Follow TV Tropes


Asteroid Miners

Go To

"Yes, there's no safer occupation than mining. Especially when you're perched on a snowball whipping through space at a million miles an hour!"

Spectrographic analysis of the asteroids in Earth's solar system show that there's tons of mineral wealth just floating out there waiting for some daring Prospector with a rocket, a spacesuit, and a drill to go get it. Creators of science fiction thus came up with the image of the Belters (also known as Rock Rats, Rockskippers, and so on) as rugged, independent types who prefer the freedom of a one-man spaceship and a life of hard work to living under someone else's rules.

It should also be noted that asteroid mining is one of the things that make Alien Invasions somewhat inefficient. It's much easier to pull materials and resources from a low-gravity asteroid than the huge gravity well of a planet. Not to mention not having to deal with the indigenous population.

Stories that feature miners IN SPACE! draw a lot of inspiration from (and sometimes directly steal from) stories regarding the various gold and silver rushes of the 1800s. A notable aspect of this is that, since space is essentially infinite from a human perspective, the main factor that ended the historic gold rushes — that, eventually, the frontier closes and you run out of easily available deposits to prospect — isn't a factor for asteroid miners. When your local areas become played out and frontiersman mining is no longer viable, you can always move to another star system and start over.

Often they will end up processing their ore in a Mobile Factory. Can be difficult if they work in an Asteroid Thicket.

Not to be confused with Space Mines or Spice Mines.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Cowboy Bebop:
    • The first episode takes place on a colonized asteroid, Tequila, which is almost certainly a mining enterprise, at least originally.
    • Abandoned asteroid mines appear in another episode. It goes without saying that humans probably worked in them at some point.
  • The asteroid Axis in Gundam was originally a large mining complex, before the remnants of Zeon moved there and repurposed it as a colony. Other Gundam series will often have large groups of asteroids moved into high Earth orbit (usually in the Lagrange Points) to be used for raw materials in space construction.
  • Mighty Space Miners, a hard-ish Science Fiction Original Video Animation.

    Comic Books 
  • A Don Rosa Disney Ducks Comic Universe story, "Attack of the Hideous Space-Varmints", features an alien asteroid miner's hyperdrive beacon accidentally snatching Scrooge McDuck's money bin. When the Ducks go in hot pursuit, Scrooge (a veteran prospector himself) makes friends with the Asteroid Miner patriarch.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): The Saturnians (who do not actually live on the planet they're named for but instead on the bodies which orbit it) mine the rings of Saturn using abducted slaves from other planets.

    Fan Works 
  • Rocketship Voyager is a Star Trek: Voyager fanfic written In the Style of a 1950s sci-fi magazine pulp. In it the Maquis are a militant faction of Belters who are resisting the forced evacuation of the Asteroid Belt, which have been claimed by a hostile alien race on Jupiter. At the start of the story, Voyager is returning to Earth with Maquis prisoners and several holds full of contraterrene and other minerals confiscated from the mines.
  • The Violet Demon: Tak mentions how she spent years after first being Made a Slave toiling in an asteroid mine, before her repeated escape attempts made her untenable enough that she was sold off to Hrol's Gladiator Games on Areax instead.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien: It only really comes up as a background detail, but the crew of the Nostromo are Space Truckers transporting an automated Mobile Factory that's used for asteroid mining.
  • Alien 40th Anniversary Shorts: "Harvest" is set on a spaceship trailing a comet to harvest plasma from its tail. "Ore" has miners on an exoplanet battling a Xenomorph.
  • The crew of the Protector in Galaxy Quest go down to a planet to find a mining camp, and mistake small aliens for the miners.
  • The moon Nazis of Iron Sky have prepared for their return to earth by building spaceships and stocking Helium-3.
  • Moon takes place on a Lunar Helium-3 mining colony consisting of one man and a robot.
  • Moon 44 takes place on an asteroid mining station whose miners are all convicted felons forced to work in the mines as part of their sentences.
  • Moon Zero Two revolves around a plot to crash an asteroid composed of sapphire into the Moon's surface so it can be more easily mined.
  • The entire point of the setting for Outland is the mining of rare radioactives on Jupiter's moon, Io.
  • Polis Massa base from Revenge of the Sith is a scientific outpost for research and mining operations on its asteroid.
  • The 1954 film Riders to the Stars isn't a strict example but worthy of note — several one-man rockets are sent up in an attempt to capture a meteor sample before they enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn up.
  • Downplayed in Zygote, as the asteroids have fallen to Earth and buried themselves in the Arctic ice.

