It’s long been thought that asteroids are rich in minerals and could be a source for water, in the form of ice, and could be rich in metals. A company in California, Deep Space Industries, has plans to inspect small asteroids as they pass earth for potential mining projects. They hope to begin operation in 2015 using small unmanned spacecraft with the hope landing on an asteroid and discovering if there is water, hydrogen and metals like nickel.

The small spacecraft called ‘Fireflies’ will land on the surface of an asteroid and collect samples, a later generation of space craft known as ‘Dragonflies’ will collect the samples and return them to earth. Deep Space Industries is also looking at asteroids as possible ‘way stations’ where water, fuel and oxygen can be stored for ‘space ships’ taking long voyages.  In the beginning Deep Space Industries plans to finance their operation using wealthy investors but in the near future hope to sell commercial spacecraft flights to carry tourist in to space for a price of $20,000,000.