Credit: James Vaughan (Used with permission)


“Mining in space is coming and the United States better be prepared.”

That’s the view of lawmaker Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) who held a recent oversight hearing on mineral supply chains and the New Space Race.

“Mining in space is more important than some may realize, Gosar said. “Our competitors, including China, are far ahead of us.”

The hearing was held December 12 by the Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Image credit: Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Modern way of life

As noted in a background statement, minerals like copper, lithium, cobalt and dozens of others are integral to our modern way of life. “They are used in almost all high-tech applications, including smartphones, satellites and missile defense systems. They are also essential for the function of renewable energy technologies, electric vehicles and battery storage. The global demand for minerals is expected to rise exponentially in the decades ahead.”

According to the World Bank, mineral demand will increase by nearly 500 percent by 2050. The global demand for minerals specifically used in electric vehicle batteries such as lithium and graphite will increase by even more, up to 4,000 percent in the decades ahead. 

Credit: ESA/Screengrab Inside Outer Space

Feasibility of space mining

“Exponential growth in global mineral demand and China’s dominance of mineral supply chains threatens America’s national security and economic interests,” the backgrounder adds. “While there is uncertainty over the feasibility of space mining, accelerating investments from our foreign adversaries, notably China, to extract minerals from celestial bodies exacerbates America’s fragile mineral supply chain.”

Space cowboys? International lawyers are trying to agree on what legislation will be needed to control the exploration of mineral resources in space to avoid a new ‘Wild West’.
Credit: James Vaughan

The hearing focused on what steps need to be taken by America to secure the country’s mineral supply chains, flagging both mining and territorial control over expanding resources beyond Earth’s orbit.

Hearing experts

The hearing experts on the future of space mining:

Eric Sundby, Co-Founder & CEO of TerraSpace, Executive Director of the Space Force Association

Greg Autry, Director and Clinical Professor, Space Leadership, Policy, and Business, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Arizona State University

Moses P. Milazzo, Owner of Other Orb, Chief Scientist for NASA’s Planetary Data Ecosystem [Minority Witness]

Michelle Hanlon, Executive Director, Center for Air and Space Law, The University of Mississippi School of Law

To view video of the hearing and access the witness testimony, go to:

Leave a Reply