Neither Australia nor anyone else has actually mined the moon, an asteroid or Mars, but when the time finally comes, we should be very good at it.
The topic of mining in space is set to be discussed at the fourth Off-Earth Mining Forum in Sydney on 21-22 November, hosted by the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER) and the UNSW School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering.
This aims to bring together leading local and international space and mining experts, researchers, lawyers, financiers, economists and government to discuss how Australia can capitalise on its strengths and position itself as a major player in the global space industry.
This industry is expected to be worth US$1 trillion by 2030.
Speakers will include director of ACSER, UNSW Professor Andrew Dempster, and his co-chair for the event, Professor Serkan Saydam.
Also speaking will be Sam Forbes, the general manager of remote robotics manufacturer Fugro, plus Kfir Damari, co-founder of Israeli firm SpaceIL, who ran the world's first privately funded spacecraft mission to the moon.
Professor Dempster and Professor Saydam are leading ACSER’s research to create the first commercially viable mission to mine and process water on the moon.
Professor Dempster said their project would only consider economically feasible mission designs, methodologies and technologies, to give the team and their partners the best chance of success.
“If we are serious about Australia sharing the potential benefits of the new space economy and space resources, then we must look at making space ventures commercially viable and environmentally sustainable,” he said.
“Australia leads the world in mining methodology and technologies, and has deep expertise in many other areas critical to space exploration. Our large land mass and location in the southern hemisphere also gives us a strategic advantage.
“We need to exploit these strengths and take the lead, or miss out on an enormous opportunity for our country’s future.”
Professor Saydam said Australians benefit from many space-based services and technologies in everyday life.
“Many Australians rely on satellite communications for connectivity; transportation and logistics companies use positioning technologies to track their fleets; and mining and resource industries use satellite imagery for exploration,” he said.
“Investment in space science and technology is also a valuable source of innovation for Earth-based industries.
“Products such as baby formula, freeze-dried foods, infrared ear thermometers, your scratch-resistant sunnies, Wi-Fi – these were all developed from technology made for space.”
Professor Dempster and Professor Saydam said they hoped the Off-Earth Mining Forum will be an opportunity to update the Australian and global community on the latest developments in the space industry’s rapidly changing environment.
“We want to bring everyone together to expand the space community, to get everyone talking to each other and focus our efforts, to move the Australian space industry forward,” Professor Dempster said.
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