An asteroid thought to be worth up to £10 trillion has been discovered in space - and a UK-based company has big plans to mine it.
The Asteroid Mining Corporation aims to advance human progress and civilisation by bringing the world the Third Industrial Revolution, and mining asteroids is part of its plan to deliver it.
Mitch Hunter-Scullion, 25, set up the Asteroid Mining Corporation in March 2016 just after he completed his University dissertation entitled 'The Case for Asteroid Mining: Examining the economic and political benefits to be gained from mining in Space'.
The Motherwell graduate came up with the concept while studying International Relations and History at Liverpool Hope University.
He describes asteroid mining, also known as the space resources industry, as the "single greatest economic opportunity in human history".
At a lecture he gave to the University of Oxford Doctoral Training Partnership in May, Mitch said: "The Earth’s resources are finite. Society’s demand for them infinite. Space Resources will allow for centuries of sustainable economic growth. The sky is not the limit."
Asteroids have previously been dubbed “flying gold mines” because of the value of the metals contained within them and the Asteroid Mining Corporation's website states: "Make no mistake, we have every intention of living among the first private citizens of Space."
Now, Mitch's company has discovered Asteroid 1986DA and he's hoping to launch a mission to mine it in 2027.
Speaking exclusively to Daily Star Online, Mitch said: "Basically, for a couple of weeks now, we’ve had some of us essentially working on identifying which asteroids are the most valuable and the most viable candidates to explore.
"One particularly that comes up is Asteroid 1986DA.
"With the value of material against the mass of the object, what you are essentially looking at for an asteroid with a 1km diameter and in the upper 90th percentile for platinum composition would essentially be something like £9 or £10 trillion."
Mr Hunter-Scullion adds that the industry is poised for huge growth, because there could be billions of similar asteroids also out there in space that are prime for mining.
"So essentially what we’ve done, we’ve had a look at the potential resources for a mission launching in 2027.
"As of 2027 asteroid 1986DA would be the asteroid us as a company would look for finding legal registration over.
"But we believe that there are hundreds of billions, if not maybe more.
"It's very difficult to quantify how large space resources is, because it’s a very large industry and it can get very much larger."
The United States is predicted to be a key player in the emerging industry.
In 2015, the country’s Government passed new legislation that will allow private companies to take a bite out of the space mining market.
And a report published earlier this year has said asteroid mining led by NASA is set to trigger a new space race in the rush to colonise other planets.
More than 9,000 near-earth objects (NEOs) could be targeted in fresh voyages into space, the authors argue.
A number of investors including venture capitalists, executive planners, research directors and government officials are said to be interested in the project, the study by market research firm ReportLinker claims.
NASA is also reported to be targeting an asteroid so valuable it would "make every human a billionaire".