Arkyd Spacecraft To Hunt Asteroid Platinum, Water

The Arkyd line of spacecraft will be the tools that Planetary Resources will use to hunt for platinum and water on asteroids. This was announced today at the Space Gallery in the Museum of Flight in Seattle by Peter Diamandis, who is also the CEO of the X-Prize Foundation.

The Planetary Resources firm will kick off its space exploration efforts by launching the Arkyd series 100 LEO spacecraft, which will act as specialized telescopes to perform asteroid prospecting.


(Arkyd series 100 LEO spacecraft)

Leo is the first private space telescope and a stepping-stone to near-Earth asteroids. This space telescope, utilized in low Earth orbit, represents the next milestone on our technology development roadmap.

Planetary Resources’ near-term goals are to dramatically reduce the cost of asteroid exploration. We will combine the best practices of commercial aerospace innovation, operational adaptability, and rapid manufacturing to create robotic explorers that cost an order of magnitude less than current systems. We will control costs by constraining scope and creating simple designs that can be executed by a small, expert team. And although we will hold ourselves to the highest standards and practices, we will aggressively accept mission risk where appropriate.

While much of Planetary Resources’ technology is proprietary, our technological approach is driven by a few simple principles to enable innovation in cost. We are incorporating recent innovations in commercial microelectronics, medical devices, and information technology, in ways not traditionally used by robotic spacecraft.

Once suitable targets for exploration have been identified, Planetary Resources will launch its Arkyd series 100 LEO spacecraft, which are powered craft for exploration.


(Arkyd series 100 Interceptor spacecraft)

Adding propulsion capabilities and additional scientific instrumentation to the Leo Space Telescope enables an Earth-crossing asteroid Interceptor mission. Several undiscovered asteroids are seen for the first time as they routinely cross through Earth’s neighborhood. By hitching a ride with a launched satellite headed for a geostationary orbit, Interceptor will be well positioned to fly-by and collect data on these new targets of opportunity.

Two or more Interceptors can work together as a team to potentially identify, track and fly-by the asteroids that travel between the Earth and our Moon. The closest encounters may result in a planned spacecraft “intercept,” providing the highest-resolution data, similar to how government efforts first explored the Moon with the Ranger missions (1961-65) and later with the Deep Impact mission at Comet 9P/Tempel (2005).

Science fiction readers are avidly awaiting more developments from Planetary Resources. SF fans of course recall Robert Heinlein's wonderful 1939 short story Misfit, which vividly describes the process of locating and then moving an asteroid to a desired location. Raymond Z. Gallun wrote at least three stories about asteroid exploration, including the 1951 novella Asteroid of Fear.

Garrett Serviss surpassed them all, however, by writing about asteroid mining (and finding a golden asteroid!) in his 1898 novel Edison's Conquest of Mars.

From Planetary Resources.

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