15:20 GMT +321 March 2019
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    Asteroid mining may not be the stuff of sci-fi flicks for long, as one company prepares to launch it's first exploratory satellite from the International Space Station in July.

    Pricey Payload: Asteroid Carrying $5 Trillion of Platinum to Pass by Earth

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    An asteroid worth an estimated $5.4 trillion is on track to pass by Earth on Sunday night.

    Asteroid UW-158 is believed to have a 90-million-ton core of platinum. The celestial body will be 30 times closer to Earth than the nearest planet at around 10 PM GMT Sunday.

    Slooh, a project which links telescopes to the Internet for public use, will be broadcasting images from an observatory in the Canary Islands, reported the Daily Mirror.

    "It's always fun when an asteroid whooshes past our world, so the Slooh telescopes will be watching live when asteroid 2011 UW-158 passes," said Slooh astronomer Bob Berman.

    "What makes this unusual is the large amount of platinum believed to be lurking in the body of this space visitor. Can it be mined someday, perhaps not too far in the future?"

    UW-158 has been classified as an "X-type" asteroid by prospecting company Planetary Resources, which yesterday launched its first demonstration vehicle from the International Space Station to test technologies for mining asteroids, the Daily Mirror reported.

    The vehicle, dubbed A3R, has already tracked dozens of asteroids similar to UW-158 which potentially can be mined for resources.

    "The successful deployment of the A3R is a significant milestone for Planetary Resources as we forge a path toward prospecting resource-rich asteroids," said Peter H. Diamandis, the company's co-founder.

    "Our team is developing the technology that will enable humanity to create an off-planet economy that will fundamentally change the way we live on Earth."

    asteroid, Earth, space
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