Tech Billionaires Team Up to Mine Asteroids

Monday, 23 Apr 2012 10:47 PM

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Tech billionaires, including the likes of Ross Perot Jr. and Google CEO Larry Page, are joining forces on a company that will mine the many tons of precious metals that are found in asteroids.

The group of wealthy entrepreneurs will announce on April 24 a new venture called Planetary Resources, Inc., a company that will use robots to scout asteroids for precious metals and set up mines to bring those resources back to Earth, reports Wired Science.

“The resources of Earth pale in comparison to the wealth of the solar system,” Eric Anderson, who founded the commercial space tourism company Space Adventures, told Wired Science. He is co-founder of a new company along with Peter Diamandis, who started the X Prize foundation, which offers prize-based incentives for advanced technology development.

The length of time to see astronomical profits and uncertain returns have driven investors away from such ventures. But those taking on Planetary Resources include Page and Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, former Microsoft chief architect Charles Simonyi, and Perot.  Also on the list as "advisers" is filmmaker James Cameron, former astronaut Tom Jones, former JPL engineer Chris Lewicki, and planetary scientist Sara Seager.

According to Wired Science, nearly 9,000 asteroids larger than 150 feet in diameter orbit near the Earth.

The thinking is that some of those asteroids could have as much platinum as is mined in an entire year on Earth, making them potentially worth several billion dollars each.

Anderson and Diamandis, who are well known futurists, are among the most likely candidates to realize such a dream. Space Adventures has sent seven private tourists to the International Space Station while the Ansari X Prize led to a spurt of non-governmental manned spaceships.

“We have a long track record of making large-scale space ventures real,” said Diamandis.


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