Policy & Politics

Is Space the Place?

Trying to save humanity by mining asteroids.

Episode 206 | January 5, 2016

2015 was a good year for outer space. Star Wars: Episode VII came out, NASA started hiring astronauts again, SpaceX successfully launched and returned a rocket, and the U.S. Congress passed the SPACE Act of 2015—a bill that gives any American who extracts resources from an asteroid legal rights to the bounty they reap. Since no one has yet mined an asteroid this legislation might seem premature, but it’s essential to the future of two Silicon Valley asteroid mining companies. That’s right, they already exist. They’re just waiting for humans to start colonizing space.

Reporters Katie Gilbert and Annie Costakis talk to Daniel Faber, the founder of Deep Space Industries, about his dream: to build the space equivalent of Home Depot, as well as fueling stations and manufacturing plants. They also explain a few of the untested theories behind asteroid mining.

We wanted to know more about the history of space dreaming and space colonies, so we talked to Patrick McCray, a historian of science and technology and the author of The Visioneers: How a Group of Elite Scientists Pursued Space Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a Limitless Future. He says utopian space visions have long filled the heads of scientifically minded dreamers, especially when life on Earth isn’t going so well.

How to Mine an Asteroid


Hosts: Michal Meyer and Bob Kenworthy
Guests: Patrick McCray
Reporter: Katie Gilbert and Annie Costakis
Producer: Mariel Carr
Associate Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez
Additional Production: Kyrie Greenberg  
“Boop” by Podington Bear, courtesy of the Free Music Archive
Additional music courtesy of the Audio Network