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.

Post by: ,
Filed under: In Space • News
soundoff (505 Responses)
  1. Joe "The Connector" Kennedy

    I would think that CNN would get this right, but James Cameron is an advisor to this project, not an investor.

    April 26, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  2. Craig Doug

    I heard this is the first step to, ultimately, trying to drill for oil on Uranus.

    April 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  3. Piranha

    I hope these Asteroids are not impregnated with Toxic Alien microbes. The dinosaurs got wiped out when an alleged asteroid hit the earth, now we are bringing these asteroids here intact, any alien lifeform may survive the trip unlike slamming asteroid to Earth and vaporizing them. Are these scientists and business/government and the military looking for new materials or another form biological weapons systems? Think about it.

    April 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  4. Emily

    This was SO informational!

    April 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  5. Soothsayer

    Stop reaping potential investor for the next decade in order to get them to invest in advancement of rocket technology.
    Should just leave it to NASA.
    The current rocket technology can only do so much.Please don't forget an asteroid is not moving as slow as a planet.

    Nice try.I only liked the sound of asteroid mining it sounded like year 2080.

    April 25, 2012 at 5:09 am |
  6. briffault

    .....this has got bad idea written all over it.

    April 25, 2012 at 1:50 am |
  7. Prof. chaz floyd

    It's about time. we've wasted over 60 years it's time to get back to work. we only have a certon amount of time on this planet befor the sun goes red giant and if were not proficient in space travil we are doomed. theres only 2 possibilities we stay here and die or find a new world to go to , there can't be a star trek without sone place to go to. that should be our number 1 priority.

    April 25, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  8. Codifex

    What happens when the trajectory of said NEO is modified and it becomes a danger to EARTH? Who pays to divert the rock or the pieces left over from the mining operations?

    April 24, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  9. Haliburton

    So does this mean we get to bomb more brown people for oil?

    April 24, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  10. david

    This should be one item that exists because of research done in space. One.
    And for $20,000 per liter of water to keep people up there, you call that a good investment?

    April 24, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • malkav

      if you look at their website, there will be all unmanned, they are planning to send one telescope robot on 2013, and then a swarm of scanner robots withing 10 years to orbit and scan the candidate meteors, only after that they will send the miner robots.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • Codifex

      I might say better geo mapping at the very least. Maybe crystal growth research holds promise. Also, why do we need to take up fresh water beyond a reasonable amount? After all, it can be recycled in space just like the O2.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  11. Space Cowboy

    I say lasso them and drag them back to earth to mine. We need more jobs on earth. Them %#*^% robots are going to take all our jobs!

    April 24, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Guinness Brothers


      April 24, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Codifex

      The last thing we need is more NEO's under the control of firms with no compunction about leaving pieces of rocks haphazardly flying in orbits that might threaten earth.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
  12. Peter Wolfe

    I like the overall premise of the idea to drill on asteroids and the moon personally! I'll also admit that I don't have the background in physics nor aerospace engineering just am a big supporter of scientific knowledge myself! If you look at China, they have 95% of all of the rare minerals in Africa and that to me is something to be weary of myself cause I don't trust them. The chinese economics rep for east of the Mississippi River in the U.S.a out of NY from Honk Kong shows the mighty strength in econ dev. By the way, I wish that more money was spent on health innovations to make health advances in parts and equipments cheaper and more affective and lastly to find a cure for blindness e.g. stem cell funding and other technologies or metholodologies for people like me!

    April 24, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  13. Mark

    If you can mine the asteroids you can nudge them onto different tragectories. The world has never known the potential for terrorism like the kind a few million tons of asteroid can bring.

    April 24, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Codifex

      Hear hear! The possibilities of a Extinction Level Event being CAUSED by an accidental nudging are downright TERRIFYING!

      April 24, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
  14. Rocket Surgeon

    Only 160 80 meter asteroids and we could pay off the deficit, sweet!

    April 24, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  15. malkav

    Those guys make me proud of being a human being!

    April 24, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  16. Sharp

    In mining the moon you would have to deal with the Moon's larger gravity well. Of course the distance to the asteroids might well offset that disadvantage.

    April 24, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
  17. srichey321

    Gotta start somewhere I guess.

    April 24, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  18. Josh

    Anyone else find it Ironic that James Cameron – who wrote and directed the film Avatar, which outlined the evils of mining non-renewable resources from celestial bodies for economic gain – would be investing in an effort to start doing the exact same thing he portrayed as foresighted and lacking sustainability?

