Planetary Resources: ready to rock
Two years ago, a group of tech billionaires announced Planetary Resources, a humble mission to mine asteroids. While the public shook their heads, anyone who glanced at those involved – Eric Anderson from Space Adventures, Peter Diamandis of the X-Prize Foundation, former Microsoft chief architect Charles Simonyi, Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, and Avatar director James Cameron – knew we’d be hearing about this again.
The aim is to harvest platinum, palladium, osmium and iridium (no unobtainium, alas) for use in laptops, solar panels and mobiles. Indeed, an asteroid’s top few feet can contain $6bn of platinum.
The first step, however, is picking a rock. Over the next two years the group will launch a fleet of telescopes to scope out potentials. By 2020, it plans to build an orbital fuel depot to allow spacecraft to fill up on liquid hydrogen and oxygen mined from asteroids, allowing them to shuttle back and forth without descending.