AstroForge plans to launch asteroid-mining technology aboard a SpaceX rocket

By Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo,
Published by Tesmanian, 31 May 2022

AstroForge aims to become the first-ever asteroid-mining company. The California startup was founded by Matt Gialich and Jose Acain in January 2022 and already raised $13 million in funding in just a few months, with investments from: Initialized Capital, Soma, Earth Rise, Liquid 2, Seven Seven Six, and Aera VC. The co-founders have extensive experience working in the aerospace industry. Gialich worked at Virgin Orbit where he was in charge of flight software, and Acain is a former SpaceX employee who served as a deputy chief engineer.

AstroForge announced it plans to launch its first asteroid-mining technology aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket by January 2023. The tech will be integrated on a small satellite that will hitched-a-ride aboard a SpaceX SmallSat Rideshare Program mission that provides more affordable launches when companies share a rocket with dozens of satellites and spacecraft. The AstroForge satellite will likely weigh approximately 200-kilograms and will be designed to demonstrate how to mine an asteroid in low Earth orbit. Primarily, the company plans to mine platinum-group metals (PGMs) which comprise six elements: platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium. PGM’s have high heat and corrosion resistances.

AstroForge has not revealed information on how its asteroid-mining technology would work. According to some job listings on its website, the company is hiring a ‘Head of Science’ who “will be a key member of AstroForge to develop our refinery technology and continuously research novel methods in the extraction and refining of valuable resources in support of creating the first successful asteroid mining vehicle.” It has an open Mechanical Engineering position and is also seeking to hire a Physicist. “At AstroForge, our mission is to expand humanity’s capabilities to utilize the untapped resources in space. As an engineering physicist, you will help develop, build, and test refinery technologies which will enable the extraction of valuable materials from asteroids for the first time,” the job description reads. 

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