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Reports Hint at Asteroid Mining Project for New Space Exploration Company 'Planetary Resources'

By - Source: The Verge | B 48 comments

Is Planetary Resources headed to space for a spot of asteroid mining?

Yesterday, an unknown company called Planetary Resources sent out a press release drumming up excitement for a new space venture that it claimed would "help ensure humanity's prosperity."

The press release went on to detail that Planetary Resources would combine 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 release declared.

On top of that lofty statement, the project has the support of Google's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, filmmaker James Cameron, and Microsoft's former Chief Software Architect Charles Simonyi.

So, what the heck is Planetary Resources doing? All will be revealed during a conference call on April 24. Until then, your guess is as good as ours, really. However, the good people at MIT reckon its asteroid mining. We'll give you a second to process the sheer awesomeness of those words. Asteroid. Mining. The Verge delved a little further into that possibility and actually came up with some evidence to throw weight behind the asteroid mining theory.

The evidence rests with X Prize founder Peter Diamandis who is listed as the leader of the company, and comments he made while speaking at a conference some seven years ago. The Verge's Adi Robertson writes that in 2005, Diamandis appeared at TED and spoke about an extraterrestrial environment that offered metal, minerals, real estate, and energy in "infinite quantities." Specifically, he talked about asteroid mining and claimed he could finance mining a '20 trillion dollar' asteroid full of nickel-iron alloy by speculating in the precious metals market.

Aside from Diamandis' involvement, Planetary Resources also counts commercial space entrepreneur Eric Anderson; former NASA Mars mission manager Chris Lewicki; and planetary scientist & veteran NASA astronaut Tom Jones, as core members. The company's conference call will take place next Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. PDT, so stay tuned!

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Top Comments
  • 16 Hide
    stingstang , April 20, 2012 2:28 PM
    Hopefully this will be an automated system, or at least remote. Costs would sky-rocket if we had to bring humans along. Those darn fleshy, needy creatures.
  • 13 Hide
    deksman , April 20, 2012 3:12 PM
    You want infinite resources?
    Use recycling technology to transform mountains of trash that piled up all over the planet into usable materials.
    We could have done this decades ago.
    Not only would it alleviate the environmental contamination, but it would also lower our need to use new untapped resources.
    And call me crazy, but wouldn't creating a fully-self sufficient society via recycling methods be cheaper than shuffling resources from space?

    I'm hardly opposed to the idea of using resources from asteroids or going into space, but people can be real morons if they are thinking we are in a shortage of any resources here on Earth in the first place (ah but wait... we live in a Capitalist society - sensibility and logic regularly fly out the window for the sake of profits and money - and its very possible that shuffling resources from space will probably require increased costs which will probably raise prices on products made from those resources - that is, if they ever reach the consumers in the first place).

Other Comments
  • 16 Hide
    stingstang , April 20, 2012 2:28 PM
    Hopefully this will be an automated system, or at least remote. Costs would sky-rocket if we had to bring humans along. Those darn fleshy, needy creatures.
  • 6 Hide
    stingstang , April 20, 2012 2:31 PM
    Sky-rocket...get it?
  • 6 Hide
    g00fysmiley , April 20, 2012 2:33 PM
    if scifi movies and books are any indicator space mining will be completely safe and demon/alien invasion free and completely safe with excellent workign conditions for all >.>

    but seriously if we have the tech to accomplish this it'd be pretty awesome assuming the added influx of mass to our planet from mined materials didn't mess with the earth's rotation/ orbit btuu i'mnot nearly smart enough to work that out so hopefully some physisist out there has already worked out the math and it'll be good for all
  • 0 Hide
    skaz , April 20, 2012 2:38 PM
    First thoughts are Red faction, Doom, and dead space.
  • 0 Hide
    CaedenV , April 20, 2012 2:38 PM
    sheer awesomeness indeed!

    One question though; Moving from a finite to nearly infinate source of resources how would the economy react? I mean, we are talking about nearly unlimited resources (for specific materials). Does the economy collapse under the strain of highly leveraged countries combined with a collapse in material costs? Or is it the first step towards a Star Trek-like communism where individuals have no currency because all material resources are provided and only governments deal in trade with eachother for large scale flows of resources and goods?

