Space mining is a reality, so the public and private sector need to collaborate, not compete, to advance humanity, a senior scientist told CNBC.
Alongside tourism, mining is a major hot-button area of research in the multi-billion dollar space industry.
Asteroids are rich with minerals that are rare on Earth. One platinum-rich 500 meter-wide asteroid could contain about 174 times the world's yearly output of the metal, and 1.5 times the known global reserves of platinum-group metals, according to U.S. firm Planetary Resources, one of the major asteroid mining players.
The hope is that asteroids near Earth can become developed into mining centers that can send refined materials, rare metals and even clean energy to Earth, Jose Cordeiro, a founding faculty and energy advisor at the Singularity University, told CNBC.
So much energy lies beyond Earth that it can help resolve Earthly issues, such as climate change, water and food security, he added.