The launch of Earth’s first asteroid mining company was formally announced Tuesday.
Using robotic technology and advancements in artificial intelligence, Planetary Resources — a billion dollar venture founded by X-Prize Foundation chairman Peter Diamandis and former NASA Mars mission manager Eric Anderson — will mine water, platinum and other precious metals from near-Earth approaching asteroids.
The commercial venture, backed by Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, Google CEO Larry Page and Texas billionaire Ross Perot Jr., among others, estimates that it will contribute trillions of dollars to the global GDP.
“Technology is an abundance-liberating force,” Diamandis said during an online streaming broadcast Tuesday. His vision is to make the resources of space available to humanity on earth and up above.
Diamandis hinted that Planetary Resources would eventually develop space refueling stations to enable deep space exploration. Water, in addition to being critical for the sustaining of life, is necessary for rocket propellant.
Platinum, a rare metal critical to advancements in the next generation of technologies, is suspected to be available in abundance on asteroids. Platinum deposits mined under the Earth’s surface are from prehistoric asteroid impacts.
Anderson told audience members that the company has a line of space craft that will be “operational within 24 months.”
“We are going to bring the solar system into our economic sphere of influence,” he said.
The entrepreneurs added that their company would take a page out of deep-sea energy exploration and deep space robotics to bring down costs and increase the chance of success. Their advisory board includes expertise from NASA, MIT, Microsoft and Hollywood: Film director and deep sea explorer James Cameron holds an advisory board seat.
“Exponentially growing technologies are enabling small teams and individuals what only governments and large corporations could do before,” said Diamandis.
“We have a detailed technology roadmap,” Anderson promised, but ”it’s not going to take a few hundred people. It’s going to take a few dozen people.”