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MIT Technology Review

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket could help humans mine more asteroids

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The world’s most powerful rocket may be good for more commercial missions than Mars supply trips. One astronomer says it could open access to lots of asteroids on which humans could strike it rich mining metals.

Backstory: Earlier this month, SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon Heavy rocket. It’s twice as powerful, and costs a quarter as much to launch, as its closest competitor, Delta IV Heavy.

What’s new: Falcon Heavy’s power could get humans to more asteroids to tap them for supplies. In fact, reports Gizmodo, Martin Elvis from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics predicts it could increase the number of viable asteroids by a factor of 15. That could, theoretically, be worth tens of billions of dollars if the rocks contain, say, platinum.

Why it matters: Add space prospectors to the list of people who could help SpaceX profit massively from its lead in commercial spaceflight. Tellingly, Quartz notes that China and Europe have huge respect for what SpaceX has achieved with Falcon Heavy and acknowledge that they’re years away from such a feat.