    April 24, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • show me the platinum

      Asteroids are generally not inhabited.

      The climate sucks.

      April 24, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Codifex

      Right the climate does pose a problem to life but... it is an interesting observation.

      April 24, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  19. show me the platinum

    I hope they find an alien Gilligan on one of those asteroids.

    "rescued at last"

    April 24, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  20. show me the platinum

    They used to say: "it ain't rocket science."

    Now they will say: "it ain't asteroid mining science."

    April 24, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  21. Joe

    If we treat space anything like we treat the earth, then it will be a sad day when these commercial operations go into effect. We are destroying our planet – stripping it of its resources and polluting it like a disease. All in the name of profits. There is plenty of resources for everybody. Nobody has to be homeless. Nobody has to live in poverty. Nobody has to die of preventable disease. Capitalism creates artificial scarcity so that some must suffer so others can prosper. But it does not have to be this way. We invented this evil corrupt system. We can invent a better one. Another world is possible.

    April 24, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • srichey321

      Thank you Joe. Call us when the shuttle has landed.

      April 24, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  22. lcch

    Wow, very clever stuff!! Very exciting! Now someone just needs to follow through already! If this stuff can actually happen, the future actually looks bright for the human race

    April 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  23. Vidallius

    It all seems stupid to me.

    April 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  24. right as rain

    At $10,000 a lb to get stuff into orbit, and more expensive to get to any asteroid, they had better be mining pure platinum if they want a profit. Of course, they will also crash the price if they try to sell a lot of it.

    April 24, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  25. ishiibrad

    If they bring back a virus that wipes out half the earth within the rocks will they pay for that also ?

    April 24, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • Desiderius

      Because a virus that can not only infect humans, but be extremely fatal to them, is completely likely to evolve on an asteroid that has existed in the vacuum of space for billions of years.

      April 24, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  26. Charles Michael Reed

    Sorry for the typo's folks. This is a first timer mistake.

    April 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  27. Charles Michael Reed

    MThis is as exciting as when the Spainish gained worldwide envy after discovering gold and jewels in South America.
    I have been expecting that in the future that since the Space Program became corporate.
    If I could be part of this I would greatly appreciate.

    Mike (Charles Michael Reed)

    April 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  28. itoldyouso10

    It may seem far fetched now, but just think of how "astro-economics" could be the next step for stabilizing the economy of the world? Yes it costs a lot and it would take a while to get going, but if we have maxed out the planet, then maybe it is time to take advantage of of opportunities out there, AS LONG AS WE ARE CAREFUL AND HAVE LEARNED THE LESSONS OF OVER EXPLOITATION AND EXPLORATION OF THE PAST. Personally, I feel if it is nothing but a dead rock with minerals, then it would be better to take advantage of that then continuously strip mining our world...

    April 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Codifex

      I've got no problem with mining asteroid so long as they make sure none of them hit the earth.

      April 25, 2012 at 12:02 am |
  29. pete

    I've had asteroids. No thanks!

    April 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  30. thermal rider

    Many right-thinking-people on this list remind me of the following quote:

    “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded- here and there, now and then- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.".”

    Robert Anson Heinlein

    April 24, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • show me the platinum

      The right thinking people are the ones who are profiting from the status quo.

      They are usually called Conservatives. Taking it upon themselves to use the term loosely.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  31. flatty

    That's all we need. Some lunkhead mineral company setting off an accidental explosion which sends one of those asteroids hurtling into earth.

    April 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  32. 5y5y5rcghchchfh

    This is finanacially possible. This is extremly off the cuff math, keep that in mind.

    I dont think a stripped 'return capsule', one use, not designed to support humans, just a dumb tank, could be done for around 10-16 mill, cost to a NEO bulk with launch costs.

    This rough estimate comes from the cost of a falcon 9(~27 million), and the weight of a dragon capsule(~13000 lbs). Falcon 9 can launch ~21000 lbs. Something stripped down, not designed to be reusable, not designed to be human rated, and not designed to return anything safely could easily be half the weight and way less cost. You could launch at least 3 on one falcon 9 which is 9 million per to launch.

