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Is asteroid mining about to begin?



April 23, 2012 – Comments (15)

Is asteroid mining about to begin?

Planetary Resources, a new player in the commercial space industry, is backed by a host of tech and aerospace luminaries with an integrated personal net worth on the far side of US$30 billion. A press release from the company hints that it will look to establish asteroid mining operations in space.

The President and Chief Engineer of the new company is Chris Lewicki, president of Arkyd Astronautics and former NASA Phoenix Mars Lander mission manager. A press release states, "the company will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of natural resources."

Is asteroid mining about to begin?


I think this is a neat idea but have no real input to offer. Enjoy!


P.S. - I think Bruce Willis has some skin in this game. :)

15 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On April 24, 2012 at 12:52 PM, lemoneater (57.45) wrote:

I would think that startup costs would be astronomical.

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#2) On April 24, 2012 at 1:06 PM, eksummers620 (72.67) wrote:

We really haven't even started mining our ocean floors yet. (OMEX has some partnerships in ocean mining, however.)

 I think it makes sense to mine earth before we mine space.

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#3) On April 24, 2012 at 1:34 PM, Jbay76 (< 20) wrote:

Avatar in the making...hehehe

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#4) On April 24, 2012 at 1:52 PM, Turfscape (< 20) wrote:

>>I would think that startup costs would be astronomical.<<

+1 for that awesome line! I always appreciate good word play.

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#5) On April 24, 2012 at 3:42 PM, lemoneater (57.45) wrote:

:) Thanks, Turfscape.

Cato, my husband really enjoyed the article as I knew he would. Both of us have read Farmer in the Sky and other Heinlein classics. My favorite is Citizen of the Galaxy.

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#6) On April 24, 2012 at 3:53 PM, setht23 (68.25) wrote:

I would think mining space would actually be cheaper than mining the ocean floor. There is a reason we've mapped our solar system and reached the moon before putting a man on the ocean floor.

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#7) On April 24, 2012 at 3:56 PM, EnigmaDude (58.54) wrote:

The rewards will be universal with stellar prospects for future growth!  (I would love to write the financial reports for these guys)

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#8) On April 24, 2012 at 4:25 PM, JaysRage (78.11) wrote:

Interesting read.    I actually wonder more about "ownership" issues more than profitability.   How can someone claim to own the rights to mine an asteroid afterall?  

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#9) On April 24, 2012 at 4:37 PM, Schmacko (91.82) wrote:

I imagine in terms of asteroids, possession will be 9/10ths of the law in regards to ownership.

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#10) On April 24, 2012 at 4:41 PM, DJDynamicNC (41.71) wrote:

I believe all of the spacefaring nations signed an agreement preventing them from "owning" anything in space, but no corporation signed any such agreement. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out. If an American conglomerate begins mining asteroids, the other nations will complain, of course, but what can they really do?

It's going to be a fascinating decade. :)

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#11) On April 24, 2012 at 5:01 PM, VoiceintheCrowd (< 20) wrote:

This strikes me as illogical.  Asteroid mining will happen eventually, but that enterprise will not be ready within the next generation or more.

 The infrastructure and technological ecosystem necessary to support asteroid mining do not exist yet.  Remember that the current energy cost of getting any material of any significant weight out of Earth's gravity well is prodigious.  There are proposals that could reduce that cost by an order of magnitude, but those proposals are themselves the stuff of science fiction, and the technological ecosystem necessary for those are even still the stuff of science fiction.  For example, on many cutting-edge technology sites, you can find exploration of the concept of building a space elevator, crazy as that sounds to someone who's never heard it before.  That could reduce the energy cost of reaching orbit by 98%, by some estimates (you also wouldn't get there in minutes the way the space shuttle did, of course).  Doing so would require the development of materials with tensile strength sufficient to handle the incredible torsion of the Earth's rotation stretched out that far.  Carbon nanotubes are the most promising such development in materials science in recent years, but no one has developed a way to economically mass produce them for commercial use, despite the incredible financial potential of such a development for more ordinary applications as well as space elevators.  If someone figures that out, they or someone else would still face the challenge of actually designing and building the elevator, even if the materials to do so existed.  This kind of thing is not a project for our generation.

Without the infrastructure and technological ecosystem to support it, an asteroid mining operation right now would be about as much use as an iPhone in 1960, or a diesel engine in 1600.

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#12) On April 24, 2012 at 5:21 PM, dividendsrus (37.74) wrote:

I'm not sure why they're talking about it, but I hope they go public soon so I can short it.  They could call the company Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and it would have an obvious and appropriate ticker symbol.

I don't think it is that straightforward though.  This announcement is a curveball of some kind intended to influence public policy related to private spaceships in some way or at least get a discussion going (like is on this board).  It doesn't seem like they are looking for investors.


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#13) On April 24, 2012 at 5:48 PM, DJDynamicNC (41.71) wrote:

:lol: +1 for the Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds shot.

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#14) On April 24, 2012 at 6:18 PM, Frankydontfailme (28.84) wrote:

Call me a complete loon, but the thought crossed my mind that this  story was planted to scare gold bugs lol (we're getting real paranoid huh)

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#15) On April 25, 2012 at 12:51 AM, catoismymotor (< 20) wrote:


I'm glad you and your hubby enjoyed the link.

Everyone Else,

Thanks for the feedback, funny or otherwise.

- Cato, AKA: Major Tom


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