Company aims to mine resource-rich asteroids
The asteroid Eros was photographed by NASA's Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission in 2000.
April 24th, 2012
07:28 AM ET

Company aims to mine resource-rich asteroids

[Updated at 5:26 p.m. ET] Eric Anderson and Peter Diamandis pioneered the business of sending millionaire tourists to space. Now they want to mine asteroids for what they say will be tens of billions of dollars worth of resources annually for use on Earth and beyond.

Seattle-area's Planetary Resources, backed by big-money investors including filmmaker James Cameron and Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, said Tuesday it plans to develop and launch a series of robotic systems and unmanned spacecraft, starting with its Arkyd-100 Earth-orbiting space telescopes that it hopes to launch by the end of 2013 to identify candidate near-Earth asteroids.

The company hopes to dispatch swarms of Arkyd-300 prospecting spacecraft, which would orbit candidate asteroids and finish the process of determining what they hold, within 10 years.

The Bellevue, Washington, company would then unveil a new system of spacecraft for the payoff: mining precious metal, such as platinum, for use on Earth; and extracting water, whose elements the company says can be used for fuel and life-support systems in space.

In short, Planetary Resources hopes it will be in a crucial and lucrative position of not only boosting terrestrial industry, but also setting up a network of fuel depots that humanity will need to better explore the solar system and beyond.

"The Earth is feeling a resource pinch, and ultimately we will have the ability to turn that which is scarce into abundant," Diamandis, who co-founded Planetary Resources with Anderson in 2009 but generally kept mum about the project until this month, said at a press event in Seattle on Tuesday.

"It can be done, and yes, it's very difficult ... but the returns economically and the benefit to humanity are extraordinary," added Diamandis, who also is chairman of the X Prize Foundation.

Company representatives said having platinum and other metals in more abundance would ensure humanity's continued ability to develop important electronics, and perhaps make them cheaper.

A single 500-meter platinum-rich asteroid would have the equivalent of all the platinum-group metals ever mined on Earth, the company said. And the right 80-meter asteroid would have more than $100 billion worth of materials, Anderson said.

"We can use these asteroids to grow our prosperity for the future," said Anderson, who in the 1990s founded Space Adventures with Diamandis. The company brokered millionaires' rides to the international space station on Soyuz spacecraft.

Planetary Resources adviser and former NASA astronaut Tom Jones said commercial enterprises like this one can do things that governments can't: build multiple, simple spacecraft at relatively low cost, while accepting the risk of losing some vessels, and produce at a higher pace.

He highlighted the potential usefulness of water extraction. The cost of bringing water to the international space station is $20,000 per liter, he said.

"I believe that, beyond the international space station, we won't have a permanent presence in space unless we can reduce the cost of life-support systems," Jones said. "These materials can not only spur less-costly life support, but also generate wealth, which can provide support for more exploration throughout the solar system."

Anderson said the investors realize the company could fail.

"But (the investors) believe that attempting this and moving the needle for space is worth it," he said.

The Arkyd-100 space telescopes will benefit more than just Planetary Resources, said Chris Lewicki, the company's chief engineer and a former NASA Mars mission manager. Schools eventually will be able to access them, making "a once-rare tool available to an entirely new audience."

The company plans to be relatively small. It has about 24 engineers now, and though it is looking to hire, it doesn't anticipate hiring hundreds, Anderson said. And when mining starts, the company hopes to do it all robotically, because humans in space would increase the cost.

"There may be mining expeditions that require humans, but we would really try not to if we can, because it's better business," Anderson said.

The company said it doesn't currently intend to launch its own vehicles, saying it is looking for "ride share" opportunities with other space entities that it didn't name.

While Planetary Resources focuses on asteroids, another company said it's the moon we should be mining.

Moon Express of Mountain View, California, announced Tuesday it had recruited five top lunar scientists to join its advisory board as it makes plans to extract precious metals from the moon.

The company said asteroids have been hitting the moon for ages, depositing the precious metals they carry on the lunar surface.

"There is clear evidence of significant platinum group metals on the moon from Apollo samples and lunar meteorites, and we've discovered evidence for localized hot spots that will help us choose landing sites to practice mining techniques," Alan Stern, the chief scientist at Moon Express, said in a press release.

"I believe that the presence of water and ease of mining platinum group elements on the Moon's surface far, far trumps arguments that NEO's (asteroids) are energetically easier to get samples from than the moon," Stern said in the release.

Moon Express plans to send robots to explore mining sites on the moon, the company said.

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Filed under: In Space • News
soundoff (505 Responses)
  1. pigmore

    Yeah, sure they will. I suppose they'll get Bruce Willis to land a space craft on one and play golf first. This has the earmarks of a giant stock hoax. PT Barnum was right.

    April 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Ross

      The moon landing was a hoax.
      You just do not have the inteligance to evaluate information, you just repeat what you were told, if it makes you feel good.

      April 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Desiderius


      If you're going to make a statement questioning the intelligence of another, you should probably spell "intelligence" right.

      April 25, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  2. Duane - St. Pete FLA

    wait a sec.....this is funded by the hated "rich 1%'ers", I thought you liberals hated the rich???????????? Billionaires are funding this so it must be BAD.....right libs???? you all can't cheer on the "occupiers" and then cheer rich peoples investments......for god sakes, if it works....dare I say....they will get RICHER!!!!! lol......
    Talking out of both sides of thier mouths is a liberal part time..........I fell all warm and fuzzy now....

    April 24, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Projections....

      You seem to be making a huge assumption liberals hate rich people. I don't hate other people, but I don't want them sucking all the oxygen out of my room either.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • r gamache

      Just like a repub. over reacting and distorting. Nobody hates the rich. we just thing they should pay the same % as everyone else. Very simple .

      April 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
      • Tim

        You do realize that as a whole, "rich people" pay more in taxes from both a % and total dollar amount than any other group of people. It is important to learn all the facts, not just those that support the narritive you want to tell yourself.

        April 24, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
      • Stentor

        Tim, nice try. Tell that to the wealthy people right after World War II and all throughout the 50s, 60, & 70s who were paying upwards of 80% on that part of their wealth that fell into the highest tax bracket. I didn't hear them bellyaching about rich people being taxed too much. That's because they weren't a bunch of tea party morons like you. Only rich people pay more income tax than the rest of us, because they pay less taxes everywhere else, so don't give me that malarkey. The rest of us pay a lot of other taxes that you & yours always seem to neglect to mention like sales taxes, gas taxes, payroll taxes, FICO, etc. that the wealthy don't pay.
        Keep keeping up that cliche by the way, of mis-spelling words. It's a hallmark of republicans/conservatives everywhere that they rarely know how to spell words correctly. By their fruits ye shall know them. It's pastime, not part time, learn to spell. Learn something, not all rich are conservatives, some billionaires are liberals. Did I just make your head explode?

        April 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
      • One that knows

        Stentor, it's FICA not FICO. FICO is your credit score.

        April 24, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • GOP = Neo Nazzis

      no, libs don't hate rich people, they just think they should pay an equal effective tax rate.....not so hard to process if you have more than 2 brain cells or if you're not selfish and greedy beyond belief...........although just reverse what you said .....the GOP hates poor people......that is true

      April 24, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
      • Bob Smith

        Isn't is the Dems who aren't willing to accept a flat tax?

        April 25, 2012 at 2:31 am |
    • Alex Gessong

      Duane: asking the rich to pay their fair share of taxes is not remotely equivalent to "hating" the rich. You conservatives are an odd lot. Rich people will still be rich. The people in government who proposed higher taxes on the rich, are rich themselves. Yes, for the good of the nation, they're asking for higher taxes on themselves and their wealthy friends. They understand that they'll still be rich, because they grasp the reality that they used to pay higher taxes and they were still rich. It won't make them poor (or even middle class) and our country will benefit. It's not "class warfare" or any of the other claims that you conservatives make. It's patriotism and economic sanity. Fortunately there are rich people who grasp this reality.

      April 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
      • Hey You

        I notice no one really ever defines "fair share".
        What does it really matter if the rich pay a few percent more – it is not enough money to make any significant dent in our budget deficit.

        April 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Jonathan

      No, liberals don't hate the rich. Look at our heroes. Bill and Melinda Gates, for instance. Warren Buffett. Hell, Obama isn't exactly broke. We only want the rich to pay the same taxes as everyone else (thus the Buffett Rule) and for the corporations to stop buying congressmen.
      I know, I know, Fox News told you that we are all commies who want to eat the rich. It's almost like they continually tell you lies or something. Weird, right?
      Me, I am all for this project.

      April 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
      • Hey You

        "The same taxes as everyone else" -- Almost a majority of the people in the country owe no fed taxes.

        Of course your liberal "heroes" publically state they want to pay more. Nice PR – "it's not us, we want to pay more – it is the tax law". That way they get to be above they fighting and stay "heroes".
        However in private....
        Perhaps your liberal "hero" Warren Buffet should agree to abide by the current tax laws and have his company pay what it owes instead of spending millions to fight it (says he is OK with paying more then his company says up yours to the government).

        April 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Shane

      ah Duane, people vote liberal, and what a liberal politicians? they are rich, now we just hate rich people lobbying politicians to keep their taxes low, and their income high. Now does that make me a socialist, i like to think not but hay ill take on that name if that means everyone pays their fair share

      April 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • joe

      wow dude... that was AWFUL...

      April 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Aroz

      Dude, you get internet in that single-wide?

      April 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Loathstheright

      Obviously you're an id*ot.

      April 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • midwstrngrl

      duane: If I blow in your ear does it whistle on the other side?

      April 24, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
  3. Stevie

    Sounds like a pump 'n dump to con investors.

    April 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  4. Broken

    1 Asteroid could provide a bounty of raw materials which would not need to be sent into space. They would be there and could be used to build things in space.

    The cost of space isn't the equipment. The cost of space is the cost of launching every single gram of the material into space.

    You spent money to launch your first mining system, it mines an asteroid and provides 95% of the materials needed for your second platform.

    You have reduced the cost of your second system immensely. Your third system costs even less, until eventually you are producing all but the most complex and specialized components in space. This is the goal.

    Space can't rely on raw materials provided from the earth.

    April 24, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Sandman

      Glad to see someone is thinking. Get it out of the gravity well. Build what you can up there. Use lunar materials to build the next space ship in lunar or earth orbit. It will be much cheaper.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • bibek

      Another big plus if this works is being able to protect the Earth. This way we would have the technology and the know-how to get materials to an asteroid and if one is on a collision course into the Earth, we could do something to change its trajectory.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • thlix

      Well said. glad to now some humans are sick of grubbing away at the ground like some hairless tree ape.

      April 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
      • thatoneguy

        I agree. Plus, I want my pollution out there in space where it belongs. Who cares if we are pumping industrial waste out there? I sure don't. On that note, the empty ships returning to the mining colonies should carry garbage and just release it out into the cold, dark, endless void.

