Last week a team of high profile investors including; Eric Schmidt and Larry Page from Google, filmmaker James Cameron, Ross Perot Jr. (son of the former presidential candidate), space tourism pioneer Eric Anderson, and X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis, announced that they were creating a company that would “overlay two critical sectors—space exploration and natural resources—to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP.”
Today at 1.30pm it is expected that they will announce their plans for mining asteroids. The idea is to use space-based robots to extract the minerals and water from the thousands of asteroids located in the space surrounding the earth.
The company, Planetary Resources, hopes to develop an entire framework for mining asteroids, including the construction of refuelling stations in space which will split water from the asteroids to create hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel.
However for the time being the development of such infrastructure in space is far in the future, first the company must carry out a period of prospecting, which calls for the launch of several cheap, high performance telescopes into a low-earth orbit over the next two years. The telescopes will then be used to identify, locate, and log the various asteroids surrounding the planet, as well as analysing their mineral composition.
It is believed that asteroids could be mined for water for rocket fuel, as well as rare metals such as palladium, iridium, and platinum. The whole project will be a huge undertaking, but according to the Keck Institute for Space Studies it is not an unfeasible goal for the next decade or two given the right investment and technology.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com