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18 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 26 April 2012

The space race is heating up again, but this time it is private companies who might make orbital access a reality for us all. SpaceX, a private company based in California, is about to take a major step towards making those hopes a reality. Any day now they are going to launch a rocket, which they designed and built, with a capsule at the top, which is hopefully going to dock with the International Space Station. BBC Science Correspondent, and space expert, Jonathan Amos give us his analysis.

Space training for scientists
Once we can get to space on a regular basis, at a reasonable cost, what are we going to do there? Space tourism is not new, but it is about to get a lot bigger, with two major players hoping to get paying customers into space, or at least to the edge of space, as early as next year. But it's not only the wealthy who will be able to hitch a ride. So far about 100 scientists have completed their training and are ready to take their research above the atmosphere. Nick Spall went through the training for Science in Action.

Mining asteroids
If private companies are going to start heading out into space race, they are going to want to make money from it, some then will come from scientists and tourists paying for seats, but there is another potential source, mining near Earth asteroids. Planetary Resources Inc. wants to send spacecraft to the lumps of rock, to bring back metals like Platinum and also to extract water to create fuel for spaceships to go further. But how realistic is this project – is the technology there to be able to do it? Jeff Kargel, a planetary scientist from the University of Arizona who proposed the mining of asteroids back in the 1990’s gives us his view.


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