        April 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Bob Smith

      Unfortunately, the cost to develop manufacturing in space would be more significant than building down here & launching it. While it definitely a possibility in the future, we're not there yet. The amount of energy alone to refine the minerals and form it into a useful form would be prohibitive.

      April 25, 2012 at 2:36 am |
      • Cindy Maddy

        Bob (and others..) When considering the cost of manufacturing and refining the materials in question, you can’t use the cost/benefit ratio established for earth-bound minerals. You have to consider this also: The point seems to be that there won't be nearly as much 'refining' required, as the material in the “target” asteroids has theoretically not yet been contaminated with eons of exposure and transformation (such as gold being pulverized and diffused over millions of years into the ore containing it). Even if the same refining methods are used on the materials brought back to earth, the concentration would be MUCH higher, rendering the whole process that much more economically beneficial. I.E., the ratio of “product” vs. “waste” could potentially be reversed.

        April 25, 2012 at 10:54 am |
      • Cindy Maddy

        And similarly, of course, the less ‘adulterated’ state of the materials in the asteroids also implies that simpler methods of refinement may be possible, potentially rendering processing in space a viable option.

        April 25, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  5. Vaughan Wynne-Jones

    As nice as it is to think that commodity prices will be cheaper, the economic likelihood is that before a project likely this is economically viable, prices of earth mined commodities have to go ballistic. So Platinum may be cheap at $4000/oz over the $8000/oz we'll probably be paying in a few years, but its still twice as much as today's price.

    April 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Broken

      This isn't about competing with earth commodity sources. The cost of bringing any commodity into space (in raw form or as a finished product) massively dwarfs the price of the things being brought into space.

      This is about sourcing materials so things can be built in space and maybe years from now, they will start worrying about sending stuff back to earth.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  6. AmericanPeasant

    Cool article and I like the ideas behind it. Only problem is now we have to mine the asteroids and the Moon before the Chinese and Russians set up shop.

    I guess Newt's Moonbase idea wasn't so out of this world after all.

    April 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • AgentJ

      Yep, we should have been working on one 40 years ago.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  7. Takethisnowhere

    "NEO's (asteroids) are energetically easier to get samples from than the moon".... So are you saying we faked moon landing?!?!

    April 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • CaperwithaCamera

      No, that's not what they're saying at all. They're saying that asteroids, which can come close to the planet are cheaper energetically to mine than the moon. With the moon, you not only have to break earths gravity to get to the moon, you need to break the moons graviety to get back, etc.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  8. pop

    What if they discovered nothing on asteroid?

    April 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • FunFun

      Well, there is always Uranus.

      April 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
      • LOL


        April 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
      • frosty


        April 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
      • JS, WFBJ

        Nah, let's go somewhere a bunch of guys haven't explored yet.

        April 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
      • Natfka

        Who didnt see that comment coming?

        April 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • AgentJ

      They will have a pretty good idea of the target asteroids consistency before the mission ever launches. By calculating the objects mass, and using tools like spectrum analysis, they will know exactly what they will find, i.e., iron, nickle, platinum, etc.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  9. Rev.Christie Bliss Ley

    I always try to have an open mind about things, but this just does not seem feasible, practical, or safe. The cost of getting to the space rock, never mind the mining and bringing ore back would cost an astronomical amount. On top of that we have no idea what effect such mining would have on the moon and its orbit around our planet. We depend on the moon for the regularity of our tides and it also effects so many other things in nature.
    I for one would not have to explane to future generations that we destroyed the natural balance of things by mining the moon. Too many unknown factor involved.

    April 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Dantheman

      Thank you!

      April 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • jkflipflop

      That's incredibly ignorant. Humans couldn't possibly move the amount of mass from the Luna that it would take to have any measurable effect on either body.

      What you meant to say was YOU don't understand the physics involved here.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • AgentJ

      Are you serious? Alter the moons orbit by mining it?

      Whew, needed a good laugh today!

      As far as dangerous, thats not really your call. That's the business of the men and women that will gladly volunteer for these jobs.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Desiderius

      Wright Brothers! Don't fly your contraption! It might cause the clouds to fall out of the sky and suffocate us all!

      April 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Cosmos

      In fact, we would have an extremely good idea of what to expect should we decide to harvest materials from the moon. Predictability is in part the beauty of science and the natural laws that took complete effect...1,980 years ago?

      April 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
      • Diana

        I am definitely in agreement with this space plan HOWEVER, as far as predictability being a beautiful part of science I'm afraid the 'beautiful part of the science of DDT' and how it was 'marketed' was DEFINITELY NOT BEAUTIFUL! Even though I agree with this we SHOULD make sure about what we are doing up there.

        April 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • GH

      If you really want to open your mind, try to grasp the actual science behind the idea. Do some math, and you'd understand how little those of us who do study this stuff are concerned by this idea.

      Changing the gravitational attraction between the two objects by even 1% would mean removing the equivalent of 734,767,300,000,000,000 metric tons (yes, 734.7 quadrillion tons) of material from the Earth-Moon gravity system. To put that in contrast, the amount of coal mined per year worldwide is roughly 6.1 billion tons). You would have to mine the moon for 12 billion years at that rate to reach a one percent loss of mass.

      In short (and assuming my math is right) you should be more concerned about the sun's expected end of life than the impact of mining the moon.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • pozin

      You do know the moon is pretty freaking large right? Mining the moon would not disrupt the moon's affect on earth.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • moon science

      The moon has been slowly drifting away for millions of years... Better mine it while we can.

      Drill baby drill – :^P

      April 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Loathstheright

      Yeah, it looks so small in the sky at night....geeez.

      April 24, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  10. CS

    The thickness of the earth's crust is at least 10 MILES in some places and 70 MILES in other places. How deep is a typical mine? A few hundred feet? A few thousand? Seems like folly to spend a ton of money on rockets HOPING to find something on asteroids when you have so much unexplored crust here.

    April 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Broken

      It's easier to make mining equipment which deals with heat and a lack of pressure than it is to make mining equipment which deals with heat and the weights of the earths crust.

      April 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  11. Logistical

    Humans cause far more damage to the earth ripping it apart while searching for very rare minerals than they would if given the opportunity to mine a "gold mine" deposit of rare minerals on a tiny asteroid.

    April 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  12. freddysaces

    Hurry up, would ya. I need to buy the GF a ring and I can't afford the ones we have here.

    April 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  13. andrea

    Common sense tell us that we should not be interfering with things that could hit earth and annihilate us. keep these nut jobs on the ground, they could cause this asteroid to hit earth, know it out of it's normal orbit. again keep these nuts jobs on the ground, and I would look into their mental capacities too.

    April 24, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Furbs

      You confuse common sense for uneducated sense

      April 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Ralph

      You think before you speak? We will be mining them... meaning gutting them. Whats left would disintegrate in the atmosphere... but more so we could just blow em up once we hit the core... and then never have to worry about them again...

      Or we could use all our resources up on earth and just innovate ourselves to oblivion

      April 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • AgentJ

      'Nut Jobs' like Physicists and Aerospace Engineers?
      Yeah, you are obviously much more qualified to make such decisions!

      April 24, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  14. Keith B Rosenberg

    The technology does not (yet) exist to get large amounts of refined materials back from even the moon to say nothing of the asteroids. At the moment I suspect that this is a tax avoidance scam.

    April 24, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • jayman419

      What tech do we need? Buy a bunch of desert. Move the goods from NEO to LEO, do some math, then drop it in. Go out to the desert and scoop it up.

      April 24, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • AgentJ

      It would be the same exact technology we used to get astronauts back from the moon, silly goose. Whats the difference between 600 lbs of crew, and 600 lbs of platinum?

      We could simply scale up (larger returns/splashdowns) or out (many returns/splashdowns of similar size using already proven designs).

      April 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  15. Hasher Iva

    It makes a good SciFi story, but considering the practicality of it, dumbest thing I've ever heard. We can't even get ourselves back to the moon, let alone Mars or the asteroids. I'd start with the Moon. You sit on top of a 9.2 m/s/s gravity well. It's much easier to get stuff back to Earth. But until we figure out how to be self sustaining outside Spaceship Earth it'll be cost prohibitive. But, the challenges will drive new technologies. I'd go work for them just to be part of the team.

    April 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Mr. Spock

      We could easily get back to the moon, if we wanted to. This is about economic viability, not technological difficulty. There has to be a strong probability of economic return to offset the monumental cost of developing a large launcher, risking loss of life, etc...

      April 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
      • SevenofNine

        I think making technological gadgets at an affordable price would also be nice but....ultimately if there is mass production, it leads to mass waste which as Easth bound humans we have no yet dealt with on a global scale.

        April 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Desiderius

      I know how much acceleration due to gravity on Earth is! Clearly I am very intelligent and people should pay attention to me.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
      • Stephen

        Not even, he could even nail down the approx. value. Its more like 9.81, and varies depending on location.

        But I do agree, reading the comments here I have to wonder how we don't already have a moon base and space elevator with all these experts!

        April 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • AgentJ

      I think that's what the King of Portugal told Columbus. Luckily, the Queen of Spain was a little more forward thinking.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
      • Chris

        Yup, all we need is a couple rich religious bigots and the promise of some outer space "souls to save". Oh, wait... we have the GOP... all we need is some phony evidence of intelligent life on Mars.

        April 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  16. Logic

    Just steer an asteroid to crash into North Korea and/or Iran. Kill two birds with one stone as it were...

    April 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Unit34Ahunter

      Kill most of the population of the Earth too if you did that. So, I'm voting "No."

      April 24, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
      • raawww

        That side ok

        April 24, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  17. BG

    Why don't we send Commander Shepard to mine for us?

    April 24, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • BleedingEdj

      He's is the Pegasus galaxy hunting down the the remaining wraith who won't sign the peace accords...

      April 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • JS, WFBJ

      I think we should focus on discovering the mass effect relays first. That seems like a better option.

      April 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
      • JeramieH

        It's a trap!

        April 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  18. Tony

    Anything we can do to get space exploration out of the hands of stupid politicians; i'm all for. Because we will never advance with those idiots always looking forward to the next election instead of making decisions for the betterment of the species. Mining might sound like some big profit scheme and youd be correct in thinking so. But the true treasure is in learning how to live off world.

    April 24, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  19. c s

    I am sure that it can be done. The real question is it worth the energy cost of doing it. My gut feeling it that the energy cost of doing it are too high to make a profit. Look at the current cost of putting a satellite into orbit. He talks about moving a 100 foot asteroid to earth orbit. Just getting to the asteroid is tremendously costly at the present time.

    Let these companies try; just maybe they will be able to do it at a profit. However do not let the government in any way subsidize it. Too many times we have private gain with public money (see professional sports teams: football, baseball, basketball, hockey, etc).

