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The company has investors like Google and filmmaker James Cameron

A new company that is backed by the likes of Google and filmmaker James Cameron announced today that it plans to mine asteroids orbiting near Earth for precious gold, platinum and rare metals/minerals.

Planetary Resources, a company that plans to expand Earth's resource base, was founded earlier this year by Peter H. Diamandis, who also founded the X PRIZE Foundation for breakthroughs that benefit humanity, and Eric C. Anderson, who also co-founded commercial spaceflight company Space Adventures.

Washington-based Planetary Resources has a long-term goal of mining rare minerals from asteroids orbiting Earth, but one simply cannot jump to such a lofty goal. The company has a plan for getting to that point, however.

The first step is to develop a low-cost robotic spacecraft for surveying missions. In fact, it wants to cut the cost of deep-space robotic probes to one-tenth to one-hundredth of the cost of current probes. The company plans to do this by adding certain technology like optical laser communications to the probes, which will eliminate large radio antennas.

Planetary Resources plans to launch its first probe within two years, where NASA and other national agencies are expected to be among the first commercial customers.

Within 10 years, the company will slowly delve into space mining of various sorts. In addition to searching for rare metals, Planetary Resources hopes to extract water from asteroids in order to produce hydrogen fuel for future space missions.

According to Diamandis, a 98-foot long asteroid could potentially hold as much as $25 billion to $50 billion worth of platinum.

"If you look back historically at what has caused humanity to make its largest investments in exploration and in transportation, it has been going after resources, whether it's the Europeans going after the spice routes or the American settlers looking toward the west for gold, oil, timber or land," said Diamandis.

"Those precious resources caused people to make huge investments in ships and railroads and pipelines. Looking to space, everything we hold of value on Earth - metals, minerals, energy, real estate, water - is in near-infinite quantities in space. The opportunity exists to create a company whose mission is to be able to go and basically identify and access some of those resources and ultimately figure out how to make them available where they are needed."

Planetary Resources has not yet released the amount of money poured into the mining venture at this point, but large names like filmmaker James Cameron, former Microsoft chief software architect Charles Simonyi, and Google co-founders Larry Page and Eric Schmidt are among those investing in the project.

Source: Reuters

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Definitely the way forward...
By Amiga500 on 4/24/2012 2:29:32 PM , Rating: 5
Proper space stations with adjoining construction yards - in the future the human race should be looking back at the ISS as a joke.

I would further propose that the long term goal should be use of the largest space station in earth orbit... i.e. the moon, as a permanent staging post for all missions into the solar system and (assuming physics finds the way) into the wider galaxy.

RE: Definitely the way forward...
By ClownPuncher on 4/24/2012 2:43:21 PM , Rating: 5
Make it so!

RE: Definitely the way forward...
By Samus on 4/24/2012 6:52:50 PM , Rating: 2
I think this is a good direction for the ISS to head in. That is, since it has no real 'mission' it's time to give it one, especially if Musk can shuttle materials/equipment mach and forth effectively.

It wouldn't cost much to get those materials down to earth, but the transport capsules need to be delivered to space as cost effectively as possible (in bulk)

RE: Definitely the way forward...
By poi2 on 4/24/12, Rating: -1
RE: Definitely the way forward...
By ImEmmittSmith on 4/24/2012 3:18:42 PM , Rating: 2
Why not setup refineries on the Moon and ship only the precious metals back to earth. In the long run, this might impact the commodities market or at least broaden the control over the market.

RE: Definitely the way forward...
By The Raven on 4/25/2012 3:44:17 PM , Rating: 2
THat would be cool if we could send it back to Earth using the supply pods from the Haloverse.

RE: Definitely the way forward...
By kattanna on 4/24/2012 4:34:32 PM , Rating: 5
When we want to do it right..

we will have a low earth orbit station that is nothing more then a transfer point from the earth. people and materials all leave the surface and go to it, and return to the surface from it.

once there, people and goods would then route to a moon based station or mars one.. or whatever on a ship that never enters the local atmosphere but always stays in space. it just goes back and forth between local access stations.

at each local body, the moon or mars, would be another station like at earth that transfers up/down to the local surface using a craft designed to properly proceed through the local planets gravity and atmosphere, if any.

oh.. and we will need to get past our childish fears of nuclear power

RE: Definitely the way forward...
By Reclaimer77 on 4/24/2012 5:54:06 PM , Rating: 2
This guy is way ahead of ya Amiga. There's enough hydrogen buried under Shackleton Crater on the Moon to power spacecraft for decades.

