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Planetary Resources: The Video

Planetary Resources, Inc. has announced its plan to mine Near Earth Asteroids for their raw resources, ranging from water to precious metals like platinum. Using their Arkyd line of spacecraft, they will head to NEOs for exploration and extraction. One of the founders, Eric Anderson said they will launch their first spacecraft within 24 months, and eventually build ‘gas stations’ in space to enable deep space exploration.

The founders of this company say that resource extraction from asteroids will deliver multiple benefits to humanity and could be valued at billions of dollars annually. “The effort will tap into the high concentration of precious metals found on asteroids and provide a sustainable supply to the ever-growing population on Earth,” they said.

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Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Olaf2 April 24, 2012, 8:45 PM

    Sounds nice, but what makes this not be a scam to get money from investors?

    • delphinus100 April 25, 2012, 12:14 AM

      And the ‘scammers’ well-known individuals with quite deep pockets of their own, would escape with the ill-gotten gain to…where?

      This is where ‘due dilligence’ come in, and you educate yourself on such things, and consult those who already are, carefully inspect business plans, just as with any other investment, particularly high-risk ones. People who have that kind of money to invest, already understand this…

    • Jeff Boerst April 25, 2012, 5:52 PM

      The caliber of the names involved…

    • Jose Alvarez April 25, 2012, 9:51 PM

      Who would hire the TOP minds in their respective fields in the WORLD to run a scam operation? :-)

  • Raimo Kangasniemi April 24, 2012, 9:09 PM

    I’m extremely sceptical that this could become financially viable and produce profit in the near future.

  • HeadAroundU April 24, 2012, 9:45 PM

    Is it really sustainable? Wouldn’t the number of people increase on the planet because of it?

    • delphinus100 April 25, 2012, 12:17 AM

      A likely prospect that will be little-influenced by access to extraterrestrial resources.

      “Dear, they’re mining in space, now we can have a(nother) baby.” is a conversation that I don’t see happening…

    • delphinus100 April 25, 2012, 12:17 AM

      A likely prospect that will be little-influenced by access to extraterrestrial resources.

      “Dear, they’re mining in space, now we can have a(nother) baby.” is a conversation that I don’t see happening…

  • Sebastian Frehmel April 25, 2012, 12:11 PM

    Instead of mining the asteroid in orbit (maybe even around the moon), wouldn’t it be a lot more feasable to enclose a 7m-asteroid like the one shown in the video with a heat resisting material/heat shield?
    It would then be possible to land the asteroid in the ocean using parachutes and airbags in order to keep it afloat. Mining could then be done the old-fashioned way…

    • squidgeny April 26, 2012, 8:29 PM

      Easier still would be guiding it into a large empty desert. Slow it down a bit so it doesn’t completely disintegrate on impact, and then pick up the pieces with ease.

  • Damian April 25, 2012, 12:37 PM

    Platinum has some rather interesting properties that would be highly useful to a space based culture. Its outstanding catalytic properties, electrical conductivity and radiation shielding make it an ideal material to built human capable space habitats and ships.

    Considering its rarity on earth and its outstanding use as anodes in batteries, thermocouples and hydrogen catalysts, a sudden resource abundance could pave the way for the cheap mass production of efficient energy systems on earth. Its catalytic properties are important to a future hydrogen based economy.

    However its unlikely that the objective here is to (return) materials back to earth. The point is to find raw materials in space to make stuff in space.

    • Jeff Boerst April 25, 2012, 5:51 PM

      Not according to the video. Did you watch the whole thing?

  • lcrowell April 25, 2012, 1:31 PM

    Platinum might be just inside the economic feasibility zone. However, the question is whether every asteroid contains enough of such rare earth metals. I am not an asteroid maven, but I know there are different types of them, and I suspect each has unique chemical compositions. Each asteroid must be prospected before any mining operation. Somehow the chemical composition of an asteroid must be characterized before any sort of mining takes place.

    The question is whether the energy required, and the costs of this energy, to perform these tasks can be recovered by the resources returned on these investments. The initial energy investment for all of this is considerable. This energy expenditure comes in the way of launch costs, mission costs to prospect and characterize the asteroid, energy costs for installation of robotic mining, and the large delta vee required to return processed materials.

    I tend to think that space industry for the foreseeable future will involve mass-less commodities. This right now involves information, and in the future this could involve solar power. Solar power satellites that are sufficiently light weight and yet stable against solar wind might return energy at a cost relatively competitive with energy markets.

    LC

    • Jeff Boerst April 25, 2012, 5:50 PM

      I’m guessing that these people and their large walleted investors have considered all of this and more in their plans to go forward with this… right?

      • lcrowell April 26, 2012, 12:00 AM

        Then again the Zepellin company should have had a clue or two long before the Hindenburg blew up.

        LC

  • Kawarthajon April 26, 2012, 3:59 AM

    The problem with their plan is if they return large quantities of platinum to Earth (as is their claim on the video), it will no longer be a valuable commodity because of the patterns of supply and demand. Ironically, successfully returning large quantities of platinum will cause the price to plummet, resulting in bankrupcy for this company. The Spaniards did this with gold from the New World, which ended up becoming an abundant commodity in Spain with little value and contributed to the collapse of their economy in the 1800’s.

    • squidgeny April 26, 2012, 8:31 PM

      True, but if they’re the only ones that achieve it… they’ll have an effective monopoly until someone else grabs an asteroid. I think there’s an economics word for that but I’ve forgotten what it is

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