Case Studies

Asteroid mining idea takes flight

The Asteroid Mining Corporation, based in Glasgow, has set its sights on launching the UK’s first space mining mission.

13th November 2018

About the business

The Asteroid Mining Corporation (AMC) calculates that a single metallic asteroid of 25 metres in diameter holds around 100 tonnes of platinum group metals – worth some £2.3 billion. The big challenge for the Scottish aerospace company is to now develop the technology to unlock this economic potential.

Founder Mitch Hunter-Scullion set up AMC in 2016, having written a dissertation on asteroid mining as a student at Liverpool Hope University. Mitch had no previous experience and turned to Business Gateway for support to make his exciting business idea a reality.

“I realised that there were few companies that have been set up with the intentions of mining an asteroid, with none in the UK,” Mitch says. “It was a topic that fascinated me and when I finished university I decided to set up AMC and begin working on developing technology which will open up the possibilities of an off-Earth commercial market.”

AMC is working with academic partners to develop the Asteroid Prospecting Satellite One (APS1). Using spectral scanning, it will identify which near-Earth asteroids hold the most platinum for mining purposes. AMC plans to build APS1 in Glasgow at a cost of £2.3m, creating 10 new jobs in the city’s thriving space industry.

Business Gateway was great in helping me understand what support was available in Scotland. The one-to-one sessions were extremely valuable as I was able to access advice on the most pressing topics.

How Business Gateway has helped

Though it’s the first company of its kind in the UK, AMC still had to go through all the same processes as any other new start-up. Expert help from Business Gateway showed Mitch what he had to do to successfully set up his company – like making a business plan – and prepare for its future growth.

“Business Gateway was great in helping me understand what support was available in Scotland for new businesses,” Mitch explains. “The one-to-one sessions were extremely valuable as I was able to access advice on the topics that were most pressing. Business Gateway also put me in contact with Scottish Enterprise and helped with networking opportunities.”

A major milestone for the business will be the launch of APS1, planned for 2020. “Our goal is to develop cutting edge technology that will eventually enable the extraction, processing and use of materials derived from the many millions of asteroids known to exist near Earth. APS1 will be our first step to achieving this success,” says Mitch.

“AMC aims to take full advantage of the generous financial and technical support schemes available to companies operating in the space industry in conjunction with angel investment to get APS1 off the ground. Business Gateway has been instrumental in providing awareness of and assistance towards both public and private funding mechanisms.”

Business Gateway support

Business planning

Links to Scottish Enterprise

Routes to funding

What’s next?

AMC is working with the International Institute of Air and Space Law at Leiden University to draft a proposal for a UK Space Resources Activities Bill. This would grant companies rights to prospect for and extract mineral resources from asteroids, the moon and other celestial bodies. AMC believes such legislation is vital to the development of the UK’s space mining industry.

“This bill will allow the UK to become a major global player in the rapidly growing space mining sector and become the third country after the USA and Luxembourg to develop such forward-thinking legislation,” says Mitch. “Our vision is that other similar businesses will relocate to the UK and we will develop a thriving industry, making us a global hub for space resource activities.”

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