    Add in a million for the capsule, mass produced to get to 10 million. We dont need much to return anything, a heat shield to keep the thing mostly in tact, a super structure, maily to house a parachute, a simple decent rocket to nudge it into earths atmoshphere and some simple electronics to eject a cute. A crash landing is just fine, we arent returning people. We just want to slow it down and keep it mostly intact.

    You are also gonna need some navigation and a booster to get from LEO to a NEO, but we have a really light vehicle and cheap vehicle. This shoudln't cost too much say another million of stuff.

    Lets add on 3 more for whatever else and just call it 15 million fro a return capsule.

    Put 2000 lbs of platinum in it thats 64 million of payload. 4:1 ROI. We sould be able to stuff a lot more then 2000 pounds into it tho. We are talking dense elements, i think 4,000 lbs shoudl be easily doable for a cheap vehicle. Thats 128 million worth of payload 8:1

    Getting the stuff back here should not be a problem, its an engineering problem but its not cost prohibitive.

    Then all that is left is the cost of the mining equipment iself. Ill leave that with a big ol ????? I dont know what that would cost or even how to start estimating it. You need to design all the stuff first. We can estimate cost of getting the mass up there in the first place. Lets say we need 200,000 pounds of equipment, thats about 300,000,000 to get up there. Not enough, how about 1,000,000 pounds, thats still only 1.5 billion.

    And obviously there is cost to design all the equipment. space x did the 2 falcons and dragon on what a couple hundred million so far? So we shouldnt need more then a billion for this. Remember we arent desiging for humans we dont care if things crash when they get back to earth, in fact a crash landing shoudl be much cheaper.

    All said and done....we coudl return dozens of tons of material to earth for the same cost of say 1 week of the iraq war.

    Its not that we cant do these things, its not that its too expensive to do these things. Its that we dont have the will, and have really stupid priorities when spending money.


    I would love to see someone try in my lifetime. Id be completely elated if someone tried and succeeded at a profit in my lifetime. When i was a child, there wa sno doubt this would happen. Now 20 years later, i have huge doubts ill see it in my lifetime, and thats just beyond depressing.

    April 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • thermal rider

      And why would you need a container? Large solar mirror (mylar, very light) used to melt the surface of what you are sending back. Even if the extra equipment cost as much to send up as a container, it can be used over and over again.

      And you'd not send back the whole asteroid. That would be wasteful. Just send back what you want to sell. That's the beauty of ballistic trajectories. Over the short run, they are extremely predictable.

      April 24, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  33. DavidLevinsn

    I hope this company remembers the most fundamental rule of setting up an extraterrestrial mining operation. Always make sure that Sean Connery is your head of security.

    April 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  34. jim

    The most ridiculous news I ever read. Fantasizing is good but don't overdo it.

    April 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  35. Ross

    You can take my word for it they will never (50 years) make a trip outside of a low earth orbit.
    They are only collecting money from people who do not understand anything about astrophysics, which is every celebrity/actor, politician, or business that they get to “invest”.

    April 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm |

    April 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • thlix

      ok, so tell us.. whats this "god" person deal with hats? hmm? i've heard of some freaky fetishs, but a funny hat fetish is a bit out there...

      April 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm |

        what are talking about?

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

        Dude, you are asking HIM what he's talking about when you are so TOTALLY OFF TOPIC?

        April 25, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  37. S-coop

    I hope this works. Were running out of materials on our planet.

    April 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  38. reasonablebe

    Everyone needs to watch the movie, "Moon"- very eerie, not far off sci fi about mining on the moon.

    April 24, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  39. mb2010a's the future.

    April 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  40. JL

    Isn't this how all of our Alien movies begin??? Aliens coming to Earth to destroy us because they need our natural resources...maybe that stupid movie with the blue people comes true!

    April 24, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  41. NEnurse

    All I know is that I would loathe the day when I gazed into the night sky and saw the moon looking like a strip mine, or worse yet, covered with ads like the sides of an interstate.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • thlix

      "This full moon is brought to you by Preparation H.. let the full moon shine!

      April 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm |

    April 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • thlix

      the Invisiable man in the sky i pray to could kick the invisible man in the sky you pray to butt

      April 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  43. Merritt J Swift

    Controlling asteroids will be as big a deal as developing nuclear fission,helpful but also menacing.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • thlix

      Worse, a nice size rock can take out a country.. with out leaveing much radation.. yet another reason we have to get there.. if only to help prevent others from launceing a rock the size of a city at us...