    April 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • BleedingEdj

      With rare earth metals such as Lutetium selling at $10,000 per kilo added to the predicted shortfall of many other rare earth metals used in everything from cell phones to hybrid technology within the next 10 years, asteroid mining makes sense as well as lunar mining operations. The survey process will be the hardest to justify/fund, but once areas are identified, mapped and set with tracking beacons the call of the 'greenback" will take over like a goldrush in space. The other great thing about this is that it will jump-start the development of technology that could be used to nudge astroids out of earth impact trajectories.

      April 24, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
      • Oscar Pitchfork

        Yeah, and every cubic mile of seawater contains a ton of gold! it really does. you just have to find a way to get it out. Sit down at your computer, do some research on just how many asteroids are spread through how big an area, then, after realizing that most of them are just rock, wait for the light bulb of "not feasible' comes on. THEN go blog...

        April 24, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
      • Stentor

        Oscar the grouch, stop throwing your lawn furniture at the kids playing out front. When you use the word "rock" what exactly do you suppose makes up that rock? Minerals, metals, rare-earth metals, precious metals. See there's this thing called spectroscopy that can tell you what something is made up of by determining what wavelengths of light is not being emitted, therefore being absorbed by the element present.
        Stupid space hippies is such an idiotic statement, I'm surprised you have two brain cells with which to form a heuristic network. Fact is, you're just a hater, so go back to your garbage can.

        April 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  20. TheGreenMan

    Not having had the benefit of my reading glasses with me, a cursory read of the CNN link to this story appeared to be 'Company intends to mine haemorrhoids'.

    April 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  21. Oscar Pitchfork

    There is absolutely no way in the world that they could ferry into orbit, and transport to the asteroid belt everything an entire mining contingent would need versus ANY conceivable monetary gain on anything they could possibly find out there. One asteroid might just be worthless rock. The next one (a month away, space-time) might have a hundred dollars worth of something in it, after you eliminated 90% of it. ANYTHING THEY COULD POSSIBLE FIND could only be cheaper on Earth. Stupid space-hippies...

    April 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • DS

      Ever since Dead Space came out I've said that we should crack planets. There wouldn't be a resource that we wouldn't have in abundance except for oil. Gold, coal, natural gas it's all there. I like this idea.

      April 24, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
      • raawww

        Um if oil is not there how is coal and natural gas there??? They come from the same thing just different forms of stored energy from decomposing carbon life.

        April 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • BleedingEdj

      Do a web-search on the cost of rare earth metals. They make the price platininum seem cheap in comparison. : Rare earth industry in China is a huge and important industry domestically and elsewhere around the world which uses these metals to manufacture everything from solar panels, electric or hybrid vehicles, wind turbines, consumer electronics and other clean energy technologies.[1]

      China's rare earth industry contributes 97 percent of rare mineral trade.[2][3]

      This is a really good reason to support asteroid and/or lunar mining. Some rare earth metals like Lutetium cost 10k per kilogram. Demand for these metals is predicted to expand exponentially with predicted shortfalls within 10 years.

      April 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
      • Oscar Pitchfork

        ...aaaaand each shuttle launch (as an example) cost about a billion and a half dollars. And that didn't include ferrying into orbit any other vehicles, mining equipment, food, water, a million tons of fuel(do the math)etc.CANNOT BE DONE ECONOMICALLY. if there were , for instance, solid Promethium asteroids, possibly. It's worth, like, a billion an ounce But, there's no reason to think that there are. Unless you're a freaked-out space-hippie...

        April 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
      • andyo

        Don't forget that China has talked about not exporting too much of the rare earths. they want to keep them to themselves and boost the price

        April 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
      • BleedingEdj

        Oscar Pitchfork

        ...aaaaand each shuttle launch (as an example) cost about a billion and a half dollars. Space hippies?

        Did you bother to read the article as to the timetable and mission parameters? It's a mapping expedition. The heavy lifting won't begin for another 10 years. Did you bother researching the Arkyd series spacecraft? They're small enough to be secondary payloads on current lift vehicles. And yeah, the space shuttle was expensive and as a result was retired. That's why nobodody's talking chemical rockets/heavy fuel loads needing near-earth orbital positioning. In other words, no"million tons of fuel". see also see Last but not least this is a private venture issue by guys who are staking their reputations on this and trying to acheive something, unlike pompous retro-grouches desperately seeking some sort of relevance by trying to pontificate using decades-old information. Derp.

        April 24, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  22. jo

    Two comments: 1. the cost of mining this stuff would be too great to make it worth while.
    2. I saw this in a sci fi movie last week. It didn't turn out so well.

    April 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Locutus

      And if they brought back enough of a metal it wouldn't be a precious anymore eh.

      April 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
      • Drew

        This was my thought too. If they bring enough of this stuff back, isn't it going to kill the market and make it even harder for this to be a profitable venture?

        April 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
      • raawww

        Um most the metals they would mine are platinum iron nickel and zinc electronically useful metals found un abundance in this solar system. Gold is a product of volcanism and tectonic pressures not in abundance in the system or universe for that matter but if you believe in ancient alien theory most are gold was mined and taken to alien worlds at a reasonable cost

        April 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • challenger

      Yep...just watch the movie 'Alien' to see how well mining in space goes!!

      April 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Stephen

      @ RAWWWW

      You are thinking about diamonds not gold. Gold is an element, the earth doesn't 'produce' it. Like other heavy elements it is produced via the life cycles of stars.

      Diamonds on the other hand are a formation of carbon atoms, its how the atoms are arranged that give it its properties, and its there that extreme pressures are required. So yea...

      April 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
      • Loathstheright

        Er, ah, diamonds have been found to not have been made from any earth carbon, they too (mostly that is) are a product of space,

        April 24, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  23. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    As long as they are doing it on their money, have at it.

    April 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  24. Langkard

    The sad thing is that we could have been doing this 30 years ago, for roughly the amount we spent on pizza in 1980 in the USA. Jerry Pournelle wrote an article about it back in the early 80's, explaining that we already had the technology to go do it.

    When you read the above article, where it says $25-50 billion in platinum in a single 100-foot long asteroid, remember that is just the platinum. There are dozens of other valuable elements to be gathered as well.

    For the moon-lovers out there buying into the idea that the Moon would be cheaper to mine, you couldn't be more wrong. You clearly don't understand the concept of gravity. Yes, the Moon has less gravity than the Earth. But it still has gravity. That means it costs energy (and thus money) to boost materials out of the Moon's gravity well and get them to Earth. Compare that to the asteroids – no gravity (well, technically micro-gravity). A simple nudge in the right trajectory and the cargo will be on a long elliptical path to Earth and with next to no cost in energy to do it. The difference may not seem like much, but in terms of energy and thus costs, it is a massive difference.

    The mining of the Moon is a huge boondoggle, designed to gets profits out of the government, and thus the taxpayers. It has less to do with mining for profitable materials than it does with mining government contracts and public sector largess.

    April 24, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Locutus

      Isn't the American government just an oversized boondogle in and of itself?

      April 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
      • BleedingEdj

        It's the worst government on earther, save for all the others....
        Winston Church (paraphrased)

        April 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Stephen

      I think Churchill was referring to democracy rather then the American government in particular.

      April 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  25. Greg

    Great, now we can go destroy the rest of the universe. I like one other poster who wonders what will happen to the orbits of the mined asteroids. These are the sorts of questions that must be thought through long before will the economic gain of harvesting platinum and other valuable elements outweigh the fuel cost and the plummeting rate of said elements once they make it back to Earth en masse.

    April 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • stan turecki

      your concern over orbital issues is pretty much moot. we can accurately calculate the orbit of any body we properly study many years into the future, and if we could send enough mass to an asteroid to mine it, nudging the orbit one way or the other to avoid an impact would be simple.

      April 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Locutus

      Actually the question is valid. If you take away from the asteroid you have changed its mass. Therfore speed and therefore trajectory.

      April 24, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
      • Lepperd

        No. The force of gravity on an object is proportional to its mass, but so is its inertia, so the mass cancels out. If you go to an asteroid and cut it into three parts, pea sized, house sized and leave the rest, each part will follow the same path with the same velocity as before. That's also why objects on earth fall at the same rate- a lead brick falls at the same rate as a clay brick.

        April 24, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Stentor

      Greg, you obviously have no conception of how truly massive the rest of the universe is, in order for you to make such a truly ignorant statement such as that. If I gave a million people a million nuclear weapons, and said go anywhere in the universe and use them anywhere you want, the amount of damage that they could do with a trillion nuclear weapons would be vanishingly small when compared to the "rest of the universe" and that's 1,000,000,000,000 atomic bombs just in case you can't count. You could throw a couple hundred billion into the Sun, and it would just burp like it had a tasty snack that was a little rich.

      April 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
      • Locutus

        One could argue that any human statement about how the universe works is ignorant. Don't you think?

        April 24, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
      • Stentor

        Not really my Borg friend, humans actually understand a good amount of how the universe works, not anywhere close to a majority, but a good percentage of the processes. After all, we're part of the universe, & what goes on here down on Earth happens everywhere else in the universe. Same for the Solar System, including our own star, the Sun.

        April 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Unit34Ahunter

      Changing an asteroid's mass does not necessarily change its speed. It depends on how and in what direction you move the mass away from the asteriod. Changing its mass does change the gravitational attraction between it and the sun and other masses by a small amount. But the change in the asteroid's orbit is, over the short term (a few million years) trivial, because in the GM1M2/R-squared formula, the G is constant, and of the M1M2 component the sun's mass is such an overwhelming part of the component that changes in the asterioid's mass don't change the gravitational attraction significantly.

      So the orbit of the asteroid does not necessarily change at all if it loses mass.

      April 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Desiderius

      Your scientific ignorance is unsettling.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  26. notyou

    i have to disagree with Diamandis – considering the costs of this venture over the time it would take to be successful on any level, there is no way prices will fall for anything mined from an asteroid, or elsewhere in space, as stated early in the article

    April 24, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • stan turecki

      i agree. the guy contradicts himself. he says mining for precious metals in space makes more environmental sense, but then goes on to saying that ripping off the top layer of soil on earth is no big deal but it's hard and expensive work. if he thinks it's expensive to mine on earth what do you call having to spend $10,000 per pound just to get your 100,000 pound cat d9 into geostationary orbit, let alone visit a nearby asteroid?

      April 24, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
      • Leprakawn

        Stan, your statement reminded me of a quote by Red Adair, "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

        April 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  27. James

    Everyone is assuming these will be manned missions. They will not. It will be robots all the way. We are currently doing this. We have mining probes heading for asteroids at this very moment, as well as rovers on Mars that routinely mine for samples. It’s simply a matter of scaling the technology up. As far as bringing an asteroid back to Earth orbit for mining....why ever would you do that? The robots are going to mine it, let them process it on site. I can imagine two scenarios for this venture: 1. Each individual mining robot mines, processes and launches the refined material back to Earth orbit for retrival and/or a splash down. or 2. There is a central robotic 'mother ship' that manages an area of interest and the local robots send the material there for processing. The central node would then either construct a simple re-entry vehicle or launch the refined material to a designated point near earth orbit for pickup.

