Is Planetary Resources An Asteroid Mining Company?
Planetary Resources is a new company that is expected to make a splash next week. The firm is backed by an all-star list of future-thinking entrepreneurs including James Cameron, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, Peter Diamondis, Eric Anderson and Charles Simonyi.
(Planetary Resources: Cameron, Page, Schmidt et al)
The purpose of the new venture is not entirely clear, but the press release fascinates space enthusiasts:
...the company will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of ‘natural resources’.
In addition, take a look at this recent video in which Peter Diamondis talks about his dream job:
Science fiction fans have long been exposed to the implications of asteroid mining; you may recall the asteroid mining robot from Isaac Asimov's 1944 short story Catch That Rabbit and the asteroid mine from Emmett McDowell's 1946 short story Love Among the Robots.
The earliest specific mention I can think of is from Edison's Conquest of Mars, a 1898 story by Garrett P. Serviss:
I shall never forget the sight, nor the exclamations of wonder that broke forth from all of us standing around, when the yellow gleam of the precious metal appeared under the "star dust." Collected in huge masses it reflected the light of the sun from its hiding place.
Evidently the planet was not a solid ball of gold, formed like a bullet run in a mould, but was composed of nuggets of various sizes, which had come together here under the influence of their mutual gravitation, and formed a little metallic planet.
Judging by the test of weight which we had already tried, and which had led to the discovery of the gold, the composition of the asteroid must be the same to its very centre.
(Read more about asteroid mining)
We'll know for sure after their press conference next Tuesday at the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery at The Museum of Flight in Seattle.