But it's clear we need a way to sustain operations in orbit or the Moon going forward. Too much of spacecrafts weight is wasted on just the fuel needed to break orbit currently.

RE: Definitely the way forward...
By Amiga500 on 4/24/2012 6:09:36 PM , Rating: 2
The space elevator will be built about 10 years after everyone stops laughing

-Arthur C. Clarke

RE: Definitely the way forward...
By Reclaimer77 on 4/24/2012 6:26:08 PM , Rating: 2
Well with all due respect to Mr. Clarke, the space elevator is so problematic that it might as well be impossible. We could easily have a Moon base built in the time it would take to figure out that elevator. Not to mention the materials needed don't exist. We need a brand new material that has to be both absolutely strong, and absolutely light to support the tether of the elevator. And it has to retain these properties throughout a dynamic range of extreme temperature and pressure/stress variances.

RE: Definitely the way forward...
By Pavelyoung on 4/25/2012 1:11:28 AM , Rating: 2
Thats simply not true. The material for the space elevator does exist. Look no further than the carbon nanotube. 10 years ago the best we could do was to grow a carbon nanotube about 1mm in length, today they have managed to grow them up to 5cm in length. Give it another 10 years and we will probably be able to grow them to any length we want and at that point the space elevator CAN be built.

By Reclaimer77 on 4/25/2012 2:59:52 AM , Rating: 2
Whatever. Ten years? Ten years to go from 5cm to hundreds of miles. Based on what?

The space elevator is realistically at least 50 years away no matter how you slice it. 90 on the outside.

RE: Definitely the way forward...
By Paj on 4/25/2012 7:32:11 AM , Rating: 2
I kind of agree with you. Its a bit of chicken and egg though - the construction of a moon base will be made much easier if the space elevator was present. But without building a moon base, we may not have the necessary technological prowess required for the space elevator.

Either way, this announcement is pretty amazing.

RE: Definitely the way forward...
By stardude692001 on 4/25/2012 12:35:55 PM , Rating: 2
I believe the quote was 50 years after.
and No we can't make an earth elevator today but we do have the materials to build one on the moon. Spectra is some amazing stuff I suggest you google it.

also, are they researching how to latch onto these rocks, how to break them, you would have to cut them as explosives would be useless, or how to refine ore in zero g.

don't get me wrong I am in full support of this idea, some of the richest mines on earth are at the sites of asteroid impacts.

RE: Definitely the way forward...
By JediJeb on 4/25/2012 2:13:29 PM , Rating: 2
Explosives could be used to fracture the asteroids apart, then have some other equipment to haul it away. Explosives would not be useless, just the problem of drilling into the asteroid has to be solved first. Explosives do not need air to work, it is an energetic reaction not a burning type reaction for most explosives.

The biggest problem will be holding the probe/mining vessel to the asteroid while it is working. Those jets used in Armageddon were cute, but would use up far too much fuel to be practical, you will need some sort of claw attaching mechanism I would believe. Otherwise you begin to drill and your probe ends up spinning around a stationary bit that has only begun to penetrate the surface.

RE: Definitely the way forward...
By The Raven on 4/25/2012 3:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
Shackleton? Or Shackleford? Rusty Shackleford.

Fantastic idea
By FITCamaro on 4/24/2012 3:06:09 PM , Rating: 2
But looking forward to the bankruptcy.

RE: Fantastic idea
By FITCamaro on 4/24/2012 3:29:41 PM , Rating: 2
BTW this is not to say I don't like the company. I just don't see it getting off the ground. Literally.

RE: Fantastic idea
By JediJeb on 4/24/2012 8:50:44 PM , Rating: 2
If they can make it to the first robotic probe or maybe the second successfully then we will know if they will go bankrupt or not. I believe there will be enough investors to keep it alive that long, unless they do some stupid things and waste the money. Now depending on what the first couple surveys reveal will tell if they survive or not. If it comes back with high levels of precious minerals as expected it will take off, but if it comes back with just plain old rock, look for a bust.

