Film maker James Cameron along with others including Google CEO Larry Page and Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, former Microsoft executive Charles Simonyi, former presidential candidate’s son Ross Perot Jr., personal spaceflight industry leader Peter Diamandis and others have announced the inauguration of Planetary Resources on April 24, 2012. The company, formerly known as Arkyd Astronautics, will develop and deploy commercial asteroid mining technologies to expand earth’s natural resource base.
A single small asteroid can contain trillions of dollars in gold, platinum, iron, zinc, aluminum, and other minerals. The team plans to launch a telescope into space to search for asteroids suitable for mining within two years. This hunting telescopes would only be a couple of feet long, weighs only a few kilograms, and small enough to be held in the palm. With the current technology, the cost of bringing minerals back from an asteroid to Earth are a lot. According to the estimate, it would approximately cost $10 million (£6.2 million). This won’t help the investors to make a lot profit; rather it would be a loss for them comparing the market price value of minerals. For more, click here.
“It is the stuff of science fiction, but like in so many other areas of science fiction, it’s possible to begin the process of making them reality,” said former astronaut Thomas Jones, who is an adviser to the Planetary Resources Inc of Seattle company.
On the other side, a big question rises : Is it legal bringing the minerals back from an asteroid to Earth? In the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, it is written in Article II that, “Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.” This is a tricky part. Does it mean that private companies can mine asteroids because the passage clearly bans national governments from claiming territory in space, but it doesn’t mention private actors.
“Are these guys willing to spend trillions?” Don Brownlee asked. “Space is really expensive.”
Well, lot of issues are not clear yet. Hope, we will get the answer very soon.
For now, take a look at what the Planetary Resources team have to say.