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Un asteroide que vale su peso en níquel: 195.000 millones de dólares

13 febrero 2013 - 18:28 - Autor:

Este viernes pasará rozando la Tierra el asteoride 2012 DA14, una gigantesca roca de unos 130.000 toneladas de peso que lleva varias décadas orbitando el Sistema Solar en una trayectoria pareja a nuestro planeta. Mientras los más agoreros ven la llegada del asteroide como una amenaza (“la próxima vez, 2046, “seguro que nos da”), la empresa Deep Space Industries, pionera en la minería espacial, ve en el pedrusco una gran oportunidad: nada menos que un potencial de 195.000 millones de dólares (unos 145.000 millones de euros) en minerales y agua.

Eso, si tuviéramos la tecnología para secuestrar el asteroide, claro… y no la tenemos: la energía requerida para desviar el asteoride y llevarlo a Tierra no justificaría el enorme beneficio obtenido por sus minerales, principalmente hierro y níquel.

2012 DA14 tiene un diámetro aproximado de 45 metros, similar a la cúpula de la catedral de Florencia, tal y como muestra la infografía. De sus 130.000 toneladas, aproximadamente el 5% (6.000 toneladas) es agua, que asombrosamente sería el compuesto más valioso del meteorito: unos 65.000 millones de dólares. El agua puede descomponerse en el espacio para crear hidrógeno líquido y oxígeno, las bases para el mejor combustible de las naves espaciales.

Esas 6.000 toneladas de agua sobrarían para impulsar todos los vuelos realizados hasta la fecha por los Transbordadores Espaciales, según Planetary Resources, otra empresa que pretende lanzarse a esta nueva fiebre del oro espacial.

Pero hay más: la esta mina voladora contiene miles de toneladas de hierro, níquel y otros metales que podrían valer 130.000 millones de dólares como material de construcción en el espacio. Estas cifras se explican por el altísimo coste que tiene llevar materiales al espacio, siendo necesario vencer la fuerza de atracción de la Tierra.

Deep Space Industries se presentó en sociedad el pasado mes de enero y pretende iniciar su actividad en una fecha tan temprana como 2015. En una primera fase, la empresa lanzará unas naves de bajo coste llamadas Firefly y que buscarán miniasteroides de 25 kilos de peso, informa Space.com.

La recolecta de materiales es sólo la primera fase de un plan más ambicioso que incluye una tecnología llamada MicroGravity Foundry, una impresora 3D capaz de transformar el mineral en bruto del asteroide en partes metálicas complejas. La Agencia Espacial Europea anunció recientemente su futurista proyecto para “imprimir” bases en la Luna.

Noticia original en Network World. Con información de La Información, FutureTech Space.com y XConomy.

 

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