      April 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
      • Codifex

        True, when we move into space, we'd better be able to show a unified front. Anyway, anyone stupid enough to try and take out an enemy with an asteroid is a danger to us all.

        Also, I think the previous poster meant FUSION. We've got FISSION pretty much down to a science.

        April 25, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  44. Dig A Hole Dave

    I believe this may cause potentially HUGE problems!!

    April 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • show me the platinum

      I think vacuum is pretty sanitary.

      April 24, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
  45. LatentFarmBoy

    I think my biggest concern is the chance of a mishap while delivering the mined resources to the earth's surface. Getting hit by even a small nickel-iron asteroid could wreck your day.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • thlix

      indeed, see my remark above.. its yet another reason we should be doing everything we can o get out there.. if only to prevent others from useing them aginst us..

      April 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  46. i_know_everything

    the aliens would be maaaaaaaad

    April 24, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  47. Point

    Ahhh this is nothing, I've been mining in women's "spaces" for 30 years.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  48. Montello

    I saw this on TV this morning. As a geologist, the whole thing sounds pretty scammy to me. They were talking about mining platinum on an asteroid as you and I would pick up pebbles off the street. The thing is, platinum, gold, and the like are very rare elements in the universe. Here on Earth, geologic processes have concentrated these rare elements into things like veins and placers which are practical to mine. There have been no such processes on asteroids, so the elements will probably occur as scattered atoms in the rock at very low concentrations – impossible to mine especially with the extraordinary costs of doing business in space. Even if there was an asteroid out there with mineable concentrations, how are they going to find the right one? Its darn difficult to discover new mineral deposits here on Earth – how about on millions of asteroids scattered through trillions of cubic miles of space? I won't be investing in this one.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • j0eschm0e

      mehh let em go if they want. it'll open the door for further space exploration. I hear you though.

      April 24, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Merritt J Swift

      Im not a geologist,my hope is we would find a shattered core full of the heaviest materials from a large body and not the pathetic light material crust we are limited to on Earth.Maybe not but couldn't there be a mile of near solid gold among other metals if we could reach it within the Earths center.

      April 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
      • Prof. chaz floyd

        FYI. if there were gold bricks on the moon just waiting for man to come load up and bring back to earth it wouldn't be worth it, because glod isn't worth enough money not even platinum bricks would be worth going up there to bring back. theres only 1 thing worth it heleium3 an excellent sours of energy with no greenhouse gasses or greenhouse efects.

        April 25, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • thlix

      er.. most leading theories seem to feel that the astroid belt is the remains of a formor planet.. not that it matters, most of these rare ores.. were formed in a Sun a billion or 3 years before our own sun formed out of its death. heavy metals and ores are a by product of "Suns" far to involved to post fully, but its basicly where all our heavy metals come from. even the iron in your blood. in a very real sense.. we are the children of stars.

      April 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
      • Montello

        Granted regarding the probable origin of the asteroids as a former planet. Also granted that all the elements above hydrogen came from defunct stars (anything above iron originated in super novas). However, the vast majority of this dead star stuff is iron, nickel, silicon, carbon, oxygen, etc. Things like platinum, the element being discussed on TV this morning, just occur as odd atoms mixed in with everything else. During Earth's 4+ billion year lifetime, there has been plenty of opportunity for platinum and the like to become concentrated by geologic processes. Scientists pretty much agree that the origin planet for the asteroids broke up early in the life of the solar system, hence little time for the concentration process. And once again, even if concentration had somehow occurred, it could take many lifetimes and unfathomable energy and expense to visit and explore every asteroid, much less extract and concentrate the material.

        Remember that the unmanned encounters with single asteroids have taken years of travel to accomplish. The reason is that it takes enormous amounts of energy to speed a probe up to interplanetary speed,a and it takes just as much energy to slow it back down again to land on an asteroid. Since the probes can't carry enough fuel to do both, they have to use extremely complex (and painfully slow) "slingshotting" maneuvers off the inner planets to reach their goals.

        I love the idea of space exploration and exploitation. But until we find some new revolutionary (and cheap) means of rapid propulsion, mining the asteroids is a pipe dream.

