Tech Tycoons In Asteroid Mining Venture

CGI image by Planetary Resources shows satellites prospecting on a water-rich, near-Earth asteroid. Photograph: AP

A group of hi-tech tycoons including Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt have teamed up with explorer and film-maker James Cameron in a venture to mine nearby asteroids, hoping to turn science fiction into real profits.

The megamillion dollar plan is to use commercially built robotic ships to squeeze rocket fuel and valuable minerals such as platinum and gold out of the rocks that routinely whizz by Earth, with the aim of having a space-based fuel station up and running by 2020.

The inaugural step, to be achieved in the next 18 to 24 months, would be to launch the first of a series of private telescopes that would search for rich asteroid targets.

The entrepreneurs announcing the project in Seattle on Tuesday have a track record of making big money off ventures into space. Company founders Eric Anderson and Peter Diamandis pioneered the idea of selling rides into space to tourists and, Diamandis’s company offers “weightless” airplane flights. Investors and advisers to the new company, Planetary Resources Inc of Seattle, include Google CEO Page, Google executive chairman Schmidt and Avatar director Cameron, who recently became the first person to make a solo voyage to the Mariana trench, the deepest part of the world’s oceans.

Read the whole story: theguardian