    Both of these scenarios would use solar power and mined resources for fuel and construction materials.

    April 24, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Unit34Ahunter

      Good luck with that. The self-reparing robot is a pipe dream.

      April 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
      • Desiderius

        Man will never fly! It's a pipe dream!

        April 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
      • thermal rider

        Self repairing robots are a pipe dream? Cut your arm. Wait. Watch. Notice the self-repair. Heck, they are mostly self-replicating too. But we would need to be careful with that technology...

        There are already self-repairing robots. They are called life. And they are all made of around 100 off-the-shelf components (called the Elements). Actually, most of the off-the-shelf components are used not at all. Probably only 20 or so.

        April 24, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  28. JJC

    This may be good practice for getting to and diverting asteroids headed toward earth. Great idea! Mine them asteroids! One downside I forsee though is the more successful this venture the lower the price of the metals and hence no reason to go mine more. Unless the abundance of these metals make future launches cheaper, which may be the case. Either way us humans advance when we use science and are adventurous. I love this idea.

    April 24, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  29. Dee Brown

    What will happen to the orbits of asteroids from the mining activity itself and from the loss of mass?

    April 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Andrew

      Absolutely nothing will happen to an asteroid's orbit as it loses mass. The shape of its orbit does not depend on its mass at all.

      April 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
      • Bob in MI

        Um, you may want to check your facts on that. Orbits have everything to do with mass.

        April 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Grumpster

      There will be MASS hysteria from people like you who have no idea of physics or science.

      April 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • J.Crobuzon

      Within a few hundred years, some of them may begin to tumble a little as we chip them away. They are way on the other side of Mars so don't worry.

      April 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  30. ASDF


    April 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • sbp

      Clearly, you had a lot of important things to say. Sayonara.

      April 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Locutus

      Do you know you are a tool?

      April 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • J.Crobuzon

      No, you'll be back.

      April 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Leprakawn

      Aww, and pay day is next week. Too bad you will miss out on that.

      April 24, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • andyo

      Go back under your bridge before the light of day turns you to stone

      April 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Loathstheright

      How many beer cans on the front porch of your trailer?

      April 24, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  31. carlyjanewg

    April 24, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  32. paofpa

    Just remember, this takes knowledge and stability. Gold requires the two opposites. Also remember, the first 100 tonnes cost 10 times the second 100 tonnes. Also, once started, asteroids will make the Moon worthless, unless there is a true exception. And if there is Thorium out there, supplies will eventually become unnecessary.

    April 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  33. John Subedi

    hmm ..That true ! but I believe we need to take risk.

    April 24, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  34. Brett

    Ha. Reading their timeline for all this to happen made me chuckle.

    April 24, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Bub


      April 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  35. Unit34Ahunter

    It's all about launch costs. Right now a launch costs about $14,000-20,000 per kg. of payload. Mining equipment weighs alot. Add in the costs of mining and return, and there's no way that mining for 'ordinary' platinum group metals will ever be economically feasible at this time. If somehow a sustainable mine may be set up, then you might expect to amortize the costs of putting equipment, people (presumably) and supplies some place even if you have to keep them there for a while.

    I won't hold my breath waiting to see Moon Base Alpha in my lifetime.

    April 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  36. charlie

    $25-50 billion worth of platinum until it gets down here and the price plummets. The same goes for the other precious metals if they can get em down here. Sounds to me like it's more of a plan to totally rid the world of ever returning to a gold standard so we can continue with the wonderful economic system we're in now.
    Too bad they wont go after the Helium 3 on the moon instead, which would solve our energy problems and really make a difference.

    April 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Amy

      This has to do with precious metals used in the manufacturing of electronic devices. Gold, platinum, and rare earth minerals such as neodymium, indium, etc, are used in those cute little tech gadgets you use. This has nothing to do with the "gold standard" of the US dollar. It's also not about energy. They don't care about the environment either. What they do care about is that China has a monopoly on rare earth minerals, which makes them nervous. The fact that these elements are rare, is also an issue because of our ravenous feeding on new tech. We're going to eventually run out, so we need to look somewhere else.

      April 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
      • Ira

        Rare-earth metals are a misnomer. They are not rare. They are in fact exceedingly abundant here on earth. They are however exceedingly difficult to extract. That is why they are 'rare'. Their extraction from asteroids will be no less difficult than extraction here on good old planet Gaia.

        April 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  37. TheThinker

    First, congratulations to these people who have a bold plan. This plan is the very first baby-step into effectively spreading humanity into space.
    My concerns: history teaches us that, time and again, long-term opportunities are lost, or damage is done, in the quest for a short-term profit. Examples include natural gas being burned off at an oil well, strip mining, and hydrostatic mining for gold.
    It would be a shame if the businesses gather lots of platinum, but throw away that "weird purple stuff" they discover, then ten years later find out that the weird purple stuff tastes like chocolate, reduces cholesteral, burns calories, and cures cancer.

    April 24, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      Try thinking a little more. If they found "weird purple stuff" what makes you think they would just throw it away? What a numb skull. We try to figure out how to regrow a limb by researching starfish, but we'll just throw out that purple crud we found out in space. Stoopid!

      April 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
      • fRIEDmeGG

        WhatWhatWhat, you are mistaken, History has shown that industry would get rid of what they don't know. Or take a small sample back to research but chuck the rest as it is a barrier. The amount of Crude Oil that was burned becasue we only needed the kerosine is tremendous

        April 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
      • TheThinker

        @What^3. History does not support your assertion. The Buffalo were killed for their hides, the rest discarded because the hunters were only after the hides. The same principle followed throughout all human business ventures. Frankly your intellect lags and you have been raised poorly.

        April 24, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  38. John Subedi

    I don't care about precious metals. Go hell with that. I am happy that we are moving forward in space exploration. Hope one day Humans will finally be able to live in space too.

    April 24, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Space pls

      Living in space will always be impossible unless you create a device like a pressure suit to wear 24/7. That would just be annoying stupid. Living in space just cant happen, the environment is too harsh.

      April 24, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
      • John Subedi

        I understand. we need a condition suitable for us to survive. But hey! We can create it , Can't we. It not impossible , its just tough. Today we are planning to go millions of miles to extract minerals from asteroids and moon. Tomorrow, who knows we might be able to build home in one of those place.

        April 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
      • ZD

        The Earth exists in space, ergo, we live in space.

        April 24, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Lemark

      Your missing a very important point.

      Space exploration will explode when it becomes profitable to do it. Anything else is prone to the whimes of the economy and the public. Businesses that are profitable will always move forward.

      April 24, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
      • Viper

        Kinda like "The Company" in the movie Aliens?

        April 24, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
      • JoMama072

        That's the problem. Until profit and greed are no longer the primary motivational factors to better ourselves, we'll never grow beyond this sad period in our history.

        April 24, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
      • John Subedi

        hmm ..That true ! and yes people are greedy. But lets not forget the only things that give millions of kids hope and who can go to bed at night dreaming about space again, like we did. Profits is not our priority and should never be.

        April 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm |


    April 24, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Guest

      You CAPS key is stuck. Thought you might want to know.....

      April 24, 2012 at 11:42 am |
      • Aezel

        Tinfoil hats will do that to keyboards if you aren't careful...... 😛

        April 24, 2012 at 11:51 am |


        April 24, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • H@Omill

      Third button from the bottom on the left hand side of your keyboard. Press it. Only once. Thank you.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:44 am |
      • Guest

        Question is can he read AND comprehend?

        April 24, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • ObamaLover

      Definitely time to stop blaming Obama. Man has been in office for four years and seems all the Republicans and Conservatives would like to blame "this Administration" for this and that. KNOW this people: Obama did a better job than George Bush Sr and Jr. To really stick it to the Republicans, I will further say that Ronald Reagan was a horrid President that helped the American dream be made possible via credit and outsourcing. I will definitely vote for Obama again and make a mental note NEVER to vote for Republican. It IS the part of scams, party of business, party of negative advertising and the party of taking care of themselves. If the world ended tomorrow, I would pray to be stuck with a liberal democrat! Flame me all ya want, don't care. Obama for another FOUR years (I mean, no kidding, we put Bush back in office for four more years and he sucked!)

      April 24, 2012 at 11:52 am |
      • Guest

        I just hope and pray to God that there aren't enough of you Kool Aid drinkers left this time around to vote him back in.

        April 24, 2012 at 11:55 am |
      • Steve

        Then bring on the kool aid! The govenment was a mess when Obama was elected. The Dow Jones was at an all time low and we were bleeding jobs by the millions just prior to his swearing in. The fact that we haven't gone into a depression, just a recession, is thanks to him.

        April 24, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
      • Stentor

        I'd rather be a Kool-Aid drinker than be a tea party moron.

        Fun Fact: Kool-Aid was invented in my home town by a gentleman named Edwin Perkins in 1927 whose wife, Kathryn "Kitty" Shoemaker, was a friend of my grandmother's.

        April 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
      • J.Crobuzon

        Of course Obama is going to win. He's running unopposed.

        April 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
      • andyo

        Enough politics! Take it to a different thread, troll!

        April 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Astronaut bob

      Cool, where do I sign up at?

      April 24, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • JJ Jukebox

      You are stupid. END OF STORY.........

      April 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Darth Kev

      I get the first lightsaber.

      April 24, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Stentor

      Yet another frothing-at-the-mouth Clinton/Obama/Democrat hater. Those who believe that only the conservatives or Republicans have any legitimacy to govern. Got news for ya' bub, Bush, Bush, Reagan, Ford, & Nixon did more harm to this country than Obama, Clinton, Carter, Johnson, & Kennedy who actually tried to improve people's lives rather than proclaiming that government is the problem (Reagan) and then doing their best to make it a reality. That's why, this November:
      Say NO to Plutocracy.
      Say NO to Theocracy.
      Wrong for Americans,
      Wrong for America.

      April 24, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • g.r.r.

      Well, you should enjoy the next 4.5 years as O will very likely be the next president.
      Now, we just need to load on a bunch of fiscal conservatives that know how to compromise: IOW, time to boot out the neo-cons and tea*.

      April 24, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  40. SolidSnake

    I would like to mine HER asteroids.

    April 24, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Guest

      You mean from that 300 lb WalMartian with the huge pimples on her butt? Go ahead, don't let me stop you...

      April 24, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  41. Joe

    Fact: If the surface of the moon was covered with gold bars, it would not be cost effective to go get them.