    ... I think I want to be a space miner...
  • -5 Hide
    leo2kp , April 20, 2012 2:43 PM
    I hope they've calculated the consequences of increasing Earth's mass. By how much? Who knows. But in an unnatural way, faster than normal asteroid collisions increase the mass...I figure our days will turn longer and cooler relative to what it would be from natural process. Perhaps global warming will save us in that case, and hopefully when it becomes a problem we'll already have moved on to other worlds.
  • 6 Hide
    spasmolytic46 , April 20, 2012 2:49 PM
    It's cold outside and there no kind of atmosphere
    I'm alone alone, more or less
    let me fly far away from here
    fun, fun, fun, in the sun, sun, sun
  • -4 Hide
    maserda , April 20, 2012 2:57 PM
    I have confidence in your judgment.
  • 2 Hide
    dgingeri , April 20, 2012 3:08 PM
    I would like to work for this company.
  • -5 Hide
    southernshark , April 20, 2012 3:10 PM
    Dumb, we haven't even touched most of the crust of our own planet, but we are going to start getting minerals from space and shipping them back. Its never going to pay off, and even if it did, it would be extremely dangerous. A mistake with a mining vessel could easily wipe out a city or even state on the planet below.....
  • 13 Hide
    deksman , April 20, 2012 3:12 PM
    You want infinite resources?
    Use recycling technology to transform mountains of trash that piled up all over the planet into usable materials.
    We could have done this decades ago.
    Not only would it alleviate the environmental contamination, but it would also lower our need to use new untapped resources.
    And call me crazy, but wouldn't creating a fully-self sufficient society via recycling methods be cheaper than shuffling resources from space?

    I'm hardly opposed to the idea of using resources from asteroids or going into space, but people can be real morons if they are thinking we are in a shortage of any resources here on Earth in the first place (ah but wait... we live in a Capitalist society - sensibility and logic regularly fly out the window for the sake of profits and money - and its very possible that shuffling resources from space will probably require increased costs which will probably raise prices on products made from those resources - that is, if they ever reach the consumers in the first place).

  • 0 Hide
    ProDigit10 , April 20, 2012 3:15 PM
    They probably haven't calculated the cost yet,

    Now unless they find real gold or diamonds in asteroids, or platinum or uranium, the cost of mining in outter space, is more than what they would be able to get out of it.
  • -4 Hide
    ProDigit10 , April 20, 2012 3:18 PM
    most of the materials burn up in the stratosphere,which means they are only able to mine small quantities, those that fit in a powerful enough rocket to get it back to earth safely without causing another dark age, like with the dinosaurs.
  • -4 Hide
    djscribbles , April 20, 2012 3:19 PM
    Somebody wasn't paying attention to the storyline enough when they played deadspace... (system shock, doom, etc).
  • 3 Hide
    drwho1 , April 20, 2012 3:36 PM
    Space GOLD = $1,000,000,000,000 an ounce.

    Space Miners Gold rush begins....
  • 0 Hide
    bbfknight , April 20, 2012 3:42 PM
    any thought about the physics of this?
    the amount of trips it would take to pull back enough to make it worth while would be silly... not to mention they are not going to find any oil out there, just rock and other minerals that we have plenty of already...

    also.. think about this... the earth is a specific mass no matter what we do to it, mine, pollute, it is always has the same mass. if we change it by adding more, what does that do to our rotation, or orbit, our gravity..

    for everything we add to our planet would we not have to discard the same in mass?
  • -2 Hide
    deksman , April 20, 2012 3:42 PM
    ProDigit10They probably haven't calculated the cost yet,Now unless they find real gold or diamonds in asteroids, or platinum or uranium, the cost of mining in outter space, is more than what they would be able to get out of it.


    I hope you realize that we had the capacity to create high quality man-made diamonds decades ago and use them in computer technology as far back as the 70-ies or 80-ies.
    There's a good enough abundance of them in natural form, but DeBeers is an idiotic cartel that controls that particular market and keeps the prices insanely high.

    As for gold and platinum... they can be man-made.
    We have more than enough raw matter in trash form to take care of practically all of our needs for some time to come.
    Also, we can recycle nuclear waste into useful energy sources or other valuable resources.

    Going into space for new resources is idiotic when we barely even tapped the ones here on the planet (furthermore, it wouldn't be necessary if recycling was implemented globally 100%).

  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , April 20, 2012 3:42 PM
    Didn't James Cameron do a little film about mining on a distant planet, I could be mistaken.
  • -4 Hide
    bbfknight , April 20, 2012 3:49 PM
    Here is another thought.. there are some sections of science, that says most of the newer flu's and colds like bird flu, way have been brought to earth recently by meteorite... it is very possible that bringing this stuff home could spell our doom!
  • 0 Hide
    whiteodian , April 20, 2012 3:52 PM
    I thought this was fake at first: Like a viral video for Prometheus. I guess I'm just excited to see that movie. Here is a link to the site

    If there is a will (desire/need), there is a way.
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