Today’s world is built on a foundation of material objects, and Earth is the only place to obtain the natural resources that modern life depends on. But maybe not for much longer.

Most of the raw materials we value on Earth exist in much larger quantities in space. Asteroids aren’t much more than huge chunks of rock, metal, and water. Leveraging them for mining and human space exploration is a major opportunity.

If we solve the technical challenges, the potential is vast. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has said: “The first trillionaire in the world is going to be the person who first mines asteroids.”

Planetary Resources is a private company dedicated to outer space resource extraction. Peter Diamandis, Singularity University cofounder and executive chairman and Planetary Resources cofounder brought Chris Lewicki, Planetary Resources president and chief engineer, to Singularity University’s Global Solutions Program (GSP) for a fireside chat with participants last summer.

Lewicki says new technologies are enabling private space firms like theirs to take on big and bold projects once only reserved for space agencies with massive budgets.

“Instead of taking a thousand people ten years and a billion dollars to do something, we can take dozens of people, a few years, and a few million dollars to do this," Lewicki says. "Which, as it turns out, is about the same amount of money that it takes to prospect a new oil well or find a new gold mine. And the statistics for finding new resources on Earth are probably worse than finding new resources in space because...in space there's nothing between you and the asteroid but vacuum.”

Lewicki has deep experience with NASA and the Mars exploration rover programs and is a recipient of two NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals. He shares some insights from the Mars missions and Planetary Resources in the video below.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

Andrew operates as a media producer and archivist. Generating backups of critical cultural data, he has worked across various industries — entertainment, art, and technology — telling emerging stories via recording and distribution.