Mining asteroids? Let's go, some say

April 21, 2012 at 12:54 PM   |   Comments

SEATTLE, April 21 (UPI) -- A group based in Seattle with serious credentials said it is time to start a mining company that would go after resources flying through space on asteroids.

The group has announced the launch of the company Planetary Resources Inc., which would find a way to send either robots or astronauts into space to mine asteroids, potentially bringing back iron or nickel or other materials, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

Some of the earthlings involved in the venture include Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson, who have been working on options for commercializing trips into space. Diamandis has also been a backer for the Ansari X-Prize, which involves a competition to explore space without government assistance.

"I believe that opening up the resources of space for the benefit of humanity is critical," Diamandis said in an interview with Forbes magazine this year.

Others involved in the project are a "who's who" of corporate clout and those with serious disposable incomes, such as Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, filmmaker James Cameron, and former Microsoft executive Charles Simonyi, who has made two trips to space.

Google director Ram Shiram is involved, as is Ross Perot Jr., son of Texas billionaire Ross Perot.

Notably, one of Cameron's films is "Avatar," which is the story of a mining company deposing a native group on a fictional planet for mining purposes.

The company's president and chief engineer is Chris Lewicki, a former NASA Mars mission manager, the Journal said.

And how does one propose to mine an asteroid cruising the galaxy in an orbit that goes into distant space?

Remember "It's A Wonderful Life," where Jimmy Stewart's character says romantically he would "lasso the moon for you, Mary."

Somewhat similar to that, one proposal for asteroid mining is to steer it toward the moon, where it would become attached to the moon's gravity and switch from its standard flight path to one that orbits the moon.

The company is officially unveiling its plans at a press event in Seattle scheduled for Tuesday, the Journal said.

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