    April 24, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Bub

      Fact: You're wrong because it depends on the number of gold bars. It's also fact that your fact is merely just opinion, because you've cited no references and have no clue of the cost effectiveness of certain private ventures currently underway.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:31 am |
      • db

        I almost want to kiss you, I'll settle for an imaginary handshake.

        April 24, 2012 at 11:45 am |
      • HPNIII

        It sounds like some outfit is looking for a government hand out. They should have backed Newt.

        April 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • cja

      I think you are right only if you mean sending humans to collect them is not cost effective. I agree with that. But a small robot factory might be able to mold the gold into teardrop shape objects and fling them at Earth where they are later fished out of the ocean. (Gold actually makes a decent heat shield. Expensive but it works)

      April 24, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Joe

      OK, Bub. Here's the numbers. Current estimates for a lunar round trip is $3 billion. Those gold bars you see in the movies (probably your only form of education) weigh 27 pounds and are worth roughly $300,000. That means you would need to bring 10,000 gold bars back from the moon weighing 270,000 pounds to pay for the trip. In all the Apollo missions to the moon, we brought back a TOTAL of 840 pounds of moon rocks. You dick.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:39 am |
      • Bub

        You mad bro? Don't be mad! Just because you watched some Discovery Channel special on the moon and "learned" of that funny little "factoid" doesn't make you an expert. It makes you a naive ignoramous that bit off more than he could chew.

        FYI: Try thinking out of the box, we don't need the gold bars sitting on our lap when we come home – we merely just need to get them here. It takes far less energy to get something off of the moon than it does off of the Earth and through our atmosphere. A relatively inexpensive (unmanned) module could be stuffed with the gold and launched back to Earth with a crash landing. Take that one and stuff it, you troglodyte.

        April 24, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
      • Joe

        Not mad, bub. It just never ceases to amaze my how quick people are to prove their ignorance once they get an internet connection. You ask for numbers, I give them to you showing you're wrong by a factor of 32,000%, but heaven forbid you consider the possibility that you typed without thinking just to make yourself heard. You dick.

        April 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Aezel

      Actually it is, it's called Helium-3 and it's price is seven times higher than gold. In fact, there is so much Helium-3 on the moon that at current market value it's combined value is more than all money that has ever existed in every human economy since the beginning of time.

      It most certainly will be profitable to mine it and in fact I'm always amazed people aren't already after it. Who doesn't want a quintillion dollars? You'd control the market.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:39 am |
      • Buck Rogers

        Helium 3?? Why is everyone flapping their jaws about Helium 3? OK, it's supposedly a great fuel for fusion reactors. And exactly how many real fusion reactors do we have?? What? Speak up, I can't hear you!

        April 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • brick177

      Cost of Apollo 11 mission in today's dollars is $1.75 billion.

      Price of gold is roughly $1600 per oz.

      A gold bar weighs 24.7 pounds.

      $1.75 Billion / $1600 per oz = 1,093,750 ozs

      1,093,750 ozs / 16 ozs per pound = 68,359 lbs

      68,359 lbs / 24.7 lbs per gold bar = 2767.58 gold bars

      That's just to break even. I suppose we could find a cheaper way of getting to the moon and sending material back than the only way we currently know how. Also, Apollo 11 could not have carried 68,359 lbs of anything back to earth.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:46 am |
      • Lemark

        Carrying stuff back to the earth shows a lack of imagnination and engineering. We have simply never had a reason to send a lot of stuff back. Putting stuff up there is REALLY hard and expensive, sending it back, especially unmanned, is not nearly as hard.

        That is an engineering challenge that can be met.

        April 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  42. professionalscold

    Did you just feel that? That was China shuddering.

    BTW – if there's anyway I could work for either of these companies, I'd LOVE to do it. This sounds soooo freakin' cool. I'd jump in just to hang out and listen to the engineers argue – you know, sciency stuff.

    I build servers and workstations...I could do it...PLEASE!!! HIRE ME!!!

    April 24, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  43. sharfulanam

    The asteroids are now on line for plunder ! Human greed knows no bound !

    April 24, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • professionalscold

      Dude...they're asteroids. I would ask if you feel the same way about pebbles on the road. In space it's about the same thing.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:24 am |
      • Bub

        Try more like grains of sand on the entire planet, quadrillions upon quadrillions.

        April 24, 2012 at 11:29 am |
      • JJ Jukebox

        to funny!

        April 24, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
      • sharfulanam

        No,I would not,Because, the two are different and therefore can not be compared.In Space, an asteroid is just like another planet like substance–may be smaller.The inhabitants of a planet, many thousands time bigger than earth may compare our planet with a pebble like you.Understood ..dude ? You have simply missed the point !

        April 25, 2012 at 7:04 am |
      • professionalscold

        Dude, as we have yet to be successful in finding life in this solar system outside of our own planet...IT'S AN ASTEROID! Unless you think that this is the asteroid where Han Solo is hiding from the Imperial fleet. That changes the argument completely. Get the point?

        April 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
      • Mandy

        Right. So it's not greed. Our planet will eventually run out of resources, so of course we should be taking to the final frontier to find more materials. Depending on how they decide to go about this, it's not harmful.

        April 25, 2012 at 8:31 am |
      • sharfulanam

        You have failed to make an acceptable point.,duffer.The comparison was made only to make you understand the difference between an asteroid and a pebble.It is therefore useless to enter into an intelligent conversation with a person like you.The point was 'greed'...nothing else.Therefore,consider this conversation as closed.

        May 2, 2012 at 5:52 am |
      • professionalscold're a tool and you hide behind your internet anonymity. You fail...duffer. Tool.

        May 7, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  44. mark

    How long until they are fracking on the moon? Probably blow it up inadvertently...

    April 24, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  45. soicanleavecommentsonblogs

    Well that is better than one of my childhood friends plans. He wanted to sling the asteroids to earth to make diamonds. He could not understand the concept of whats the point when there is no earth left to do anything with them. Wonder what happened to him.

    April 24, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Bub

      He's running for President of the United States.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  46. Dan

    They could fill the tank up with Newts $2.50 a gallon gas on his moon base.

    April 24, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Bub

      We should build a base on the moon...however we should not elect Newt the Toot as the POTUS.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • brick177

      Petroleum based fuels are useless on the moon. Combustion requires oxygen and using oxygen stores on the moon to help run a combustion engine wouldn't make sense when electrical energy production is cheaper, easier, and less resource intensive.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:36 am |
      • g.r.r.

        Actually, fossil fuels are fine on the moon. You just provide O2 with it. That is how SpaceX launches. In fact, when we go to Mars, we will likely use methane (ch4). To be fair, lox-lh2 is a better combination than lox-rp1, but the later is easy to store.

        April 24, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  47. SteadyDonkey

    Unlimited exploitation with no rules can’t beat that. The only thing we would really need from space is the Helium 3 but that won’t happen till all the coal, oil and uranium are used up.

    April 24, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • C. Smith

      Actually, it won't happen until we have reliable fusion reactors. Today, even hot fusion reactors are still highly experimental, with those that exist today using more energy to contain the plasma than the fusion releases and the reactor can produce. In other words, their power supply is negative. Cold fusion, meanwhile, is still a pipe dream.

      Once fusion reactors are a feasible technology, though, they'll likely replace nuclear, coal, oil, gas, and probably solar, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric generators quickly, regardless of the fuel/energy supply any of these generators have.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  48. conrad

    Past experience in asteroid drilling? Ask Ben Affleck & Bruce Willis to head up this operation.
    Seriously though, mining the moon should have been a priority for years now. How much H3 is up there? With that being said, don't be to greesy or you can end up affecting things here on Earth.

    April 24, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Guest

      What does grease have to do with it?

      April 24, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  49. dotheflippinmath

    @jsmalberis. you have ZERO grasp of economics. Rich people spending their own money stimulates the economy. It doesn't happen often, but that was the basis for Reagan's "trickle-down" economics theory. We are actually running-out of precious "rare-earths." Most of these come from China, and now China, seeing its own need for those metals, especially to dominate manufacturing, cutting back on exports. For those who think we will alter the moon-earth gravity ratio, there is no way we could ever transfer enough material (mass) to ever become significant problem. One tiny drop of some of these elements is all that you need to build a thousand computer chips. As for the moron who's paranoid about "salmonella," you need to seek psychiatric help ASAP!

    April 24, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • rs

      Don't have a problem with your 'dissertation' except for "Rich people spending their own money stimulates the economy. It doesn't happen often, but that was the basis for Reagan's "trickle-down" economics theory."

      What the hell does this mean?? The rich are a lot ricker now and last I looked our economy is down the tubes.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:17 am |
      • BBZB

        Rich people get rich because poor people are spending their money on stupid things like iPhones and cable TV.
        Stop spending money you dont have and start making it.

        April 24, 2012 at 11:27 am |
      • cja

        He said rich people SPENDING money helps the economy. If all they do is get richer it does NOT help. That was the flaw in the GOP's plan. Rich people rarely spend money in the greater economy, they mostly swap money with each other. But going to the Moon requires that you hire a few thousand middle class engineers and support people, secretaries, truck drivers and metal workers and so on. VERY few billionaires actually hire people and spend their money on paychecks

        April 24, 2012 at 11:48 am |
      • DMM

        The rich are rich because they don't buy iPhones? Huh? The rich cheat the middle class and poor, and they do not stimulate the economy or create jobs. They hoard money for the most part. And when they do spend it – well, think of it this way. If rich person A buys a gold faucet, and rich person B buys a non-gold faucet, both contribute to essentially the same number of workers to make, ship, and sell. But rich person B has money left over to purchase other items. For the same amount of money, Rich person B contributes to more workers. So the rich either hoard money, or they concentrate large sums on single purchases. Trickle down, if it ever works, is barely a trickle. They get the flood of money, and toss a few drops to the rest.

        Wonder if that is why the N.T. says it is _harder_ (more difficult) for a rich man to enter heaven than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle? Or why "the love of money" is the root of all evil? And what was Jesus' advice to the rich man? Sell his belongings, give to the poor, and follow Christ. Which saddened the rich man, because he just couldn't do it. What matters having all the riches of the world, if you lose your soul?

        April 24, 2012 at 11:51 am |
      • pipedreamer

        @cja and DMM: are you saying that people like Bill Gates, Ingvar Kamprad or Donald Trump don't hire people and stimulate the economy? Their business empires wouldn't exist today without the jobs they created and the salaries they paid.

