When we talk about the value of gold, a lot of the value is derived from its scarcity.
The finite amount of this resource makes it rare, however, while we often associate the gleam of gold with glamour, it also carries practical applications in technologies.
The same can be said about precious metals like copper and silver, and the uses of these goods in manufacturing are big drivers of their value.
But while copper and silver are more plentiful than gold, gold is more plentiful than another precious metal – platinum. In fact, platinum is the most precious metal on the entire planet.
The thing is, it’s not just the most precious metal on this planet – it’s the most precious metal in the universe.
And the galaxy offers some intriguing opportunities to turn a scarcity of platinum and other precious metals into a glut – if startups succeed in accessing it, that is.
This is no new development, of course.
Back in 2009, a startup named Planetory Resources proclaimed it would work to mine a near-earth asteroid – the first such startup to attempt this feat.
However, efforts have been fruitless thus far, and the early-stage companies that set out to achieve this mission have since pivoted to offshoots.
But now that the cost of launching into space has decreased, this proposition has become a bit more feasible, and the next generation of startups feels they’re close to cracking the code. Startups like Los Angeles-based AstroForge, which launched its first test mission this week and has another scheduled for later this year.
“If we work out, this is very, very lucrative,” AstroForge co-founder Matt Gialich told NBC News. “I don’t hesitate to say it’s probably the most valuable company ever created, if we’re successful.”
Now, there’s still a lot of work to be done before AstroForge can reach the level of the most valuable company ever created – and obviously the odds are stacked against them.
But the implication of that statement isn’t lost on us, and the sheer size of the opportunity traveling through the galaxy is hard to overstate.
Now, not every asteroid careening through space is flush with precious metals, so the task of identifying them – let alone accessing and extracting from them – is part of the problem.
But of the asteroids that do contain precious metals, the quantities are mind numbing. An estimated 85% of these asteroids are composed of precious metals like platinum, lithium, nickel, iron, gold, magnesium, and others.
So it’s no surprise that this has become such an appealing proposition.
“There’s no easy-to-grab platinum on the surface anymore. It’s not like you can go discover some new continent,” Gialich said. “The next frontier really is space.”
And like any new frontier, startups will be front and center looking to stake their claim to the riches of the future.
AstroForge is far from the only early-stage company working to turn scarcity to surplus – we’ll be sure to let you know what we find.