Company aims to mine resource-rich asteroids
The asteroid Eros was photographed by NASA's Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission in 2000.
April 24th, 2012
05:36 PM ET

Company aims to mine resource-rich asteroids

Eric Anderson and Peter Diamandis pioneered the business of sending millionaire tourists to space. Now they want to mine asteroids for what they say will be tens of billions of dollars worth of resources annually for use on Earth and beyond.

Seattle-area's Planetary Resources, backed by big-money investors including filmmaker James Cameron and Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, said Tuesday it plans to develop and launch a series of robotic systems and unmanned spacecraft, starting with its Arkyd-100 Earth-orbiting space telescopes that it hopes to launch by the end of 2013 to identify candidate near-Earth asteroids.

The company hopes to dispatch swarms of Arkyd-300 prospecting spacecraft, which would orbit candidate asteroids and finish the process of determining what they hold, within 10 years.

The Bellevue, Washington, company would then unveil a new system of spacecraft for the payoff: mining precious metal, such as platinum, for use on Earth; and extracting water, whose elements the company says can be used for fuel and life-support systems in space.

In short, Planetary Resources hopes it will be in a crucial and lucrative position of not only boosting terrestrial industry, but also setting up a network of fuel depots that humanity will need to better explore the solar system and beyond.

"The Earth is feeling a resource pinch, and ultimately we will have the ability to turn that which is scarce into abundant," Diamandis, who co-founded Planetary Resources with Anderson in 2009 but generally kept mum about the project until this month, said at a press event in Seattle on Tuesday.

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Filed under: Energy • Space • Washington state
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. raven

    I Googled this the other day. I wish this project success. Anyone intrepid enough to undertake such lofty aspirations is worthy of all the rewards and accolades it brings. (and thank you again Mark H, I hadn't even heard of it til you mentored it here)

    April 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. raven

    That would be mentioned...not mentored..dang phone.

    April 24, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. dougaussie

    how would you get that back to earth? oops dropped it on new york.

    April 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dono

      from what i understand they are not brining the asteriod back to earth that would be far to dangerous and cost to much fuel and be a violation of space law, so i think its going to mine at the site then have a robot come back to earth and drop off its goodies

      April 24, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Portland tony

    Wasn't the movie "Alien" premised on such a mining operation? Damn, this is neat stuff!

    April 24, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • banasy©

      Food for thought, PT.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. basky

    Instead of mining them we should pick a small asteroid and convert it into a spaceship. It will save the trouble of building one in space plus it will have some gravity too. It shouldn't be a problem moving small asteroids plus the fuel can be mined from the asteroid itself.

    April 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Michael

    This is why you need billionaires and multi millionaires, who get to keep it insteD of ha ing to pay for somebodys birth control pills.
    Grand visions combined with innovative minds outside of the norm who crete the future insted of sitting and waiting fosomeone to hand it to them.
    This is what mankinds life should be and if those risk takers, not just in this endeavor, ut in many different fields, they will attract those same innovati e and creative types that took away from a bureaucratic and moribound military establishment. That could not sre beyond it being just a new fangled secret telephone.

    April 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Michael

    Without the free flow of creative ideas and the ability to interact with like minds worldwide mankinds progress would be severely. Limited, and even the pc geeks needed to interest those with CAPITAL AND TO SEE POSSIBLE FUTURES.

    April 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. ♚Mmmmm♛

    if it floatin around in space leave its a55 out there! there is a reason everything gets sterilized before it enters our atmosphere...it doesn't take rocket scientist to know that...!

    April 24, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. JerseyJeff

    Man.... There better be A RIDICULOUS amount of platinum on an asteroid to make this idea be profitable.
    Wish them the best, but I'm not investing just yet.

    April 24, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. JerseyJeff

    I think it's more of a scientific barrier broken more than a business, which has merits for opening up possibilities in the future.

    Some of these comments make it sound like multi-billion dollar asteroids of platinum or wizzing by all the time.

    April 24, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Michael

    There are minerals far more precious than platinum by a long shot and by their being asteroids the chance of more dense cocentration than possible here on earth. The why of US AFRICA COMMAND is because of just such minerals, a strategic nessessity.?

    April 25, 2012 at 3:01 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    //////////

    April 25, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Susan

    What I'd like to know and heard no mention of at all is why hunt down asteroids when we have a Moon not to far away full of minerals to be discovered. Of course we haven't been back to the Moon in 50 years. Why wouldn't mining the Moon be a _whole_ lot easier today? And there seems to be a whole bunch of other neat things to prove/disprove on the Moon too. The fact that the billionaires want to mine asteroids in a few years is bizarre.

    May 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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