It may take more than a few James Cameron blockbusters to help fund a space exploration program to send robo-geologists to the nearest geologically prospective asteroid to search for PGMs.
RENO (MINEWEB) – A press conference scheduled Tuesday morning at the Seattle Museum of Flight hopes to jump-start what investors–such as Titanic director James Cameron, Google’s Larry Page, Ross Perot Jr. and Intentional Software co-founder Charles Simonyi–hope will be the first “space rush”, opening a new frontier for mining.
Ironically, Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster film Avatar used precious metals mining in the fictional land of Pandora as its setting, and portrayed miners as the villians who would wipe out the pristine habitat of a local tribe of indigenous people in the name of mining the ficticious precious metal “unobtainium”.
Planetary Resources, a venture founded by Eric Anderson of space tourism company, Space Adventures, and a former manager of a NASA mission to Mars, and Peter Diamandis of the X Prize Foundation for advanced technology development–intends to mine near-earth asteroids for PGMs and water, using swarms of robots.
A news release announcing the press conference says, “The company will overlay two critical sectors-space exploraiton 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,” the release proclaims, along with, presumbly, a cadre of geologist-astronauts determined to map and explore mining’s newest frontier.
Of course, those geo-nauts could be assisted by a cadre of landmen and attorneys with new-found expertise in lunar land claims, presumbly backed by experience in international seabed mining property rights. The Space Settlement Act proposed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute would open up properties similar to the way properties were pioneered in the Old West.
Planetary Resources claims nearly 9,000 asteroids larger than 150 feet in diameter orbit near the earth, and some of them could “contain as much platinum as is mined in an entire year of earth.” In an interview with Space.com, Anderson said, “We are going to the source. …The platinum-group metals are many orders of magntitude easier to access in the high-concentration platinum asteriods than they are in the Earth’s Crust.”
And, while the technology to mine in space has yet to be established, its development, in the opinion of scientists and other NASA types, may not be that far away
Within 18 to 24 months, Planetary Resources aims to launch between two and five space-based telescopes (Arkyd-101 Space Telescopes) that will identify potentially valuable asteroids. Within five to seven years, the company hopes to send out spacecraft with a more detailed prospecting mission, mapping out an asteroid in detail and identifying potential geological characteristics that might host veins.
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