New Company Will Mine Asteroids


Director James Cameroon, Google executives Eric Schmidt and Larry Page, and other investors have grouped together to back a new space exploration and natural resources venture.

The new company, Planetary Resources, plans to mine near-earth asteroids (NEAs) for various resources, such as water and precious metals. They intend to do this by developing more cost-effective space exploration technology, that will allow people to expand their influence throughout the solar system.

“Many of the scarce metals and minerals on Earth are in near-infinite quantities in space. As access to these materials increases, not only will the cost of everything from microelectronics to energy storage be reduced, but new applications for these abundant elements will result in important and novel applications,” said Peter H. Diamandis, M.D., Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources.

The mining of water-rich NEAs is intended to serve as fuel and water sources to orbiting depots. The company thinks that sourcing water from space will allow for considerably cheaper space travel.

“Water is perhaps the most valuable resource in space. Accessing a water-rich asteroid will greatly enable the large-scale exploration of the solar system. In addition to supporting life, water will also be separated into oxygen and hydrogen for breathable air and rocket propellant,” said Eric Anderson, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman, of Planetary Resources.

There are 1500 or so known NEAs that are as easy to reach as the moon, fuel-wise, with another known 7500 further away. The company has also developed a low-earth orbit spacecraft that will help them better identify and prioritize targets.

“Our mission is not only to expand the world’s resource base, but we want to increase people’s access to, and understanding of, our planet and solar system by developing capable and cost-efficient systems.” Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer is quoted as saying.

Source: Planetary Resources
Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

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