Critics bar idea as costly and unrealistic
By: Khristopher Reardon, Staff Writer
Planetary Resources plans to drill into nearby asteroids and bring space minerals back to Earth.
The company announced its intent to mine asteroids that pass near Earth, hoping to tap veins of everything from platinum to water, harnessing them for our planet’s stability and human prosperity, according to the mission statement on their website.
It’s not about thinking and dreaming about asteroid mining. There’s plenty of talking. This is about doing.
Formerly known as Arkyd Astronautics, the company has some serious backing from big-named investors like James Cameron, Canadian film maker, Larry Page, co-founder of Google and Ross Perot, Jr., chairman of the board for Perot Systems and son of former presidential candidate Ross Perot.
“If you think about what has driven human exploration over time, it really has been the search for natural resources,” said Peter Dimandis, co-founder and co-chair of Planetary Resources, at a press conference last Tuesday. “Whether it is the exploration 500 to 1,000 years ago of China, or the Europeans heading to the Americas searching for gold and spices or the American settlers searching for timber, land, gold, oil … these are the things that have driven us over the long term.”
It can seem a little farfetched or even like a work of fiction, but the company contends that it’s putting its plans into action to take this idea from science-fiction to fact.
“It’s not about thinking and dreaming about asteroid mining. There’s plenty of talking. This is about doing. We’ll create robots that go into deep space and mine asteroids. We’re not going to talk about it, we’re just going to do it,” said Eric Anderson, co-founder of Planetary Resources who is also an aerospace engineer. Anderson also founded the company Space Adventures, a space tourism company based in the US that has flown commercial space flights since 1998.
The project does have dissenters though. According to the telegraph.co.uk several scientists weighed in, calling the idea both difficult and pricey and they were wary of the company’s ability to turn a profit.
Anderson contends that he will prove these people wrong. “Before we started launching people into space as private citizens, people thought that was a pie-in-the-sky idea,” Anderson said. “We’re in this for decades. But it’s not a charity. And we’ll make money from the beginning,” he says.
Planetary Resources is going to start its plans by deploying telescope satellites, dubbed the Arkyd-100, which will help the company pick prime asteroids near the Earth in the next 18 to 24 months. Later, they plan to launch deep-space robotic crafts that can prospect target asteroids, mine them of their resources and send them back to Earth, these Arkyd crafts will be unmanned.
It is one of the biggest opportunities ever that could be worth tens of millions of dollars annually, says Dimandis.
Anderson and Dimandis are hoping to run much more efficiently than NASA by building and launching as quickly as possible, but they haven’t said how much the entire project will cost. But with the deep pockets of their financiers, it isn’t hard to imagine that this is one plan that might one day take flight.
Business News with BITE.
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