First-ever ‘asteroid mining robot’

  • A private Beijing company, Origin Space, will send out the world’s first mining robot — termed as an ‘asteroid mining robot’ — into space by November 2020.
  • The robot will, however, not do any actual mining.
  • The mission will be a preliminary assessment of the asteroid mining robot’s capabilities of identifying and extracting valuable resources, aimed at the eventual mining of asteroids.
  • The 30-gram spacecraft, NEO-1, is likely to be launched as a secondary payload on a Chinese Long March rocket, which will enter at an orbit around the earth at 500-kilometre altitude.
  • The goal is to verify and demonstrate multiple functions such as spacecraft orbital manoeuvre, simulated small celestial body capture, intelligent spacecraft identification and control.
  • The Chinese company has another mission ‘Yuanwang-1’, nicknamed ‘Little Hubble’, which is slated to be launched by late 2021 or early 2022.