19 April 2012

Billionaires to Fund Asteroid Mining?

Posted by Ryan Anderson

Image borrowed from io9's article on the announcement.

In another development that supports my suspicion that private enterprise is going to shape the future of space exploration, it looks like James Cameron, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, and other influential wealthy nerds are unveiling a “new space venture” next week that is going by the name “Planetary Resources”.

Of course, the press release doesn’t give any details; they want speculation to run rampant this week. Given the name, a lot of people are thinking that the announcement will be some sort of asteroid or lunar mining operation. I would have thought that space-based solar power would be easier to tackle, but the name “Planetary Resources” sure suggests mining to me. Mining asteroids had been talked about since the early days of the space program. If you could capture a small metallic asteroid and safely return the metal to the earth, it would be worth trillions of dollars. And unlike ores on earth, asteroids have “native” metal in them, so they are much easier to process into a usable form. So if there are trillions of dollars of metal up there just waiting to be mined, why hasn’t it happened yet? Well, there’s the minor problem that getting into space is really expensive, so it takes quite an investment to get to the resources. Luckily, it looks like Planetary Resources is going to be able to make quite an investment to get off the ground.

Here is the full press release:


April 18, 2012

*** Media Alert *** Media Alert *** Media Alert ***

Space Exploration Company to Expand Earth’s Resource Base

WHAT: Join visionary Peter H. Diamandis, M.D.; leading commercial space entrepreneurEric Anderson; former NASA Mars mission manager Chris Lewicki; and planetary scientist & veteran NASA astronaut Tom Jones, Ph.D. on Tuesday, April 24 at 10:30 a.m. PDT in Seattle, or via webcast, as they unveil a new space venture with a mission to help ensure humanity’s prosperity.

Supported by an impressive investor and advisor group, including Google’s Larry Page & Eric Schmidt, Ph.D.; film maker & explorer James Cameron; Chairman of Intentional Software Corporation and Microsoft’s former Chief Software Architect Charles Simonyi, Ph.D.; Founder of Sherpalo and Google Board of Directors founding member K. Ram Shriram; and Chairman of Hillwood and The Perot Group Ross Perot, Jr., the company will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of ‘natural resources’.

The news conference will be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle on Tuesday, April 24 at 10:30 a.m. PDT and available online via webcast.

WHEN: Tuesday, April 24

10:30 a.m. PDT

WHO: Charles Simonyi, Ph.D., Space Tourist, Planetary Resources, Inc. Investor

Eric Anderson, Co-Founder & Co-Chairman, Planetary Resources, Inc.

Peter H. Diamandis, M.D., Co-Founder & Co-Chairman, Planetary Resources, Inc.

Chris Lewicki, President & Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources, Inc.

Tom Jones, Ph.D., Planetary Scientist, Veteran NASA Astronaut & Planetary Resources, Inc. Advisor

WHERE: Charles Simonyi Space Gallery at The Museum of Flight

9404 East Marginal Way South

Seattle, WA 98108

Event will also be streamed online.