RE: Fantastic idea
By mcnabney on 4/25/2012 9:28:22 AM , Rating: 2
The idea of returning the resources to Earth's gravity well is just stupid. If they are thinking long term they should be probing asteroids for content and thinking of ways to very slowly move their orbit to drop them into an orbit at Earth's L5. Once there are a bunch of resources sitting at L5 we can use them to build a colony there. Now THAT will be the method to start manufacturing in space.

However, the company apparently has distorted ideas about finding asteroids loaded with (mostly useless) minerals like platinum and gold. Imagine the LOLs when a hacker takes control of a shipment and drops it in China for a fee.

RE: Fantastic idea
By JediJeb on 4/25/2012 2:18:10 PM , Rating: 3
Actually gold and platinum are far from useless, and are used for many things other than jewelery. Platinum is used as a catalyst in many chemical processes and gold is the best electrical conductor, which is why it is used in electronics, plus it if very very resistant to oxidation.

RE: Fantastic idea
By EricMartello on 4/24/2012 5:26:43 PM , Rating: 2
I would not be opposed to subsidizing this federally if the leadership proved themselves to be competent...but even without that kind of help (because keeping old people alive longer at our expense is more important that civil progress) it still has a chance if they can actually find reasonable quantities of these rare/precious materials on nearby asteroids.

RE: Fantastic idea
By FITCamaro on 4/25/2012 9:17:53 AM , Rating: 3
I would be entirely opposed.

RE: Fantastic idea
By EricMartello on 4/27/2012 10:08:43 PM , Rating: 2
USA Economic Stats at a Glance:

GDP: $14.53 trillion
Debt: $14.58 trillion
Annual Economic Growth: ~2%

With stats like that we can afford to keep doing things the same way and expect our situation to improve.

RE: Fantastic idea
By Moohbear on 4/25/2012 12:56:20 PM , Rating: 2
I'm also expecting failure. An enterprise like this one was bound to happen sooner or later. The first group to succeed will become powerful beyond imagination, just looking at the amount of ore and material available in outer space. But the entry cost is astronomical (no pun intended), so there's little hope to make a positive ROI in the short term, notwithstanding the technical difficulties. But their assets could be purchased cheaply by another group who could inject fresh cash and finish the job...
That reminds me of Eurotunnel and the Iridium network. They were finished and are very useful, but never turned a dime for the initial investors.

RE: Fantastic idea
By The Raven on 4/25/2012 3:55:14 PM , Rating: 2
I'm looking forward to the part where the team gets swallowed by a space worm and attacked by mynoks.

RE: Fantastic idea
By Reclaimer77 on 4/25/2012 8:29:09 PM , Rating: 2
"That's no cave!"

There it goes, I said it...
By Ramstark on 4/24/2012 2:55:23 PM , Rating: 2
Mass Effect was right, so my next step is to get me a nice ass Quarian...

RE: There it goes, I said it...
By FITCamaro on 4/24/2012 3:06:44 PM , Rating: 2
Screw that. I'm getting me a fine ass Asari. Quarians can't come out of their suits.

RE: There it goes, I said it...
By Ramstark on 4/24/2012 5:22:04 PM , Rating: 2
Well you obviously haven't played Mass Effect 2...why would a I want an Asari that can fry my brains out and let me thinking Iam a little 5 year old girl, when I can get a Quarian to get to the kitchen and fix my toaster...

RE: There it goes, I said it...
By ClownPuncher on 4/24/2012 6:45:12 PM , Rating: 2
You're all furries.

RE: There it goes, I said it...
By Kurz on 4/25/2012 9:18:25 AM , Rating: 2
Qurians Be Hawt under those suits.

RE: There it goes, I said it...
By The Raven on 4/25/2012 3:52:18 PM , Rating: 2
Help yourselves but I will bag me an Ur-Quan. I want to be part of the ruling class! My hot wife and I have had a good run. But we have to think of our children and their future.

RE: There it goes, I said it...
By Schadenfroh on 4/24/2012 9:57:01 PM , Rating: 2
... and then steal your toaster and your Apple Omni-Tool, naive human.

By StevoLincolnite on 4/24/2012 3:08:24 PM , Rating: 2
Kaiden was better. He makes funny grunting noises.

RE: There it goes, I said it...
By Schadenfroh on 4/24/2012 9:53:23 PM , Rating: 5
Quarians are untrustworthy and should not be trusted.

Last time I was on the citadel, a damn Quarian "accidentally" bumped into me and pick-pocketed my credit chit as I was picking up some items down in the wards.

