Meet the Arkyd-100, a prototype asteroid mining satellite
Last year, we took a look at Planetary Resources’ plan to mine space rocks for platinum group metals and other resources with some skepticism. One of the company’s first goals was to develop a prospecting spacecraft, the Arkyd-100 Series, within the next 18 to 24 months.
The Arkyd-100 series is a type of low Earth orbit spacecraft that will search for promising mining candidates from the approximately 9,000 known near-Earth asteroids. Each of these small 11-kilogram spacecrafts will come equipped with a fold-up telescope to capture images across a “wide range of wavelengths and intensity levels.”
The satellites will also feature deployable solar arrays, avionics bays, an instrument and sensor package, and a chemical propulsion system.
On top of examining asteroids on their own, the Arkyd-100s will also create a sort of laser communications network gird. If this reminds you of how NASA used a laser sending the Mona Lisa to the Moon , that’s because NASA contracted Planetary Resources to help develop a laser communications system.
Planetary Resources President Chris Lewicki says that the company expects to launch the Arkyd 100 series sometime in late 2014 and into 2015.