Yesterday, a previously unknown company – Planetary Resources, Inc. – unveiled a programme, which will enable mankind to mine asteroids for a variety of resources, including water and metal. After a strenuous development process involving innovative, new space-exploration technology, the organisation is now potentially on the cusp of launching primary missions to the most resourceful of near-Earth targets.
The programme was launched off the back of research, which was carried out with the intention of predicting the dangers of collision with asteroids within reach of Earth’s orbit. Results suggested that, contrary to proving hazardous to Earth’s population, the asteroids were rich in resources with extremely high value that could potentially benefit us instead. The video campaign that Planetary Resources, Inc. released yesterday claims, “One asteroid may contain more platinum than has been mined in all of history.”
In operation since 2010, the mission is claimed to be entirely economically viable and could deliver a number of benefits for the human race. Aside from the fact it could add billions of dollars to the global economy, if successful, Earth could be provided with a sustainable supply of raw materials for it’s rapidly expanding population. Not only this, but if water could be extracted from asteroids and refined to produce fuel, the potential to further space missions via additional asteroid-based ‘fuel stops’ is increased tremendously. Planetary Resources, Inc. co-founder, Eric Anderson, embraced this potential, referring to asteroids as “the low-hanging fruit of the solar system” in an interview with Space.com.
The collective of people behind the company are wide-ranging, including Google-executives, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, planetary scientist and NASA astronaut, Tom Jones, ex-NASA Mars mission manager, Chris Lewicki and bizarrely (though not unexpectedly), film director, James Cameron. With a selection of experts and multi-millionaires like these at the helm, hopes for what Planetary Resources, Inc. could do for Earth have been set higher than ever.
Perhaps it’s worth noting that, contrary to current online consensus, all of Earth’s problems are not necessarily solved just yet.