Space.com's NASA Eyes Wild Space Tech Ideas to Mine the Moon (and Asteroids, Too!) says:

The other project is called Mini Bee and is led by Joel Sercel, founder and CEO of TransAstra Corp. Mini Bee hopes to develop a way to mine resources from asteroids, which are full of water and minerals. The project would extract resources through a method called optical mining, which would concentrate sunlight onto the asteroid. This process would wear away the surface, and any generated debris would be collected into an inflatable bag.

The team hopes to use this process to generate propellant in space, reducing the need for astronauts to haul fuel on their missions.

The NIAC program expects to fund one Phase III study per year in the coming years, NASA said. Each study team gets two years of research time to flesh out the concept enough to transfer the idea to industry or government for further mission development and implementation.

It includes the artists conception below, and it also links to Space.com's Asteroid-Mining Plan Would Bake Water Out of Bagged-Up Space Rocks

I am wondering what kind of target the MiniBee is going to practice extracting water and other things from? Will it use some naturally occurring debris in space, or will some "practice targets" made of hydrated stimulants be released some distance away, or do they have something else in mind?

An artist's depiction of the Mini Bee spacecraft designed to test optical mining in space. (TransAstra Corporation)

An artist's depiction of the Mini Bee spacecraft designed to test optical mining in space. (TransAstra Corporation)

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    $\begingroup$ Too little detail for an answer, but a "simulated asteroid" is mentioned here: thespaceresource.com/news/2019/1/… $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jun 14 '19 at 1:15
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble I like the sound of the "Omnivore solar thruster". I think " It will utilize two SmallSats and a synthetic asteroid to demonstrate the capture, mining, and usage of mined volatiles..." answers my question completely actually, though it would be a short answer. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 14 '19 at 1:19
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble from the Vimeo there: i.stack.imgur.com/85HCi.jpg $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 14 '19 at 1:22
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, so maybe it's that black sphere in your picture. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jun 14 '19 at 1:24

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