Examples by author:
  • Poul Anderson:
    • "The Rogue" features a tense love affair between the owner of an asteroid mine and an officer in Earth's Space Navy.
    • In later stories by Anderson, the various miners of the Asteroid Belt form the Asterite Republic after a full-scale Asterite War of Independence against the Earth. (The story draws heavily from the US Revolutionary War.)
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • "Catch That Rabbit": The DV-5 unit is expected to automate asteroid mining, so Powell and Donovan are testing him out on an unnamed asteroid.
    • In "C-Chute", it is briefly mentioned that the war between humans and Kloros started over asteroid mining concessions in one system — an Honor Before Reason pretext if there ever was one.
    • "The Martian Way": A colony of miners on Mars are threatened by Straw Environmentalists putting an embargo on water exports from Earth. The miners hatch a plan to send their "scavengers" (pilots tasked with catching used rocket stages for recycling) to grab one of the ice fragments in Saturn's rings, which is only possible because they're psychologically tough enough to endure the long, isolated trip.
  • Peter F. Hamilton:
    • The Night's Dawn Trilogy plays with the trope, but in this case they're scavengers of a planet's ring system who are looking for alien tech. The protagonist Joshua Calvert starts off this way, and is nearly killed by fellow scavengers who have been killing off the competition.
    • The Nano Flower: Event Horizon has stolen the design for electron-compression warheads and used them to blast an asteroid into Earth's orbit and mine it. The caverns get turned into a space station called New London and the climax of the novel takes place there.

Examples by work:

