18 September 1997
News - Other (None)
NEAP a Prelude to Asteroid Mining?
Entrenpreneur Seeks to Fund Private Space Mission
by Sam Coniglio
A Colorado entrenpreneur is working with a team of researchers to develop
plans for the first privately funded space mission: to survey a nearby
asteroid with a small spacecraft.

Jim Benson, founder and chairman of SpaceDev, LLC. is trying develop an
asteroid mining business. SpaceDev is working with several universities to
develop the Near Earth Asteroid Prospector (NEAP). The NEAP spacecreaft
would carry 350 kilograms of science instruments to analyze a target
asteroid. SpaceDev has approached NASA about buying data from such a
mission, and the response has been positive.

Using a contest called the Benson Prize, SpaceDev is awarding people who
discover asteroids near the Earth which are also easily accessible within
standard launch trajectories. One prize has already been awarded.

The eventual goal of SpaceDev is to land a probe onto an asteroid and stake
a claim for mining rights. Getting the material back to Earth is yet
another challenge.

For more information, check out SpaceDev's web site at:
Source: Space News, 1-7 September 1997, p. 18

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Sam Coniglio 18 September 1997
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