        April 24, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  50. Maineliberal

    Iam curious on the cost model to mine and return the raw materials to earth.
    currently the cost runs have to include a massive construction build up and robotics.

    an asteriod is an ever moving target away from earth isn

    April 24, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • C. Smith

      Actually, there are a number of so-called 'Near Earth Asteroids" (NEAs) or "Near Earth Objects" (NEOs) in long-term orbit around the Earth at any given time. While none of them are even close to permanent, many of them may stay in their place for years, decades, or even a century or so, before their unstable orbits fling them back into space. These objects tend to cluster around the Lagrange Points (LPs) that can counter-balance the Moon.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • rickirs

      Makes little sense to travel 1-4AU to the asteroid belt than to travel to the moon where a permanent camp, processing facility and low gravity launch can be set up. A good asteroid prospect could even be placed in moon orbit for mining.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  51. GetReal

    Why did they not name the company RDA?

    April 24, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  52. Aaron

    Thank god for fiat money. If we had gold standards, and if enormous amounts of gold were found in an asteroid, then we would have hyper inflation.

    April 24, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  53. lonecar144

    space is Gods second heaven if we reach out too far without clean hands will get smacked.

    April 24, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • dozedoff

      you should be smacked for spouting such crap. mine those asteriods, mine the moon, mine mars.. mine mine mine !!

      we have a galaxy to explore and mine and its all ours !!

      April 24, 2012 at 10:26 am |
      • dboygetmoney

        LOL!!! That was hilarious!!

        April 24, 2012 at 10:43 am |
      • rs

        Until we encounter space aliens (vs the domestic kind 🙂 ) and its war over resources and God. Oh yeah!

        April 24, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  54. Jt_flyer

    With today's twchnology, If there were gold bars stacked on the moon it wouldnt be cost effective to get them and bring them back to earth. No so for Helium-3. One of the most valuable elements known.

    April 24, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  55. f-ball fan

    My only issue with this is that these folks are using current pricing models to predict their wealth. If these asteroids/moon have the precious metals they are talking about the these prices would plummet with a huge influx on these items once brought back to earth. We see this now with oil. Just a thought.

    April 24, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • lindseyeliza

      But it's just like when the Fed prints money, whoever hands off the money first gets the best value out of it because the market hasn't adjusted yet.

      April 24, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • CA Liberal

      We will be building things in space. Big things that will require lots of metals. Much cheaper to mine metals already up there than to try to haul them up out of earths gravity well. Unlimited resources up there.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Chris

      You should tell that to the diamond industry. There are enough diamonds in DeBeers' safe to drive the price down to the level of cubic zirconia. They just control all of the mines and the flow of diamonds into the marketplace. These moon miners could do the same thing.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:09 am |
      • Will

        You are absolutely correct. The ones who go and get the materials will most certainly hold them for their own gains. They have investors and investors are not usually as altruistic as this article would leave you to believe. It makes sense they would control the material and combined with the enormous expense of going into space and getting it, I don't see the price going anywhere but up.

        April 24, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Mine Craft

      Yes, but the article said that the metals would be used to increase production of a variety of products... Not that they would be selling gold or platinum coins on infomercials.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • E IN FL

      Any minerals, ores, or gasses that are mined will be tightly controlled, therefore the prices will remain on the high end. Think diamonds in Africa, sugar in the U.S, or oil for that matter. The US has massive oil reserves, but sits on them to allow Exxon, Mobil, and BP to make record profits. Why would we be so sure that the same wouldn't happen with anything that returns from space?

      April 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  56. ashdown

    Fact is people corporate investment will be the only way projects of the scale will ever happen. Its about profits. Unless we go to war in space, there will be no government investment in the research and development necessary to accomplish the task of interplanatery travel.

    April 24, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • alpg49

      Yes, very true. Greed is good. It has the advantage of promoting "good" exploration. The current NASA/DOD model is to spread the projects out over many states and many congressional districts, and finance it, essentially, with Other People's Money. In that case, the outcome really doesn't matter, as long as the money is spent (pi$$ed away).

      April 24, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • C. Smith

      Umm, someone hasn't been paying any attention to NASA recently. Look up the VASIMR, an experimental plasma rocket that could get us to Mars in a fraction of the time it would take with conventional rockets. And guess who's developing it...

      April 24, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  57. svann

    Take a care that you have your legal bases covered or government may come along and take it over after you have done the work developing it.

    April 24, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Bub

      Well said, nice contribution and too true unfortunately. They WILL find a tax?

      April 24, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  58. JGeng09

    Space mining is very disturbing as there are no rules or controls. This news broadcast follows scientific announcement by NASA that their test of attaching rocks with bacterias and sanimella on the space station to see if they can survive heat,cold, no gravity and no atmosphere. The answer was yes, in fact sanminella grew 10X. In addtion many pandemics are now linked to meteors that crashed into earth just before the pandemic. A piece of meteor was brought to a lab where they found living organisms inside. The 2nd risk is if they blow off pieces of a meteor to mine to make it smaller to bring back, they could change the orbit and it could crash into earth or another meteor in the belt. Mining precious metals sounds great except for the proven risk of bringing back bacteria and viruses that we have no immunity for as happened with the Spanish explorers and others that killed millions of Aztecs and American Indians via viruses, James Cook inadvertantly killing many of the islanders in Hawaii and the Phillipines.

    April 24, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Wes

      Uhhhh, first of all, there's no "proven risk" of bringing back bacteria or viruses from a meteor, you're totally inventing that. NO LIFE has been found in any meteors, so I have no clue where you're coming up with that information (inventing it?). I think our scientists are smart enough to ensure they're not bringing back any organisms from space. If everyone thought like you we would never have a chance of leaving this planet. Thankfully there are some smart people in our society too, not just people like you.

      April 24, 2012 at 10:12 am |
      • SteadyDonkey

        Thank You, for some truth.

        April 24, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • dmadam

      Where did you get all this dumb information and besides you can't spell. No air no danger.

      April 24, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Fisixs

      Where do you come up with this drivel? There has never been any reputable report of any type of life found outside the Earth. Meteors tied to pandemics???? Please try to live in reality. I have no doubt that life exists somewhere beyond Earth but there is no viable proof as of yet. Such a find would be the greatest scientific discovery of all time.

      April 24, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • rs

      The 3 responders are your typical small-minded types. Agreed that there in no sign of life to date. But "no air means no bacteria"?? Thats a typical brain dead conclusion And as we begin to mine planetary bodies where there is protection from high energy particles/radiation who knows what might have evolved there. So lets try and be good scientists and refrain from hysteria on one extreme and "there is no danger" on the other extreme.

      April 24, 2012 at 10:59 am |
      • Fisixs

        O you of superior intellect, try reading my response again. It had nothing to do with suggesting there are no dangers. It merely was pointing out that no life has ever been found. Perhaps your mind isn't as large as you seem to think.

        April 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Bub

      Hey JGeng09, you missed another pandemic that came about from the crashing of meteor(ite)s here on Earth. The pandemic is what we refer to as the creation of life.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  59. Striker

    Ive been playing the game Eve online for 4 years because its something fun to play and wish would happen in the future. All of a sudden I read this headline about we are planning to mine in space... IN MY LIFE TIME....HOLY S*$T its about freaken time. Im so happy and can't wait to see what the future beholds.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Bub

      You know, you could have left out the part about 4 years of your life being consumed by the computer game "Eve" and just stated with "I read this headline about we are planning ..."

      April 24, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  60. Thlix

    YES! about dang time. once the corps see the profit.. and Fools can see that nearly everythng humanity needs resource wise can be found just floating around in space. maybe we'll final stop hearing folks grip about the "cost"

    like they said above.. just think what one rock, the size of a football field made of gold would be worth...

    April 24, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  61. Haskeli

    If an "infinite" (or even relatively large) amount of platinum was brought to Earth, what are the chances that the prices would hold to support "a single 100-foot-long asteroid...contain[ing] $25 billion to $50 billion worth of platinum"?

    April 24, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Noocrat

      If all they want is platinum, the moon is closer and has much more than earth. Not to mention all the Helium-3.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:55 am |
      • g.r.r.

        First off, ME is going to the moon.
        Second, It is cheap to send a number of sats to explore asteroids and locate what is on these, while to explore the moon means being on its surface. There is no easy way to locate a sensor 5' over the ground except for a rover.
        Third, landing on the moon or launching from the moon is expensive compared to working an asteroid. In fact, it is not even close.
        Fourth, it is easy to send an asteroid to earth, while sending back minerals from the moon will be expensive.

        April 24, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  62. robert

    Please, we can't mine safely on earth. look what the gold and coal mining has done to our water.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • IvoryTowerScientist

      Don't you see that that is part of the appeal of this? We can obtain our minerals in space where our pollution isn't an issue. We get to have our high tech lifestyle and a planet that isn't being slashed and burned mining for minerals.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • ...

      Well, there's no life, and thus no ecosystems to destroy on the moon, Mars, and asteroids. I'm sure environmentalists would be happy too when the mining companies shift their drilling focus off-world.

      Maybe we should ship Palin off to one of those asteroids and leave her there while we're at it. She would have a blast yelling "Drill baby, drill!"

      April 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  63. Lord Vader

    I wonder what they will find when they drill into Uranus.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • g.r.r.


      April 24, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Tim in MN

      Probably just a bunch of Klingon's.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  64. Whome

    The only space we need to explore is the one between your ears.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Beavis and Butthead

      He hehehehe HEHEHEHE hehehehe :]

      April 24, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  65. Whome

    Write it down, "it will never Happen".

    April 24, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Captain Kirk

      *in our lifetime.

      If we want to survive as a species we will have to somewhere down the road. The current vile political environment prevents it from happening now. If we continued investing in space after getting to the moon we'd probably have a base there today.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • djwazu

      You're a dinosaur!

      April 24, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Beavis and Butthead

      He hehehe hehehehe yes.... he hehehe IT will!! He hehehe when they build spaceships fast enough to round up asteroids... He hehehe ... HE HE hehehehe not in four years though... He heheheheheh He

      April 24, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  66. Phil in Oregon

    Towing icebergs to areas where fresh water is scarce might be more profitable – and answer the growing need for water without all that salt.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Bub

      Way to go Phil, and this has what to do with future space exploration and mining? Your social issues delude the conversation, but are interesting nonetheless. Post it in a different article.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  67. Jesse from KC

    Corporations already rule the planet... Governments are primarily made up of figureheads.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  68. Caveman

    Let me make it clear to all of you. The first thing we need to do is put a launch-pad base on the moon where it will only take 1/4th the power needed to leave it's atmosphere which will save in the cost of getting into space. If you're going to do this... just make the moon a MINING BASE. If you have any problems, hire me, and we'll get the job done. I can it done, no problem. You should of put me in charge in the first place. – C.M.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Noocrat

      "1/4th the power needed to leave it's atmosphere" – Leave its what?

      April 24, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Art

      "The first thing we need to do is put a launch-pad base on the moon where it will only take 1/4th the power needed to leave it's atmosphere which will save in the cost of getting into space.
      Ummm. I think you mean "...leave the moon's gravitational pull" not the moon's atmosphere. The moon lost it's atmosphere eons ago.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Wes

      That you said "You should of" instead of "You should have" is a decent indicator that you probably don't know much about science and mathematics, and probably shouldn't be designing or building Lunar platforms.