After a kind C-Sec officer heard my story, he moved quickly to deal with it... then this Human Marine showed up and started acting all "holier than thou" once a merchant stumbled upon where the Quarian stashed my chit and they claimed that I lost it.

I deal with more complex trades than a human and a thousand of those parasitic Quarians will see in a lifetime, credit chits do not jump out of my pressure suit. If things did pop off my suit, my skin would split open.

Their kind should not be allowed on the station, I wish the Geth would have finished the job.

If you want to be robbed blind, then by all means, date a Quarian.

PS: For humans that might be reading this, do not ingest any of their... precious bodily fluids... dextro-amino acids do not so pleasureful things to your gut.

By Haymitch on 4/24/2012 2:59:11 PM , Rating: 2
1. shoot disposable tube full of ore down to earth and mine the crash site.
2. propel asteroid into geo synchronis orbit and shuttle ore back to earth. Would weight be an issue on re-entry?
3. "Gently" crash asteroid into earth and mine the crater.

Seems like mass would be an issue any way they go.

RE: How??
By nafhan on 4/24/2012 3:16:51 PM , Rating: 2
IF they're sending stuff (like platinum, gold, etc.) back to Earth, they'll go with 1 - except it will almost certainly be a controlled descent in something akin to the Apollo capsules. I highly doubt, that 2 will be done anytime in the near future or that 3 will be done, ever.

The biggest benefits of this, IMO, will not be the interplanetary "gold rush", but the growth of space industries. In addition to high value raw materials to send home, they'll also be able to procure raw materials to USE in space. Off planet construction (and transport) gets a lot cheaper when you're not lifting all your materials off the earth's surface.

RE: How??
By boobo on 4/24/2012 11:11:28 PM , Rating: 2
They mentioned elsewhere that they planned to park the asteroid in orbit around the moon, so that they could mine it at their leisure. From the moon to the Earth, only a variation of (1) would be likely, I guess.

RE: How??
By Pavelyoung on 4/25/2012 1:18:52 AM , Rating: 2
You left out the option for them to build a processing plant either in Earth orbit or on the moon. Honestly it would be easier for them to build the processing plant on the moon, but the tree huggers are already up in arms about space pollution.

It really doesn't matter how they do it, this is the first baby step towards humans spreading out into the galaxy and I am very excited to see it happen.

Maybe after they make a few trillion dollars they will terraform Mars and start up a colony

Been There Done That
By Adonlude on 4/24/2012 2:52:04 PM , Rating: 2
Screw platinum, Its all about tritanium. I've been mining it for years in my Hulk.

RE: Been There Done That
By Reclaimer77 on 4/24/2012 5:49:02 PM , Rating: 2
Ferengi gotcha beat with their "Gold Pressed Latinum" dude.

RE: Been There Done That
By JediJeb on 4/24/2012 8:41:00 PM , Rating: 2
I preferred using my Y8 mining ship to mine asteroids for Petrochemical,Iron and Acidics to build more ships. At least up until last December :(

fun stuff
By superstition on 4/25/2012 1:01:58 AM , Rating: 2
"Astronauts' eyeballs deformed by long missions in space, study finds. Flattening at the back of their eyes may be caused by increased pressure of cerebrospinal fluid in microgravity

Brain scans of Nasa astronauts who have returned to Earth after more than a month in space have revealed potentially serious abnormalities that could jeopardise the future of long-term space missions.

Doctors examined 27 astronauts who had flown long-duration missions with the US space agency and found a pattern of deformities in their eyeballs, optic nerves and pituitary glands that remains unexplained."

"Living and working in zero gravity plays havoc on all parts of your body, including your musclar, skeletal and vestibular (balance) systems. On top of that, NASA has identified 442 medical conditions that could require emergency attention during long-term missions. Now do you still want to be an astronaut?

The Earth's magnetic field protects us from harmful radiation. We are still exposed to small amounts when we go for medical x-rays, when we travel on transcontinental flights or just from radons in the air. However, astronauts are exposed to 10 times as much radiation - and that's just in low Earth orbit.

In deep space, astronauts can be exposed to even higher doses. During solar storms, a single dose of radiation could be equivalent to several hundred chest x-rays.

In zero gravity, muscles do not have to do as much to move around. If astronauts don't work hard to counter this, they will face severe muscle loss. It's exactly the same as lying in bed for months on end - if you tried to get up and move around afterwards, you'd find that your legs were very weak.

