A British tabloid called the Daily Star, noting the recently announced plan for NASA to send a probe to the main belt protoplanet called 16 Psyche, claimed that unnamed experts had pegged its value, mainly in iron, nickel, and other materials, at $10,000 quadrillion. Considering that the protoplanet is 130 miles in diameter, the figure sounds about right. Then the story claims that if 16 Psyche were to be brought to Earth, it would destroy the world’s economy, likely for depressing commodity prices.

On the other hand, bringing a 130 mile in diameter hunk of metal to Earth would destroy not just its economy, but the planet itself.

The market for asteroid and lunar mining is in space and not on Earth

The idea that asteroid mining is going to destroy the world economy exhibits a misunderstanding about how the new industry will work. The market for most Space materials, whether from the asteroids or the moon, will not be on Earth, for the most part, but in space. Water from the moon would be used to make rocket fuel and to support a lunar colony. Metals from worlds like 16 Psyche would be used to build things in space, not brought back to Earth as a building material. That arrangement would eliminate the need to ship everything from Earth.

The idea is that robotic miners would travel to places like 16 Psyche and mine and refine material.

Then 3D printers and assemblers would use that raw material to build satellites, space stations, spacecraft, even full scale colonies. Such structures would be of a complexity and on a scale that would be impossible were everything had to be shipped from Earth.

The economic development of space will expand the world''s economy

The large scale economic development of the high frontier of space would significantly expand the economy of the human species by creating more activity and more wealth. Some countries already recognize that fact. The United States has passed a law allowing space miners to keep the materials they extract.

Luxembourg has not only followed suit but has invested in space mining companies. Far-sighted political leaders have come to understand the potential of space mining, once the stuff of science fiction, and are undertaking policies to take advantage of that opportunity.