  • In the Acorna Series, the eponymous Acorna is adopted by three asteroid miners when they rescue her escape pod. As she grows up, she gets them involved in other adventures, and they eventually decide to split up and settle down to other jobs (and get wives).
  • In the Alliance/Union story Heavy Time, mining of the asteroid belt of Earth's solar system is a critical part of the economy in the 24th century.
  • Older Than Television (1898): In Edison's Conquest of Mars, a fleet of spaceships from Earth on its way to attack Mars halts at an asteroid that is being mined for gold by the Martians.
  • The Eight Worlds novel The Ophiuchi Hotline features Oort-cloud miners in the outermost regions of the solar system, looking for micro-black holes.
  • The Formic Wars novel Earth Unaware focuses on a Venezuelan clan of free miners whose ship El Cavador ("the digger" in Spanish) travels through the Kuiper Belt, looking for large enough asteroids to mine. Whenever one is found, the miners use the ship's laser drill to reach valuable pockets, extract them, and load them into unmanned "quickships", which are then sent to the Moon for processing. They are a fairly small clan with a single ship and constantly try to survive in the outskirts of the Solar System, trading with other free miner clans, fighting off Space Pirates, and avoiding mining ships run by Mega Corps. As it happens, El Cavador is the first ship to detect the arrival of the Formics. During the invasion, asteroid miners (both free and corporate) play a key role in thwarting the Formics, since this is prior to the creation of the Space Navy, and miners are the only ones with any experience in space combat.
  • Gold in the Sky, a 1958 story by Alan. E. Nourse, has two brothers investigating the 'accidental' death of their prospector father in the Asteroid Belt, due to the machinations of the power-hungry mining company Jupiter Equatorial.
  • The ship that lands on Halley's Comet in the David Brin and Gregory Benford novel Heart of the Comet isn't just there to mine for valuable material — it's full of scientists who want to study the makeup of the comet and what it can tell them about the formation of the solar system.
  • In the Known Space series, the Solar System is divided between the UN-dominated Earth and the Asteroid Belt, two competing super-powers whose rivalry might at any moment descend into a destructive war. It never does, because as different as their cultures are, and as much as they hate each other, Earth relies on the Belt for raw materials and the Belt relies on Earth for consumer goods and foodstuffs.
  • In the Larklight series, Steampunk asteroid miners are hard at work among the asteroids of various planets in our solar systems, complete with minecart tracks tying the asteroids together.
  • In the Lensman story Gray Lensman, Kimball Kinnison goes undercover as asteroid miner Wild Bill Williams to infiltrate a Boskonian drug ring.
  • Ray Bradbury's Leviathan '99 is a version of Moby-Dick Recycled IN SPACE!, where the whales are asteroids, Moby Dick is a sentient comet, and Achab's harpoon is a ten-megaton nuclear warhead.
  • Murray Leinster's Miners in The Sky takes place in the ring system around Thotmess, a gas giant in another star system. The ring system is a completely lawless place where "claim jumping" is frequent. Miners, riding small "donkey ships", need to contend with both the harsh natural environment and with fierce human competitors.
  • Frederik Pohl's Mining the Oort features a variation, with a young man from Mars training to become an Oort Cloud miner. In this case, the miners rig chunks of ice with rocket engines and send them towards the inner solar system where they can be steered towards Mars as part of a long-term terraforming operation. The book's central conflict is due to a plot to use one of these ice chunks for a Colony Drop.
  • In The Mote in God's Eye, the first (live) Motie the humans encounter is an asteroid miner who detects the huge amount of metal in their ships and comes to meet them. They can't communicate with the alien, but one officer sees that his ship is an asteroid miner's ship and makes the connection.
  • Mystery of the Third Mine, a 1953 juvenile by Robert W. Lowndes, involves a tale of crooked claim-jumping. It turns out that the Asteroid Miners' Association is stealing from its own members.
  • While asteroid mining isn't seen directly in The Nameless War, the industry is briefly mentioned, and the Third Fleet's primary base is built onto the side of an Asteroid.
  • Asteroid miners don't actually make an appearance in Ken MacLeod's Newton's Wake, but the folk duo play some of their work songs.
    We're the atomic blasters,
    The dancing wi' disaster masters,
    We're the solar mirror spinners,
    Bringing home the steel.
  • In the novel On to the Asteroid, a private company sends an automated drive system to an asteroid with the intent of shifting the asteroid from its original orbit to a lunar orbit, which would make mining it economically feasible (the premise of the series the novel is in being that expanded privatized space exploration has resulted in spaceflight to low orbit more feasible). Unfortunately, the drive breaks down during a maneuver, causing the asteroid to end up on a collision course with Earth.
  • Mentioned a few times in Pale Grey Dot. Their spaceships appear in the background, but aren't the focus.
  • In The Pride of Parahumans, parahumans were made to mine asteroids when baseline humans wouldn't sign the legal waivers. After they obtained human rights and became independent many parahumans still pursue that profession. Protagonists Argentum, Aniya, Cole, and Denal are freelance prospectors at the start of the novel.
  • The Rolling Stones (1952) features the titular Stone family traveling to the Asteroid Belt, where the twins of the family hope to sell food and luxury items to the miners extracting radioactive ores.