The same applies to bones. Bones demineralise, losing calcium and strength in space. In effect, osteoporosis sets in. Astronauts risk losing 2% of their bone mass for every month spent in zero gravity.

Most astronauts have more trouble re-adapting to Earth's gravity than adapting to microgravity in orbit. Their muscles and bones have weakened, making it difficult to walk. The heart has to recondition itself to pump blood harder to overcome gravity."

"Recent research implies that gravity helps cells create patterns. In microgravity, the microtubules in developing cells might not organize the same way they would on Earth, even after the astronauts return.

Astronauts in space experience flashes of light that seem to appear behind their eyelids. What’s actually happening is that galactic cosmic rays are slashing through their brains – retinal flashes are merely a physiological marker. Along with solar flares, these rapidly traveling rays expose astronauts to high levels of ionizing radiation. This form of radiation can damage atoms in human cells, leading to decreased immunity and a higher risk of cataracts, cancer, heart disease, damage to the central nervous system and brain damage."

RE: fun stuff
By Pavelyoung on 4/25/2012 1:25:52 AM , Rating: 2
They have this really cool trick that will allow a space based processing facility to have earth normal gravity. All you have to do is SPIN IT!

Forget Planetary Resources,,,
By Bad-Karma on 4/24/2012 3:20:34 PM , Rating: 2
They should have named it Weyland-Yutani Corp!

Where's BW?
By Mitch101 on 4/24/2012 3:51:24 PM , Rating: 2
The company has investors like Google and filmmaker James Cameron
They need spokes person Bruce Willis

By DockScience on 4/24/2012 7:54:50 PM , Rating: 2
They should have named it the Resource Development Administration.

a better idea
By cokbun on 4/26/2012 12:37:14 AM , Rating: 2
why not just send a probe to hurl an asteroid to iran, syria, north korea and mine whatever resources they have left

By Aries1470 on 4/24/2012 7:34:42 PM , Rating: 1
Geez, I must have had a feeling that something like this will come around ;-)

Just read my comment located here:
well, what can I say.. this article reflects my sentiments.

p.s. When reading my post, please go to the last part of which is on subject ;-)

$50 bln. in platinum is pure BS :)))
By Pirks on 4/24/12, Rating: -1
By connor4312 on 4/25/2012 12:59:00 AM , Rating: 2
I dunno, but the guys who say there are minerals on the asteroids sure seem a lot smarter than you.

RE: $50 bln. in platinum is pure BS :)))
By Pavelyoung on 4/25/2012 1:23:22 AM , Rating: 2
You do realize that not all asteroids are made of rock don't you? A rather large percentage of them are nickel iron which would also contain precious metals like gold, silver and platinum.

One medium sized nickel iron asteroid potentially contains more metal than has been mined on Earth during its entire history.

RE: $50 bln. in platinum is pure BS :)))
By Pirks on 4/25/12, Rating: -1
By Paj on 4/25/2012 7:42:04 AM , Rating: 3

Some asteroids are just rocks. Some contain iron/nickel. Some contain precious metals.

Many metals, even some precious ones, were unknown outside their ore form until they crashed into Earth as meteorites. It has been hypothesised that metallic iron was first discovered in this way.

Just like any given cubic kilometre of earth has a certain chance to contain certain elements, the same holds true for asteroids. Using spectroscopy and albedo observation, we have managed to determine the composition of many, many asteroids with a high degree of certainty.

By JediJeb on 4/25/2012 2:26:29 PM , Rating: 2
Meteorites are the first way to see what is in the asteroids. We have tons of samples of those to have an idea what average asteroids are made of. Also asteroids would not be made of "dirt" as we know it on Earth, since a lot of that dirt is made of organic matter deposited there from dead plants and animals.

By Reclaimer77 on 4/25/2012 10:09:28 AM , Rating: 2
Okay well, you're coming off very ignorant about this. You should stick to your "crapdroid" and Blackberry trolling. We know for a fact what asteroids consist of. Where do you think most of our precious metals and elements came from? When the solar system was new, Earth was bombarded by asteroids for millions of years. They added to the composition of this planet.

You think this planet is somehow unique? Everything here started out there. And unless we want to be bound by the non-renewable resources contained on Earth, we need to start mining space.

Your attitude, language, and generally poor taste really doesn't add anything to this discussion.

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