Friday, April 27, 2012
Posted by Youtube user: PlanetaryResources
Earlier this week Planetary Resources Inc announced it's intent to become the first asteroid mining company in history. While details on the company's plan were pretty vague, their list of financial backers, was much easier to find, as they were the focus of most of the articles on the subject. Which isn't terribly surprising given it's a list which includes Google's Larry Page & Eric Schmidt, as well as James Cameron, who's also apparently famous for some stuff, but I'm not sure what.[/sarcasm]
Though Planetary Resource's goal is both a fairly straight forward and plausible one: Identify near Earth asteroids worth mining for water and or precious metals, and then do it. Actually achieving this feat, will require the company to first launch it's own telescopes in order to locate said NEA, find a way to bring them into orbit around the moon, and then develop all of the technology necessary to actually mine them. All of which the company hopes to achieve within the next ten years. It's a lofty goal, and given that it's one based largely on technologies that don't yet exist, I won't be holding my breath in anticipation.But I do think could very well be an achievable goal for a company ultimately motivated by profit, as founders estimate their new industry could potentially mean the influx of trillions of dollars into the world economy.
The idea of commercial interests in space is undoubtedly one that will make the ardently anti-capitalist amongst you uncomfortable, and to be honest, I share your apprehension. But if successful, Planetary Enterprises endeavor could also be a potential stepping stone towards the goal of interplanetary explorations, as one of the proposed goals of the project is to develop ways of manufacturing and distributing fuel as well as water to ships and crews in space; not to mention its potential for easing the drain on Earth's own natural resources. Also, at this point it seems all but impossible to me that any government will ever allocate the necessary resources to fund the level of scientific development or space exploration, I so desperately want to see become reality. So even if we never hear from Panetary Resources again. Like it or not, I think the future of space (much like everything else) is largely a commercial one.