  • In Seetee Ship and Seetee Shock, both by Jack Williamson, the asteroid miners are the sole remaining champions of individual liberty in a solar system dominated by competing tyrannical nations. Their discovery of antimatter that can be mined (albeit with much danger) helps change things.
  • In Sergey Suhinov's Shadows on Mercury, the heroes encounter this sort of miner in the Asteroid Belt. Each miner lives on his or her own asteroid, preferring isolation to companionship. They do, however, band together when the Big Bad threatens their way of life. Some of them even sacrifice themselves by putting their one-man craft between the heroes and the Big Bad's missiles.
  • In the setting of The Ship Who..., the titular City Who Fought is actually a Space Station mainly dedicated to processing materials mined from local asteroids, though the station is still large enough and boasts enough amenities to qualify as a city anyway.
  • Melisa Michaels' Skyrider series is set in a time of growing tension between the independent asteroid miners and the Earth-based companies they work for or with.
  • In the Slingshot universe, asteroid miners exist in principle (e.g., in the system of Tabriz), but they are not a focus of the story. One of the main characters owns a hollowed-out asteroid, on the other hand, but that is less a case of asteroid mining, and more using it for a hideout. The mined materials do account for a sizable part of his wealth and were used in the build-out of the asteroid.
  • The Starlore Legacy: before the Torian rebellion, the Malakian race began as peaceful, technologically-advanced planet colonizers who spent their time doing interstellar research and mining asteroids for the valuable minerals therein.
  • In Star Trek: A Time to..., this is how the Dokaalan race live, following their planet's Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Asteroid miners near Ithor in Galaxy of Fear dig too deep and find Spore. This isn't just an Asteroid Thicket, it has giant space slugs, too.
    • Anakin and Obi-Wan's investigation into Darth Sidious takes them to an asteroid mining operation in Labyrinth of Evil. The Commerce Guild mined out a large asteroid until it was hollow and concave, then set up shop there, using tractor beams to pull in smaller asteroids for dismantling.
    • A short story in The Illustrated Star Wars Universe describes Durga the Hutt's efforts to mine the asteroid field in the Hoth system. His engineers came up with massive, automated mining ships that could be loosed to harvest asteroids quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, when the first two Automated Mineral Exploiter vessels were first activated, they immediately detected and proceeded to carve into some fantastically rich sources of metal — each other. Quoth the engineers, "We should point out that mechanically, these massive haulers performed flawlessly."
    • In Razor's Edge, the Space Pirates' clearinghouse is in an old large-scale asteroid mine. The place is riddled with passageways both in-use and abandoned, strewn with leftover mining equipment in various states of disrepair. At one point, lacking a quick way back to their ship from a deep cavern, Han hijacks a tunnel borer and simply makes a new passage.
  • In Jerry Pournelle's short story "Tinker", the Asteroid Belt is dominated by a consortium of multiplanetary corporations. In a subversion of the genre, the corporations are the good guys, and the rugged, individualistic asteroid miners are the bad guys.
  • The Anti-Hero of Venus is a former asteroid miner who lost his wife and his livelihood to the story's Big Bad.
  • Wheelers by mathematician Ian Stewart and biologist Jack Cohen subverts the usual 'hotheaded, crude roughneck' style of asteroid miners; all the asteroid mining is done by Neo-Zen monks. All the solitude, concentration and slowness of the work makes them uniquely suited to it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The closing moments of the fourth season of The 100 introduces a group of them as a faction on the ground. They were originally prison laborers under the "employ" of the Elegius Corporation. However, they got fed up with the unsafe working conditions, especially after a mysterious sickness started killing them, and turned against the company, with the help of a sympathetic employee.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Marcus Cole comes from a family of these, and would still be one if the Shadows had not arrived.
    • The RPG and the Babylon 5 Wars tabletop game mention the Belt Alliance, a shipping union that started as an anti-Raiders association of Asteroid Miners.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • In "The Hand of God", the Galactica and her fighters attack a Cylon tyllium mine located on an asteroid made almost completely of the stuff.
    • And in "Scar", the fleet mines asteroids for metal ores and radioactives vital to the fleet's continual survival.
  • Doctor Who: Milo Clancy, an independent prospector, and the Igrissi Mining Corporation, the big player, in "The Space Pirates".
  • In The Expanse, residents of the asteroids, who call themselves "Belters", can ship out as part of ice or asteroid mining crews.
  • Lexx's backstory combines this with Dug Too Deep.
  • The second half of the Nova episode "Asteroid: Doomsday or Payday?" talks about the possibility of snagging and mining near-Earth asteroids.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • The eponymous spaceship is a mining ship carrying (and processing) ore on its way back to Earth. At least, that was the plan...
    • The second episode has Lister singing:
      In a crater, on an ast'roid,
      Excavating for a mine,
      Lived an old plutonium miner,
      And his daughter Clementine.
  • Montgomery Scott mentions "working the cargo runs, bringing in supplies and taking out cargo" for asteroid miners in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Operation: Annihilate".

