The ExLabs Story & Mission in a Snapshot
The idea for ExLabs was born in the mind of aerospace engineer Miguel Pascual, when he enthusiastically came to realize before most others, that space exploration was about to experience the most pivotal evolution since the dawn of the Mercury and Apollo missions sixty years ago, and it could happen as early as 2022.
It all comes down to payload and cost. You see, the extremely high costs per kilo of payload sent into Earth’s orbit and beyond, has always been cost-prohibitive to anyone except national space agencies using lots of hard-earned tax dollars, to break new scientific ground, or the ambitious billionaire, with a drive to achieve the seemingly impossible.
At the time of the Moon missions, the cost per kilo was as high as $60 million dollars and by the time the space shuttle program came online, this cost was cut to $85,000 per kilo. Since then, the Aries and Falcon rockets have continually lowered the cost to within ten thousand US dollars, and now, with the SpaceX’s Starship coming online, the cost for the first time, drops below $1,000 USD per kilo, and perhaps as low as $800 USD per kilo.
But that’s not all. The size of rockets and their payload capacity has increased from 54,000 lbs for the Space Shuttles to 260,0000 lbs aboard the Starship; yes, it’s a BFR as SpaceX founder Elon Musk fondly refers to it.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the math. For the first time ever, private enterprises working with reasonable budgets and ambitious purposes can plan and execute missions to space, hitching a ride on the Starship, not just for science exploration but for economic reasons as well.
The last few years have seen a flurry of private enterprises developing technologies for multiple utilities in space, ushering in a new era where a thriving space economy can become a component of human endeavor and aspiration. Bigelow Aerospace has developed modular habitats. Clearspace is preparing space junk collection, Astroscale knows collision avoidance and SpaceX’s Starlink is networking communications to the most remote corners of the planet. ExLabs is developing technologies that enable the capture of asteroids for the purpose of their research and mining.
We have entered an age where human civilization, increasingly concerned with the environmental impact on a delicate planet, faces a rapidly growing need for rare metals, such as Lithium (electric car batteries), Titanium (medical instruments, body implants, microelectronics), and Platinum (catalyst for oxygen-hydrogen separation), not to mention acquiring the life-sustaining elements of water and carbon for use in space itself, and then there’s gold.
Thousands of asteroids swing by Earth each year, some carrying precious metals exceeding $200 million in value, some have more platinum or lithium than has ever been mined on Earth. They are a resource of immense value to humanity’s ongoing evolution.
Imagine a large SUV-sized vehicle traveling through space, intercepting an asteroid the size of a school bus or a small cottage. This is the ExLabs vehicle, using its capture technology to couple itself to an asteroid, like a giant mosquito. It will change the asteroid’s trajectory to lock the object to Earth’s orbit, where it will be studied, patiently mined and materials retrieved.
The first ExLabs mission ushers in an era of asteroid mining, sustainable for Earth, in service of mankind, and it's future.