By Sarah Lewin
A private spaceflight company took one small step for asteroid mining this week with the launch of its first spacecraft to test technology that may one day help tap into the riches of the solar system.
The Arkyd 3 Reflight spacecraft, a small satellite built by the space-mining company Planetary Resources, launched from the International Space Station on Thursday (July 16), beginning a 90-day mission to test the avionics, control systems and software needed to make asteroid mining possible.
Planetary Resources first tried to launch a version of the satellite into orbit last October, but that spacecraft was lost when the commercial Antares rocket carrying it and supplies for the space station exploded shortly after liftoff.
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