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Beyond Mars, which ran from 1952 to 1955 in the New York Sunday News, featured asteroid miners as its heroes. Of course, the strip was written by Jack Williamson, who also wrote Seetee Ship and Seetee Shock, mentioned above.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 2300 AD has a supplement all about gas giant ring mining, which is just about the same thing.
  • In Eclipse Phase, mineral claims in the belt are a constant point of contention between the Planetary Consortium and the Autonomists, and between Autonomist factions (anarcho-capitalists, capital-A Anarchists, Titan...).
  • GURPS: Spaceships has a bunch of asteroid mining ships in the Industry book. Asteroid miners also show up in the Transhuman Space setting.
  • Rifts: Asteroid mining, especially valuable ice asteroids, is one of the primary industries in orbit over Earth after the Coming of the Rifts.
  • In Rocket Age, the asteroid belt is being mined by both independent operators and 5th Orbit Excavations, with 5OX often pushing independents off their dig sites.
  • Dwarven rockships in Spelljammer. Their forges double as the settled asteroid's magical propulsion system.
  • The Star*Drive fluff mentions asteroid mining as a common (though dangerous) source of income, especially in frontier regions.
  • One of the career options in Traveller is "Belter", their name for asteroid miner. Glisten, one of the most important mining colonies in the Traveller universe. subverts the trope of the wild frontier asteroids, being a cultured and civilized place and the home of important grandees. Several other belts play this straight.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Asteroid mining on asteroids big enough to support habitats are a common part of the Imperium. Unfortunately, their isolation makes them perfect locations for genestealers to infest.
    • The Gaiden Game Battlefleet Gothic includes an alien race called the Demiurg who mostly live in massive factory ships, and tend to survive by asteroid mining. Quite fitting, as they are basically Dwarves Recycled IN SPACE!.
    • Roks: The Orks hollow out bigger asteroids and use the metal for their own weapons and vehicles, then strap big engines on them and send them hurtling towards the nearest planet. If it survives mostly intact, there're now a bunch of loot-happy orks on the planet's surface. If not, there's a cataclysmic explosion in the atmosphere and a very big hole in the ground, which the orks find just as entertaining.


