In November, a Chinese space mining startup, Origin Space, will launch the world’s first space mining robot into Earth orbit (designated NEO-1). Once in orbit, NEO-1 will perform a series of tests to ensure it works properly. This proof-of-concept is the first of its kind and, if successful, will pave the way for China’s budding space mining industry to take flight.
It is believed that the world’s first trillionaire will come from the space mining industry. Following the launch of NEO-1, Origin Space plans to place a small observation satellite, Yuanwang-1 (or “Little Hubble”), in Earth orbit next year to search for mineable asteroids. Beijing has identified space mining as new strategic industry that China must dominate in order to fulfill President Xi Jinping’s goal of making the People’s Republic of China the world’s hegemon by 2049.
For President Xi to realize his “China Dream” of global domination by 2049, China has embraced what I refer to as The Field of Dreams mentality when it comes to high-tech innovation and space dominance: If you build it, they will come. By building the world’s first viable space mining companies and creating the infrastructure needed to support long-range space operations, Beijing believes that it can woo foreign talent and investment away from the United States and into China. There is reason to believe that Beijing’s assumptions are correct.
The United States has possessed the ability to venture into space and mine the various celestial bodies for decades. Yet, until the Trump administration came along, America failed to exploit space in the way that China intends to. A succession of American leaders, Democrat and Republican alike — including former Vice President Joe Biden — allowed for America’s advantages in space to erode. Now, China’s NEO-1 test scheduled for November is yet another