Plan­e­tary Re­sources: ready to rock

Australian T3 - - OPINION -

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.

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