  • Rock Raiders, and the sets it's based on, features a team of miners who are on their way home from another planet when their ship gets hit by an asteroid and sucked into a wormhole to another galaxy. They then have to mine a nearby Death World for Energy Crystals to power their ship and get home. It's essentially a fun Troperiffic take on the whole Asteroid Miners concept, with some Space Western elements thrown in.

    Video Games 
  • While not a clear example, in Alien Legacy, you can build colonies on asteroids of both belts in the Beta Caeli system. Since making a colony self-sufficient involves building factories and having them perform mining operations, this may fit the trope. However, the asteroids in question are large enough to support at least one full-fledged colony.
  • This is essentially the entire premise of Alpha Prime. The Company has people mining an asteroid known as Alpha Prime for hubbardium, and you are heading there to rescue your prospector friend.
  • Asteroids involves shooting asteroids into tinier and tinier chunks. The game doesn’t quite state openly this is for mining, however.
  • In the lore of Battleborn, the Detritus Ring, the asteroid belt home of the Rogues, has asteroid mining going on. In particular is Chunk Braxon III which is a major mining base on one of the larger chunks. They produce some semi-rare ore used in manufacturing of robots that gives Minion Robotics (and therefore the LLC) a stake in protecting the colony. Enough wealth flows through this colony that many notable Rogues frequent here as a mainstay of embezzling, theft, and other dips into the LLC cash flow.
  • You can do this in Battlestar Galactica Online, and it is a Boring, but Practical way of gaining exp. You can also call in mining ships to handle large planetoids, which give better payoff but force a Protection Mission on you.
  • Celestus allows you to put mining modules on asteroids, giving you tons of resources... for a short time.
  • A large amount of the "ore" collected in Conquest: Frontier Wars comes from asteroids; you can also mine nebulae for gas. You can get both ore and gas from refineries on planets, but if you're not sending out mining ships to hit the asteroid fields and nebulae as well, you're going to get out-built by the guy who does.
  • The backstory for Dead Space cranks this up to a whole other level: instead of asteroids, massive capital ships are sent out to crack open and mine dead planets. The plot explores what happens when one of these planets turns out to be less dead than originally thought...
  • The Elite series features asteroids that can be blown apart with a special (and otherwise largely useless) Mining Laser into fragments that can be scooped into the cargo bay and sold. A third-party add-on for Oolite adds a ship accessory (which Elite Dangerous also has) that turns your ship into a Mobile Factory of sorts, giving a small chance of extracting higher-value cargo from the fragments. It's a low-risk, low-reward and generally Boring, but Practical way of grinding for cash. More adventurous miners can equip mining charges and blow an asteroid to pieces to reach the highest-value ores inside... provided you don't blow yourself up or crash into a piece of debris on the way in.
  • In Escape Velocity Nova, you can mine asteroids for water, metal and opals.
  • A viable, but boring career path in EVE Online. (Newbies are often encouraged by veterans to do anything other than take up asteroid mining. On the other hand, there's no other reliable source for the tritanium that forms the backbone of the game's player-driven economy.) At least until one of the Space Pirates shows up to ruin your day.
  • In Evolve, Hank did this before becoming a Planet Tamer and still uses modified equipment from that job to hunt the monsters.
  • Progressing far enough in Evolve Idle allows the player to set up deep space mining ships to mine materials like iron, iridium, and Elerium from the asteroid belt.
  • You can find remains of these kinds of operations in FTL: Faster Than Light, and one random event can allow you to do it yourself.
  • In the first expansion to Galactic Civilizations II, asteroid mining ships can build and upgrade mining bases in your systems' asteroid belts, boosting production on nearby worlds. Those Goddamn Space Pirates love to blow them up.
  • In Grounded in Space the teenage player character is sentenced to three weeks of asteroid mining by themself as punishment for destroying their mother's kitchen garden by testing a homemade rocket in the family compound.
  • The lone astronaut from Heavenly Bodies also has to venture off it in a shuttlecraft to mine nearby asteroids for minerals. The minerals are red, blue, and yellow gems embedded in rocket only collectible by the high-tech drill attached to the shuttlecraft.
  • Homeworld has asteroids as your main source of resources. The Somtaaw in the Cataclysm expansion start out as just a mining kiith.
  • About half the asteroid belts in Infinite Space contain mineral-rich asteroids that can be mined for relatively small amounts of money (equivalent to one to four random encounters).
  • Mentioned in the Codex of Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect, almost every single star system containing an asteroid belt has at least one asteroid that you can scan, for easy money and XP. Just put the reticle over it, and press one button... to claim it for the Alliance and mark its location for others to mine. You're a soldier, after all, not a miner.
    • Omega from Mass Effect 2 is an entire city built within the hollowed out remains of a mined-out asteroid. The asteroid was originally a huge chuck of extremely valuable element zero, and as more miners showed up to take it apart, the city grew and the asteroid shrank. When the eezo finally ran out, the city was abandoned to the massive black market and underworld presence that had built up around the mostly-unpoliced city.
    • Also in Mass Effect 2, Legion, a geth, mentions that they prefer to gain resources this way. It is efficient, as mentioned on the page.
    • In the third game's Leviathan DLC, one of the places you visit is an asteroid-mining colony where something strange has happened to the population...
  • In Meteos, Mekks was originally one of these. After the original owners left, however, the worker robots gained sentience and created its own peaceful civilization. (The game calls it a planet, but it's really about the size of the dwarf planet Ceres.)
  • In Millennium: Return to Earth, you can build and send out Grazer-class mining ships to prospect and mine the Asteroid Belt. Once sent, the Grazers automatically go back and forth between the Moon and the Belt for 5 runs, after which they ask for new instructions. Occasionally, they will come across a particularly valuable asteroid and ask if they should mine it. If you don't reply quickly, the Grazer will move on.
  • In a peculiar example, the Planetoids map generator for Minecraft creates asteroid-like floating masses which many people usually mine hollow and string minecart tracks between.
  • Moshi Monsters has a character called Wally Warpspeed whose occupation is to mine Cosmic Rox (valuable explosive gems). One of the places he mined from is an asteroid.
  • While the base game of Offworld Trading Company is about mining on Mars, the Ceres Initiative DLC takes you to Ceres.
  • Orbiter has the Jupiter Mining Company in some 20 Minutes into the Future scenarios.
