You know when the 21st Century is shaping up to be what it was promised to be when bankers look upon something that used to be the stuff of science fiction and decide that it is more realistic than people think. Business Insider is reporting that Goldman Sachs has issued a report that mining platinum from asteroids could be accomplished for about the cost of a mine on Earth, about $2.6 billion. Prospector probes, such as the ones being developed by Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, would cost only a few tens of millions of dollars.

Asteroids contain great wealth

A single football sized asteroid could have between $30 billion and $50 billion worth of platinum. That doesn’t include other useful materials such as water that can be converted into rocket fuel. Plunging space launch costs, thanks to commercial competition by such companies as SpaceX and Blue Origin, makes going out to asteroids and exploiting them for their wealth more realistic.

Problems with asteroid mining

One big problem looms over a platinum rush in the heavens. If even one 500 meter-sized asteroid is exploited and the platinum brought to Earth, the market for the commodity would crash as it would represent 175 times the global output. Two solutions present themselves.

Platinum is used in a broad range of technological products. If the metal suddenly becomes dirt cheap, could the number of things it could be utilized in also increase, balancing the supply and demand ratio?

Also, transportation costs being what they are, the platinum would likely be used to build things in space, such as satellite internet relay stations, fuel depots, and solar power collectors, as an aerospace expert recently pointed out.

Asteroid Mining means that everything does not have to be shipped from Earth at considerable cost. Future space settlers would be able to live off of the resources to be found at hand.

Asteroid mining is no longer science fiction

Science fiction writers have been writing stories about space mining for decades. Some visionaries have imagined mining the asteroids and the moon as commercial ventures that could justify space travel since at least the 1970s.

The Goldman Sachs report represents one of the first time that people who are charged with investing in business have concluded that such ideas are practical and realistic.The world ill never be the same again because of this development,