      April 24, 2012 at 10:06 am |
      • g.r.r.

        Normally, I dislike grammars n*a*z*is. But in this case, you make a good point.

        April 24, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • CannonOwner

      To clarify: whether or not the moon has an atmosphere depends on your definition of the term. Space is not a perfect vacuum. If you were to measure the density of gaseous atoms/molecules while standing on the surface of the moon, you would find a much higher concentration than you would find in interplanetary space not adjacent to an object with significant mass such as a planet, moon or asteroid. The density between stars within the Milky Way is much lower still (as it turns out, averaging 1 atom per cubic centimetre). Even the space in the voids between galactic clusters contains matter, albeit at a lower concentration than even the miniscule density within a galaxy. In any case, the elevated levels of gaseous atoms/molecules surrounding our moon are certainly nowhere near sufficient to produce anything akin to "atmospheric drag".

      April 24, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Aaron

      Yes the moon's gravity is only about 1/6 of earth's. That's great, but how do you get all the stuff to the moon that you need for the mission in the first place?

      April 24, 2012 at 11:43 am |
      • Stentor

        Easy, first you go to the moon, then you set up the machinery you brought along to dig up a really big hole. That's just the first mission. Then you send more people to the moon to erect an air-tight, water-tight sealed chamber, then build ventilation, smelting equipment, machinist equipment to build everything you need there. You have most of, if not all, the metals, & materials you need. Why lug it up there, if you can start small, build what you need, then scale up. Start-up expenses are always the most exorbitant. Takes time, people, time, effort, energy, & money.

        April 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  69. Pete

    What's the ratio of PR People and VC Business guys to actual scientists and engineers at these two companies?

    April 24, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • FauxNews

      Who needs scientists to sell dreams.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • g.r.r.

      All of these guys ARE engineers.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  70. Albuequerque, Turkey

    Well gold is on asteroids for one another possibility is to direct smaller ateroids into the planet and mine them from there.
    Also silicon and if you can do your manufactoring in space that decreases costs by like 80% and reduces gravity based defects.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Scott

      Silicon is one of the most abundant elements in earth's crust. No, they'll be mining platinum, rhodium, and iridium, which are far more expensive, just as useful/necessary, and way too scarce on earth.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  71. Palustris

    It's odd to me we haven't yet started the process of moon mining years ago. It makes such perfect sense. The technology has been in place for years. Probable only drawback was return on investment. That's not an excuse now. That's why these guys are meeting. And I think they'll pull it off in 4-5 years.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • g.r.r.

      It was due to costs. SpaceX's low costs makes this possible. Now, if CONgress would quit gutting NASA, we have be doing this in the next year or two. For example, the house gutted NASA from 850 million for this year and wanted 350 million instead. They wanted to throw the other .5B at their SLS which will not be ready until after 2020.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  72. mcdonalds24

    Why not research or invest in some sort of asteroid net to catch these mineral rich resources? Certainly catching then harvesting these minerals would be easier than landing on a moving asteroid then taking off.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Bub

      LOL, and yes this really did make me laugh aloud. Yeah let's just lasso one of them thar asteroids and bring it on in for harvesting!

      "mcdonalds", first of all it is not feasible with our current technology. The amount of opposite force needed to stop the ever increasing speed of an asteroid would be astronomical to say the least. Divert it? Maybe more possible, but it would do nothing for us. The only way to "reel it in" or to "net it" would to make it crash into Earth or the Moon. I don't think you want the first option, because there's this little thing called "global extinction" that we'd want to avoid. And if you divert it into the Moon – well, re-read the article. There is already tons of this material there and it is what the 2nd company is going after. Let me know how your mcdonalds fries are this afternoon.

      April 24, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  73. supernova

    wait till they find oil in space!

    April 24, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Mark

      Oil assumes Carbon based life forms. Aka Aliens.

      April 24, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  74. Jeremy

    The largest concern with this plan is the distance involved from Earth to the Kuiper Belt ( where the vast majority of asteroids are located)....We have the technology to get to the Moon and back, and we haven't even attempted it to Mars which is a much greater distance. How do we expect at this point in our technological sophistication to have enough resources to reach the Asteroids and return, along with prolonged periods of mining operations, along with maintaining the health of Astronauts/Miners in conditons without an Atmosphere to protect them from the Suns dangerous X-rays? Their are so many variables at this stage in our technological development.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Jeremy

      *correction....we could go to the main Asteroid belt between Mars/Jupiter as well..where M type Asteroids exist. But its still a very large distance from Earth.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:28 am |
      • steve

        they will be going to near earth asteriods, not the belt

        April 24, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • John

      It's their money,time, and effort. Many people believe it is doable. And many asteroids are in the orbit between here and Mars. We don't have to go to the Kuiper belt. The asteroids they are talking about are much much closer. Let em do it. Even trying and failing is good for our economy, as it really stimulates scientific economic activity.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:36 am |
      • Jeremy

        Well yes, it is their money..and yes they could go to the Asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiters orbit. But I am just throwing out the logistical issues they will have to solve along with health issues as well..we see Astronauts on the ISS who have been losing eye sight because of no filters in space to protect human eyes from ultra-violet light. We have issues concerning energy/pay load to get there and back, along with the great distances involved in such a compact environment. Its a very daunting challenge.

        April 24, 2012 at 9:42 am |
      • Bub

        Jeremy, do you really believe they're going to be sending humans to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, or even to a more localized asteroid caught in a closer orbit? These missions will be entirely robotic, your concern about human life – while noble – is entirely off-base, and just flat out wrong as no humans will be going. Learn the facts.

        April 24, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • g.r.r.

      Actually, there are going after NEOs. They will send out several mapping robots including 1-2 to the asteroid belt.
      And they will not be going to the kuiper belt since that is mostly frozen ammonia (which COULD be useful for mars assuming that we do not find life on it ).

      April 24, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • kjfuller7

      Well, obviously, we'll just beam equipment and personnel to the minefields. The minefields will of course be protected by a force field. What puzzles me though, is... if we have the technology to mine space for materials necessary for gadgets we have right now... won't those gadgets be obsolete by the time we can mine asteroids? Why would I call my mom with a gadget when I can just beam on over in a split-second for a cup of coffee? Of course, that coffee will materialize from a hole in the wall, too. K!

      April 24, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Raider

      Who says astronauts will even be involved with this at all?

      April 24, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  75. Bruce

    It cost thousands of dollars "per pound" to lift a rocket into space, so what could be so valuable on an astroid that would be worth it? Most astroids are Iron anyway! Iron is really valuable.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • GH

      Platinum, gold, and iridium would like to speak with you in the parking lot.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • g.r.r.

      Almost all of the platinum group metals that we have here are from asteroid strikes. A number of these actually have loads of platinum group metals. A single asteroid can be worth 25-50 billion dollars. For 1B, multiple asteroids can be located that will contain these. For another billion, an asteroid can be brought back here. 50 to 1? I will take that.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:37 am |
      • right as rain

        Um bringing an asteroid back to earth sounds incredibly risky. Who is going to insure you in case that asteroid crashes into the ocean and washes entire cities away?

        April 24, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Noocrat

      Not to mention Helium-3, the most value substance on the planet.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  76. g.r.r.

    3 things make this possible:
    1) spaceX's Falcon heavy which is due to launch next year. Basically, it is not just a heavy lifter, but it is relatively CHEAP.
    2) Bigelow's new planned private space stations. With that, we will see even more launches which will drop launch prices even more. In addition, it will make going to either the moon or asteroids with ppl, possibly and relatively cheap.
    3) NASA has been trying hard to work with private space to make all of this happen. Much of SpaceX and Bigelow was actually FROM NASA.

    So, where are the issues?
    CONgress, specifically the republicans, are working hard to prevent NASA from Helping private space. They want to throw 60 billion at the SLS for one 70 tonne launcher that will cost 1-2 Billion to launch and not be available until after 2020. They will also continue to pay Russia 60-100 million a seat for access to the ISS. That costs 300-600 million EACH YEAR.
    OTOH, if the republicans will fund 3/4B this year and next year, then we can have MULTIPLE human launchers. Hopefully, next year with a new CONgress that will be changed. But right now, the republicans are seeking to destroy everything.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • The Truth

      Yet another Democrat thug trolling the message boards. Dems think by lying and lying and even more lying about ANY other political party they will be THE CHOICE come November. Remember this Democrat = Corruption and Lies.

      FACT NASA has had unilateral support from both sides of the asiles in Congress. The OAG and members of Congress are looking for a return on investment. DEMOCRATS CANNOT AFFORD SPACE PROGRAMS because they need those funds for their social programs and mismanagement of money.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:38 am |
      • g.r.r.

        I am actually a Libertarian. And it is a fact that the neo-cons in the house continue to gut NASA's spending for private space. NASA wanted 850 Million for it, while the house attempted to cut it. And who contols the house? Neo-cons.

        April 24, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • franklovesfl

      The REPUBLICANS wanted to keep the Space Shuttles running until we made a replacement. The DEMOCRATS voted that down.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:55 am |
      • g.r.r.

        No, they did not. The shuttle was killed by W/neo-cons in 2004. In 2007, all of the production lines were DEAD. The neo-cons attempted to keep it alive in 2009. It would have taken 5-7 years to re-start things. And it would have cost around 10-20 billion to do that.

        April 24, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • SOmedudeyo

      I think "My Unsupported Opinion" would be a much better name for you here than "The Truth"

      April 24, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  77. GH

    I have said it before and I will say it again – the human occupation of space on any serious scale is going to require private investment. Government officials are too afraid of losing their offices over a public outcry of the "wasted resources" to give it a serious go. Fortunately, it finally looks like private companies have come to the realization that there are literally trillions of dollars of resources floating around, free for the taking – if they have the vision to go get them.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  78. iceload9

    Products from these metals could be cheaper today but that would cut into corporate profits. Nice pie in the sky thinking. I would rather they figured out how to get jobs to this country.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • bfpiercelk

      This operation would create countless jobs genius....

      Mining, Refining, people to build the robots, people to build and maintain the equipment, people to work menial jobs at the plants producing all this stuff, massive GDP boost means massive growth.... that means jobs....

      April 24, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  79. Paul

    At least some Americans are showing vision. I hope they succeed. NASA is dead.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • g.r.r.