  • In Oxygen Not Included, you run a mining colony inside an asteroid (which oddly has its own biosphere).
  • The Perils of Akumos: You're on a space station orbiting a series of asteroids. You meet many miners, some injured.
  • Red Faction features a cousin of this trope — Mars Miners.
  • Grappler-archetype ships in Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages were created by asteroid miners who discovered that a great way to deal with Space Pirates was to load up on heavy armor (originally designed for protection from collisions and industrial accidents), pull in an opponent using tractor beams (originally meant for grabbing rocks), and then tearing up their target with short-range drills, saws, and cutting beams (originally used for cracking asteroids). Eventually the military noticed the effectiveness of this, and began constructing combat vessels designed from the ground up to use the Grappler style.
  • rymdkapsel has "debris fields" you build extractors next to, to mine minerals.
  • Sinistar has the player and enemy ships fighting over crystals extracted from "planetoids".
  • Asteroid miners in the Space Empires games take the form of automated robots.
  • This is roughly a third of the point of playing Space Engineers, the other two parts being obtaining the same materials through piracy, and constructing ships from the gained materials.
  • The Space Game is an RTS about mining mineral-rich asteroids and defending your claim from absurdly well-armed pirates. If you replace "pirates" with "aliens", Space Station: Frontier is this for iOS devices. It may not be free, but it has more options. And better graphics.
  • A common feature in Space Pirates and Zombies. Around one third of the visitable solar systems are classed as "mining" and generally when you get there the Civ-base is cracking open asteroids to get the 126th element Rez. The player can also crack open asteroids to get Rez, but on a smaller scale. Also, one of the large-hulled ships is a refitted asteroid cracker.
  • In Space Rangers, the player can "mine" asteroids by blowing them open with specialized lasers (normal weapons tend to vaporize most of the minerals).
  • In Space Station 13, this is the role of the miner. They mine an asteroid near the station for metals to be used to create various and useful items.
  • There are two ways you can do this in Starbound. The first is to build a pillar (or use techs) to go past your planet's atmosphere, where you can find asteroids floating about. The second is to visit an Asteroid Biome. One advantage of this is that it's very easy to see where all the ores and minerals are, making it easy to mine compared to spelunking. Several disadvantages are that the ores are mostly embedded in meteor rock (or worse, magma rock) that makes it very slow to mine, the second is getting an EPP in order to breathe (which you don't get until you can get your hands on some tungsten). In the early beta, you also had to get clothes/armor that provide enough warmth because, well, Space Is Cold (unless you want to be silly and bring a campfire/nanostove to keep you warm).
  • Star Ruler allows you to build ships to do this. With the right tech, you can include systems for refining, export and ship construction, creating an independent factory craft.
  • In Stars! (1995), any unoccupied planet (or planet occupied by an Alternate Reality race) can be mined for materials, and it is practically necessary to do so.
  • Star Trek Online has a once-a-day minigame in which you grab a spacesuit and bounce out onto an asteroid to do your own dilithium mining. Both the ore and the refined mineral are then used as one of the game's many currencies.
  • Oovo IV in Star Wars Episode I: Racer is a penal asteroid mining colony.
  • In Stellaris you can build mining stations in asteroid belts and some uninhabitable planets. Additionally, it's possible to come across fleets of ancient mining drones that outlived their creators and continue to harvest minerals from asteroids. Depending on your civilization's ethics, you can quietly observe them to try to learn their techniques, attack and tear them apart for resources, or trace their communications to discover some mineral-rich planets. They also pose an early-game danger, as the drone fleets will try to "mine" your ships if you get too close.
  • Sunless Skies: Since asteroids make up the majority of habitable ground in the High Wilderness, these make up the majority of miners. Lustrum in particular is absolutely full of them — with the twist that what they're mining isn't ore or minerals, but time itself in material form.
  • In Sword of the Stars (with expansions), you can build refinery ships that, besides refueling your fleet, can replenish their supplies by mining the asteroids in the system, if they are present. However, you should be wary of any possible Morrigi asteroid traps. A triggered trap creates a strong gravity field that pulls the ships to it, as well as any surrounding asteroids, to destroy the offenders.
  • In 10 Minute Space Strategy, asteroid fields that appear randomly on the map can be occupied with a fleet of fighters to boost your empire's speed of spacecraft production and facility building.
  • VGA Planets: Some versions of the game feature "debris fields" composed of the remains of shattered planets, which have higher mineral concentrations than normal planets but require a little more work to successfully colonize.
  • In Warframe, the aggressively expansionist Grineer empire runs many asteroid mining operations. A common stage template is a Grineer asteroid mine expansive enough to have its own Artificial Gravity and something to hold the atmosphere on the outdoor areas. In archwing stages you can see some of their smaller mining operations and small asteroids you can break for resources, such as credits (as in actual credit chits that were apparently encased in rock).
  • Wing Commander: Privateer features mining asteroids as one of the basic locations you can visit. Abandoned ones also act as bases for Space Pirates, several of them being relevant to the plot.
  • The X series has mining elements, mostly consisting of breaking up asteroids with lasers and then collecting the results.
    • Until X3: Albion Prelude, if the mining was done remotely, from another sector, it led to an infinitely respawning supply. Placing a mining station on the asteroid is more expensive, but is safer, requires less management, and makes more money in the long run.
    • There are four wares that can be extracted from Asteroids: Ore, Silicon, Ice, and Nividium. Since Ore and Silicon are required to produce Techs, every player-friendly race sells Mines for them; Ice is only used by Terrans to obtain Water, so they are the only ones who sell the "Ice Harvesting Facility"; lastly, Nividium is the most valued mineral, but the places where you can sell (at only 2 units at a time!) can be counted on the fingers of your hands, not to mention that there aren't any Mines for it.
    • Nividium mines were added in X3: Farnham's Leagacy, and it is possible to sell Nividium from the player headquarters by the hundreds or even thousands. A good-sized asteroid can yield several hundred, but gathering it all takes several hours even with a dozen or more (fairly expensive) miners active with the proprietary mining software plus a mothership for mobile drop off when full, making it a slow means of making enough money to break even.
  • Zigfrak: The player character is given a mining laser and can often use nearby asteroids to mine for low level loot and materials.

