-art subsystems and satellite platforms from the ground up, the company is able to compress costs and lead-times substantially. OrbAstro has more than two dozen commercial and government satellites scheduled for launch over the coming year, many of which are pilot missions for satellite constellations.