- Parabolic Arc
- June 7, 2023
AstroForge Aims to Succeed at Mining Asteroids Where Others Failed
By David Bullock
While other asteroid mining companies such as Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries have gone bust,, AstroForge CEO Matt Gialich thinks his company is ready to succeed where they failed because of his management style and changes in technology.
“We are a company that, at this stage, is focused on ownership,” Gialich said. “What I mean by that is each individual contributor that we bring in is responsible for some component that they work on, be it refinery-tech or a space vehicle, and they own that from start to finish. Our management style is very much that you’re brought in for your aptitude and your skill set, and you know what to do. We are all engineers here. We allow people to perform with the best of their needs and that they know what they’re doing.”
“We are 100% focused on mining asteroids and that’s it,” he added.
This focus trickles down to how the company is looking to raise capital. Gialich explained. In the seed stage, “efficiency is not what we are going after. Speed is.” In other words, they are not looking to expand the C-suite at this time, and plan on being lean.
On May 26, AstroForge announced the closing of a $13 million seed plus round. While that is a considerable amount of capital, it is no where near the $50 million that Planetary Resource raised from its inception in 2012 to 2016, the last year it raised capital.
Initialized Capital led AstroForge’s seed round in May. Seven Seven Six, Earthrise, Aera VC, Liquid 2 and Soma also made investments in the company.
Another reason why Astro-Forge thinks it is superior to other companies that pursued asteroid mining is its undisclosed proprietary technology. Both Gialich and his co-founder/CTO, Jose Acain, were in the Y Combinator program and developed technology that “enables in-space material refinement,” which means that each asteroid mining mission “returns loaded with the highest value resources immediately ready for sale.”
The company has also partnered with OrbAstro to manufacture their satellite and has been able to procure a rideshare launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The scientific community has also identified asteroids that may be more profitable to mine during the past several years.
The mission of AstroForge is also green.
“Aside from the incredible value of minerals on known asteroids within our reach, AstroForge simultaneously offers a climate solution for Earth and expands our abilities for further deep space exploration,” says Brett Gibson, General Partner at Initialized. “If we can access the unlimited resources from space, we can move away from harmful mining practices on Earth and get the materials we need to expand our scientific abilities. To say this is a game-changer is an understatement.”
AstroForge was founded in January of this year by Acain, who is alumni of SpaceX and NASA, and Gialich, who worked at Virgin Orbit. The two met the Y-Combinator and are looking to continue to expand their team.
“We’ve brought in some great engineers and physicists to work on our ideas to do this,” said Gialich, “And we’ve at this point, been able to demonstrate that we can make this work. We have our mission coming up in January, which is going to demonstrate that in-space. That’s one of our first major milestones of the company. Nobody has ever been able to refine a material in space and we want to be the first people to do that…. That’s what really makes us different.”
8 responses to “AstroForge Aims to Succeed at Mining Asteroids Where Others Failed”
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There are three problems that he will need to overcome to succeed, lack of markets, long communication lag times, and long transit time to markets. The asteroids are a good resource ONCE there are markets on the Moon from lunar industrialization. But today they are as valueless as an Bauxite deposit in Washington State was a 150 years ago…
Well, there’s quite a few more obstacles beyond that. If your practical time to first revenue is on a scale of decade, required scale of funding cannot come from VCs or typical institutional investors. Sure you can talk your way through a seed round or two, but the scale of funding needed to actually get to any revenue is far bigger than that.
Second, we don’t even know what and where the resources are – basic prospecting and resource exploration hasn’t been done yet in any meaningful way.
Asteroid mining is an immensely worthwhile thing to take on, but i just don’t see how this can realistically be done with small scale private funding right now. Either public funds and long-term research program ( doesn’t exist even though it should ), or an incredibly wealthy angel.
It will be once a market develops for it, and most lightly that will be a market on the Moon for the water, Carbon, and Nitrogen needed for lunar development. But in the interim their best bet is to look for asteroid rubble on the Moon to try their tech out on.
In space processing of the ore will be interesting but won’t be generating any near term revenue for cash flow.
You’ve put your finger right on the biggest problem – the idiotic notion that the results of asteroid mining will be used on Earth. No. They’ll be used a bit on the Moon and maybe a tiny bit on Mars, but mainly they’ll be used in cis-Earth, cis-lunar and cis-Martian space.
Brett Gibson, the goofball from Initialized, the outfit funding AstroForge, seems to have bought the Bezos bushwah about moving mining and heavy industry off of Earth and into space. That is simply nonsense if one makes even a casual examination of the sheer tonnages of refined metals needed every year on Earth. Barring a Star Trek-style transporter, there is no way to get such quantities of material from space down to Earth that wouldn’t do a lot more environmental damage than the mining and refining it would supposedly replace.
Cheap energy is the solution to environmental problems here on Earth. Something like what fusion is supposed to be allows the waste products of industry to be processed into something else and returned to the environment. It would also allow for much more massive recycling of used materials.
Cheap energy produces all kinds of benefits. But it isn’t my side of the political divide that needs to be sold on that. The goofball German Greens, for instance, have overseen the spending of two trillion Euros over the last couple of decades on solar panels and wind turbines in a country that is overcast much of the year and isn’t very windy either.
Yet in spite of those limitations those very same Germans get useful energy out of those systems. The GOP fight against solar, wind, and Musk’s revolutionary grid tied batteries has held the US back since the early 80’s. But the real effect has been to cede two entire energy sectors to China. The GOP is much more interested in promising to arrest Hillary, fight vaccinations, conduct coups, heck the GOP candidate for governor in AZ claims the primary she won was rigged. No party like that cares about stupid things like energy policy when there’s fake politics to conduct. Tucker Carlson could never hold back a loaf on Tv talking about sources of power that don’t use fluid cycles constrained by the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
The kind of energy needed needed to post process industrial byproducts and waste into a benign form is to be found with fictional fusion, or some of the very advanced forms of fission that nobody seems very interested in.
Another one to bite the dust. Yet another company in the 1880’s trying to make nuclear submarines.