  • Most Belters in Escape from Terra, though Ceres and a few other asteroids are developed enough to support populations with different professions. It's also the source of the mineral wealth that the United World is desperate to get their hands on.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, the Punyverse uses asteroid mining as a common punishment for criminals.
  • In Speak No Evil: Melancholy of a Space Mexican, cheap labor is sent to asteroids and planets for mining.

    Web Original 
  • This Fake Movie Real Trailer by Paul Otaking for an anime Alien movie titled Alien: Monday has the crew of an asteroid mining ship picking up a far more deadlier cargo.
  • Artemis Neo: The asteroid mining town of West Haven, New Vancouver, Cascadia on the moon Neo Luna II.
  • In Clear Skies 2, "Shady" Slater is just settling into mining an asteroid when the "Phantom Fleet" is mobilized.
  • Mahu: In "Second Chance", the Galactic Commonwealth builds its first bases outside their new homeworld in mineral-rich asteroids. Other intergalactic nations do the same, seeking resources to face rivals and increase their power.
  • Orion's Arm has an article on the topic. It points out the various challenges of mining asteroids, including the lack of atmosphere, the low gravity, the often irregular shape and rapid rotation. To deal with these challenges, special ships such as gravity tugs (which move asteroids around using gravity) and Pacman Miners (which enclose asteroids to avoid any of the material being lost during the mining process) are used.
  • The Creepypasta Section 3 is all about an asteroid miner recently assigned to a mostly automated ship built for four caretakers, and begins to experience the same unexplained phenomena that drove his predecessor to suicide. The ship is called a "Kraken-class Meteor Miner", named after its resemblance to a giant squid. A bunch of mechanical tentacles grab and pull asteroids towards a huge drill consisting of three serrated metal plates, and the processing equipment and crew quarters forms the mantle.
  • Whateley Universe: In "Tennyo's Easter", the first problem Tennyo hits in space is asteroid miners: an abandoned mine full of pirates trying to operate the equipment to steal more ore, while being attacked by a different gang of pirates.

    Western Animation 
  • The Lobes from the 3-2-1 Penguins! episode "Compassion Crashin'" work in the baking soda mines of an asteroid belt.
  • An episode of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius consists of Jimmy and his friends going out to an asteroid to find "space rubies" and keeping their find away from thieves.
  • Steven Universe: Yellow Diamond owns several asteroid mines run by Agates, as seen in "Your Mother and Mine". Rhodonite tells Captain Lars that they and the rest of the Off Colors can raid them to find parts to repair their ship's nova thrusters so they can make it back to Earth.
  • Thunderbirds Are Go: In "Slingshot", a large solar flare causes a malfunction at a mining operation on an asteroid, sending it careening towards the sun and endangering its only crewman.

    Real Life 
  • As of April 2012, there's at least one company out there, called Planetary Resources, that has as its long-term goal the creation of automated mining operations on Near-Earth asteroids. They figure they'll find anything from water, to rare earths to platinum and gold out there, and expect profit returns within 10 years. It probably seems like an insanely risky venture that requires enormous initial investment. It is. Among the company's founders you have James Cameron (the greatest pioneer!) and Larry Page. They were bought out by ConsenSys in 2018, but their space initiatives are still planned to be continued.
  • As of January 2013 there is also Deep Space Industries which is out to mine asteroids. They also are planning on deep space manufacturing and refueling using these asteroids if things go well enough. They were acquired by Bradford Space in 2019, but plans are still ongoing.
  • Then there's Trans Astronautica Corporation, which plans to mine asteroids and the lunar poles. For the former, they've come up with a technique called "optical mining", which uses concentrated sunlight to break up asteroids and release the water inside.

Alternative Title(s): Asteroid Miner, Asteroid Mining