Thu
Apr 19 2012 11:18am
Are James Cameron and Google Getting into the Asteroid Mining Business?

Next week, on April 24th, a new business venture called Planetary Resources will make an announcement as to exactly what it is all about. It’s backed by James Cameron, Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, politicians like Ross Perot Jr. and even more movers and shakers. NASA people are also in on it including former mission manager Chris Lewicki and astronaut Tom Jones. Considering the skills of all assembled, many are conjecturing that Planetary Resources will be the world’s first asteroid mining business. The initial announcement claimed the project would create “a new industry and a new definition of ‘natural resources.’”

The head of the operation is X Prize founder Peter Diamandis who, during the 2005 TED conference said “everything we hold of value on this planet-metal and mineral and real estate and energy [are available] in infinite quantities’ [in space]”

He unfortunately did not say “I’m the king of space” but we’re pretty sure James Cameron did. In all seriousness, the Planetary Resources announcement will be streamed live next Tuesday and you can buy a ticket to an event on the Museum of Flight’s webpage, where the announcement is rumored to take place.

In our lifetime, could we see a world where asteroid mining changes the face of our ecomony?

[News via The Verge via Technology Review]


Stubby the Rocket is the mascot of Tor.com and has been to those asteroids already. They are no fun.

5 comments
mike-ptda
1. mike-ptda
In our lifetime, could we see a world where asteroid mining changes the face of our ecomony? Short Answer: Yep.

Especially with China limiting the amount of rare Earth metals available to othe countries. Then mix in the number of people on the planet vs. the number of ipads made to date by Apple vs. the number of people who want an ipad who don't have an ipad. The same issues arise with Samung... and if Microsoft, Nokia, and who's the other guy... they bought Palm?... if all those folks start trying to get back in the game... that's a lot of rare Earth.

Finally... on an Asteriod, no conflict Minerals. At least not yet anyway.

I think for TOR this could be a big win, win situation. New Space news, New Space Ships, New Space Stories, and for your artists, not only is there a lot of stimulating space settings to consider... but...

...wait for it..

...wait a little longer...

...yes, I know it's coming to you right now...

...That's right, Damn your good... Asteriod Pigments for oil, watercolor, and Acrylic pigments. It could revolutionize the whole color spectrum.

...what I'm looking forward to... Plein Asteriod Painting with James Gurney... Can you imagine... there you are millions of miles from Earth, on an Asteriod, Painting in oils with James Gurney... suddenly his brushes starts to float away, you quickly check your Spacesuit thruster reserves. Alls good, you launch, grab his brush, hand it back to a grateful Gurney, save the day, and then get immortalized in the GurneyJourney blog for your daring exploits, and there's even a quick sketch by James himself of you saving the brush...

{Disclaimer: it's been a long week, and turning into a crazy year at the day job...and all I want to do is go home and finish painting a wall mural of Fairies for my six year old daughter, ....oh...and look at the cool Space shuttle book I just got...}

Cheers, Mike
Tim Maughan
2. TimMaughan
Excellent. James Cameron is apprently set to destroy scores of third world mining communities - like a giant space tractor ploughing through a Navi village - by destabilising the global market for minerals.
Fredrik Coulter
3. fcoulter
And where will this streaming be found?
mike-ptda
4. AlBrown
Sounds good to me. And SpaceX is launching a mission to the space station soon. I think it will be private industry that opens the new frontier. And if they can harvest some of the rarer metals, and open up new horizons for manufacturing, all the better.
mike-ptda
5. Clmtn
As much as I'd like to think so, it seems unlikely; if we take the recent Cal Tech study at face value, the cost of any such mission will be in the billions, which -- even under optimistic assumptions about the abundance and recoverability of, say, platinum-group metals -- isn't going to be recouped any time in the forecastable future. The only way to maintain an even vaguely reasonable price level would be the De Beers model -- hoard the resources to drive up the price -- but there's no reason to think that global demand would be high enough to sustain such a venture, and the payout would be too distant. Now, if they could mine HE3 for a working, profitable fusion reactor, *that* would be a different matter....

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