      NASA is the one making all of this possible. They helped develop SpaceX, Dream Chaser, Blue Origin and Bigelow. NASA is not dead. If NASA can get private space going, then CONgress will not have the ability to stop them. As it is, CONgress, specifically republicans, have stopped NASA from making forward progress.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:24 am |
      • franklovesfl

        Check the Congressional Record for the truth about who killed NASA

        April 24, 2012 at 9:57 am |
      • g.r.r.

        who killed TransHab and VASIMR in 2000? neo-con congress who did not want us to go BEO.
        Who killed private space attempt in mid 90's? neo-con Congress.
        Who pushed the Constellation, but seriously underfunded it? neo-con Congress.
        Who is now pushing the SLS and trying to gut funding for private space? Neo-con house.

        Simple as that.

        April 24, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  80. Derek

    Interesting concept but . . . anyone remember Praxis in ST VI

    April 24, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  81. EP Sato

    I'd long argued that the only thing that would get people into space would be financial motivation. If there's enough money to be made in space mining to offset the costs, space exploration will start to accelerate at an unprecedented rate.

    I hope to witness the era of space prospectors in my lifetime, the new frontier awaits!

    April 24, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  82. cnnlicksit

    I didnt read anything about the science and technology behind 1) HOW will this even be done? 2) And at a profit no less?

    April 24, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • g.r.r.

      1) SpaceX's Falcon X makes it possible due to their low costs. Most likely that will lead to Falcon XX being developed this decade.
      2) NASA's electric motors (with solar) will be used to transport cargo from LEO to L1.
      3) NASA's new suitcase reactor will be used to provide power for exploration.
      4) Robotics. Loads of robotics. NASA's work will be extended on this.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  83. prairiepost

    The real question is how much government money will these guys ask for. Billions in research and analysis with no prospect of ever getting anything off the ground. Another scheme to suck money out of taxpayers pockets!!

    April 24, 2012 at 9:12 am |
  84. RRWExpat

    Didn't anyone of these guys watch science fiction movies? It starts with mining on some remote outpost followed by madness and murder and possible alien invasion. Remember Dick Tracy had a wrist radio and wrist TV which seemed far fetched at the time but became reality in a short time. If mining starts they will find the obelisk and some computer will refuse to open the door to the pod.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Bub

      You brought Dick Tracy into this discussion? Really?? His "TV wrist watch" was the best out-there innovation you could think of? Lol

      April 24, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  85. DRTCM

    I remember reading an article on cnn a few months ago about discovery of a diamond like planet. Thats where they should be aiming at.. if for precious metals alone, it will be cheaper to mine here on earth even if they have a gas station in space.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Bub

      Good forward thinking, it will only take them 800 million years to reach the Diamond Planet you're referring to.

      April 24, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  86. tcat117

    If they can just manage to mine an asteroid it would be a massive historic moment for humanity on par with the wright brother's first flight, if they can do it and pull off a profit? well that's just phenomenal.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  87. brad

    Interesting, I never thought this would happen in my life time, but to cool if they can pull it off. The thing about this is, this will lead to much more inivation that will help with space exploration and navigation, along with new technologies to be used back here on earth. The potential is amazing. I wish both groups success. I will say this though, the thought of minining the moon worries me. Right now we have a beautiful bright moon to look at. After decades of intense mining, will the moons service become dull?

    April 24, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • CP in FL

      I think the moon gives great service.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  88. IvoryTowerScientist

    For all you naysayers keep in mind that these are people with a proven track record for success. They are not just savvy investors they are savvy businessmen, scientists, and in James Cameron's case, explorer. Before you spout off nonsense about how expensive and difficult and impossible this is EDUCATE yourself. We have already shown that we can land probes safely on asteroids more than a decade ago! Before you make wild guesses about this cost of this venture do yourself and google SpaceX- they can already get to space for a fraction of what it cost NASA with a better safety record. They're set to go to the ISS in the next two weeks and they're on track to reduce the costs of their rockets down to a 10th of what they cost now. Look at their business plan.

    In short, you naysayers haven't bothered to read a thing on the subject and you're dismissing this venture out of ignorance.

    April 24, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Rizengrom

      Because most of them so stupid and primitive. They only worship couch and beer...

      April 24, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  89. PhD


    April 24, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  90. wannabe

    TLC will have a reality show about this within two years. And God help me.........I will not be able to stop watching it!!!

    April 24, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Scott

      Well, at least it will be back to The LEARNING Channel instead of HGLite.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  91. Sergi

    Well, if we destroy the moon, we die. sorry folks

    April 24, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Elwood011

      Destroy the moon from putting up a few mines? I know the moon looks small from where we stand, but in real life, it's very big.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  92. KK

    It's ok guys, Bruce Willis will get the job done.

    April 24, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • cnnlicksit

      Ha. Cheesiest movie ever!

      April 24, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  93. coyoteliberty

    It is about time. Applause to these folks, the guardians of the future of humanity!

    April 24, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  94. jsmalberis

    Yeah ... right . The cost to send something up there to catch up to an asteroid , mine it and then bring it back to Earth for processing would be more out of this world than the idea itself . I want some of what these people are smoking's gotta be good !

    April 24, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • TJ

      Uh, considering that many of these asteroids have already been shown to be mineral rich, the profits would dwarf the overhead costs. So no, they aren't smoking anything.

      April 24, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • brad

      Hmm, another person who knows nothing about space talking stupid, no suprise. You can't even run a hotdog cart, what do you know?

      April 24, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  95. Niz

    stupidest idea ever... the odds of landing on an asteroid moving at 300,000 mph is slim... if they do land, the odds of them taking off is even more slim, so lets just spend 240,000,000 dollars for a single trip to bring back 200,000 in minerals... genius idea people. *facepalms*

    April 24, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • Johnny

      It's private funding not tax payer dollars, so hey, if they want to blow their cash let 'em.

      April 24, 2012 at 8:24 am |
      • jsmalberis

        Just where do you think 'private' funding comes from ? It comes from people buying products/services from companies that employ these 'private' individuals . When they spend money they need to recoup it from somewhere . This is when the prices for 'stuff' goes up .

        April 24, 2012 at 8:29 am |
      • Matt

        @jsmalberis And where do you think the billions in the development of the venture goes? Engineers, manufacturing, scientists to name a few. Would you rather that these billionaires hoard their money?

        April 24, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Chris

      We've already landed on an asteroid

      April 24, 2012 at 8:31 am |
      • John

        Indeed. We had the technology to land on an asteroid over 15 years ago, when NEAR Shoemaker launched, which successfully landed on an asteroid in 2001. Given the profitability of success and the backers behind it, their budget for R&D would be *significantly* higher than NASA's was, too.

        April 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • TJ

      It's very easy to take off from an asteroid and hauling minerals on that scale isn't all that hard either. Seriously people here need to learn basic physics.

      April 24, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Reality 101

      You do know that we dock with the International Space Station on a regular basis, with incredibly tight tolerances, right? The ISS is moving at over 27,000 km/h. Of all the challenges of the project, landing on one isn't even in the top 50.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Nivek

      I wonder if they could use this technology to start mining He3.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Amused

      Niz – So, you failed high school physics. huh! Too bad for you...

      April 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  96. coder

    the scary part is – because governments are broken – corporations will take over ruling the earth

    April 24, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • coyoteliberty

      Like they could do a worse job than governments have done?

      April 24, 2012 at 8:28 am |
      • Tim in MN

        Are you serious? Keep in mind that you do not get to vote for a corporations CEO or Board of Directors.

        April 24, 2012 at 11:18 am |
      • jayman419

        Sure you do. It's called voting stock. Warm-body democracy is the reason governments are failing.

        April 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
      • ...

        Voting stock...oh you mean the rich man(read: majority shareholder)'s democracy?

        April 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  97. Scott

    Know what could make this even more profitable? Building an orbital tether. The tech is just about there, we just need someone to invest in it.

    April 24, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • TheThinker

      How does one prevent airliners from flying into an orbital tether? What about the fact that humans would die as they passed through the VA rad belts? Orbital tethers = fail.

      April 24, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
      • Broken

        Well I would assume airliners avoid it the same way they avoid any tall object.

        April 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
      • jayman419

        Yeah, just look at all those dead astronauts. ...wait a minute.

        April 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  98. 1PM

    This just in: Earthlings mistakenly massively mine moon, reducing tides to nothing and destroying life on earth!

    April 24, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • Smarter guy

      And the Nobel for physics goes to.... 1PM!!!

      April 24, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • coyoteliberty

      Buddy...please learn to distinquish between science fact and science fantasy.

      April 24, 2012 at 8:29 am |
      • KF

        Just because it sounds far fetched now doesn't mean it won't become a serious concern in the future. If you think that changing the mass of the moon won't affect its orbit and the tidal patterns then you're mistaken. It may take a long time to significantly lower the mass of the moon through mining, but it will happen eventually if we seriously undertake the project with long term goals... unless of course we're shuttling up replacement matter to offset the mass we're going to be removing which seems highly unlikely.

        April 24, 2012 at 10:03 am |
      • papia

        There were people who thought nobody could reach moon.

        April 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • PU-239

      They have an App for that.

      April 24, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • brad

      We have been mining the earth since humans first appearded and it's doing pretty damn good. We haven't even started on the moon, and even if we did today and reached the mining scale up there that we have on earth, it would take many many many geneartions to hollow out the moon. Gees, I bet you wake up and go to sleep scared of everything.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:06 am |
      • KF

        Its a matter of scale. The earth is much bigger than the moon, not to mention that the earth also has an active core where the moon does not. If we damage the earth enough it simply breaks and reseals itself. But to be honest none of that really matters... because we don't REMOVE the mass from the earth. We simply move it from underground to above ground. Taking mass from the moon and MOVING it to the earth would not only change the overall mass of the moon but also the earth. Given enough transfer of mass from one body to the other it is entirely possible to change orbital patterns. This isn't even giving consideration to the possibility of us damaging the structural integrity of the moon which could potentially cause fragmentation if it were to get struck by a sufficiently large asteroid. If nothing else it could cause a debris field which could cause various problems. Waste control would have to be extremely precise to avoid accidentally ejecting mined waste materials out of the weak gravity field and into earth's orbit. This is also assuming that no one would be stupid enough to use explosives to mine... which is a questionable assumption with these people. It seems like they could making a lot of money right up until the debris field they create starts wiping out satallites and makes it impossible to fly to and from the mining facility.

        April 24, 2012 at 10:12 am |
      • mendrys


        Here are some numbers to consider.

        The moon has a mass of 7.36×10^22 kg. If we mined, let's say, 1,000,000 kgs of moon material that is brought back to earth, a modest amount, every day of the year for 1,000 years then we will have mined a total of

        .0000000000459239 of a percent after the thousand year period.

        True enough, there will be many safety considerations and if not done properly there could be some dire consequences but the risk/reward of something like this far outweighs the risks in my opinion.

        April 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • MakeThemEatCake

      Say their business plan actually works, compare the overall mass of the moon with the mass of what they will be removing. I really can't see the tides being affected by the relatively little that we may be taking home. and wouldn't the material still hitting the moon replace what we take.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:10 am |
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