        April 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  49. j0eschm0e

    Bout time. I want to see more space exploration before I die. its my dream. yes it is hard. it was hard to get to the moon the first time. back in the 1900s it was hard to build a railraod coast to coast. it was hard to build highways coast to coast. everything is hard when it first starts out. have faith. it always is to the benefit of mankind. as long as they dont blow up the moon. moon chunk would be equal to a global killer asteroid. I dont see how mining an asteroid would be any good, the thing is not going to stop. gonna mine for a week or 2 then leave? the moon is always there, and to mine, theyre going to have to have a moon base. and a cargo space craft simular to the space shuttle? we shall see.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  50. JS, WFBJ

    Think about this. If it is private companies that are going forward with this endeavor, you can almost guarantee they will find the cheapest, most efficient method to get it done so as to make it feasible. If it were left to politicians... fell forget about it.

    Even if we don't see mining in space in the next century, you can guarantee you'll get more advancement in coming up with ways to make mining in space as well as space colonies by leaving the tasks to private enterprises. What I'm saying is if it is feasible at all, they will find a way to make money from it.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      Except of course for all of the private companies that have lost money and gone bankrupt over the last several centuries. Enron anyone? Global Crossing? Private enterprise is no guarantee of positive cash flow, profitability, or efficiency. Notice how no private company has ever sent anyone to the Moon, even though the government did in the 1960's and early '70's? We've known what the Moon is made of for over 40 years, and no commercial missions in all that time. That actually says quite a lot.

      April 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Merritt J Swift

      If the only thing we learn to do is push an asteroid out of the path of the Earth it would do more to fight Global Warming than anything else man could ever do and probably far far cheaper.It won't make Al Gore rich though.

      April 24, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  51. obama 2012

    obama 2012

    April 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • JS, WFBJ

      Don't you mean... SPACE OBAMA?

      April 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
      • Alex Gessong

        No, because that would be illegal, Jacques. The Secret Service may be paying you a visit to examine the space between your ears.

        April 24, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • j0eschm0e

      NObama2012... look on google, obama admits he is a muslim

      April 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
      • i_know_everything

        you m0r0n, d'bag

        April 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
      • Alex Gessong

        @j0eschmo0e: you believe everything you fin on the internet, right? Earth to j0e: doesn't it seem just a bit odd to you that this "muslim" attends a Christian church every Sunday? Probably because he was raised by his Christian mother and Christian grandparents. Dude, get a life! Or at least a grasp of reality. By the way, this site is really about space exploration, not mindless political rhetoric.

        April 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  52. Leon from Cincinnati Ohio

    I bet James Cameron will make a new movie out of this and become more richer!!!

    April 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • JS, WFBJ

      Jealous much?

      April 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  53. Paul

    I heard Bruce WIllis and his daughter's boyfriend Ben Affleck we're going to be leading the asteroid mission...

    April 24, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • j0eschm0e

      they wont allow cowboys in space

      April 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
      • JS, WFBJ

        Haven't you ever seen the movie Space Cowboys? Case closed.

        April 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  54. WoodyStiff

    Your all Idiot's. What they need to do is find an asteroid that is 100% common sense and mine that to bring back here. I do like the idea but not for the reasons it's being implemented. I like it because it will provide some work for people on this rock. And hopefully it will get some of the super rich to let go of some of their money so it will trickle down to us common lab rats.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  55. Darren

    I'm fairly certain this makes no economical sense

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

      I'm 100% that I agree with you.

      April 24, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  56. jameslabvile

    Will this involve tax payers subsidizing this scheme, or will the Rich foot the whole bill?

    April 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • JS, WFBJ

      "Private companies"

      April 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  57. Badly-Bent

    It would be interesting if they should find something that we haven't (yet) found here on earth.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  58. NeoGraphix

    Good in theory but someone is going to have to get the thousands of pieces of space debris out of the way before this all happens. Hey, there is a business right there. Capturing the space junk and recycling it.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • WoodyStiff

      I like it!!!!!

      April 24, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  59. Badly-Bent

    I don't understand calling these "natural resources"? Why not call them extra-terrestrial resources? Because that is what they are.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  60. JS, WFBJ

    There's gold in dem dere Moon hills!

    April 24, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  61. T Dizzile

    Earth first, we will screw up the other planets later.

    April 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • JS, WFBJ

      If it is private companies, what do you care?

      April 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  62. Everything in Moderation

    First rule of not killing your planet: Don't suck the stuff it's made of out of it, find an asteroid instead.

    Second rule of not killing your planet: Don't be brining home strange whatzits from some asteroid.

    April 24, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • JS, WFBJ

      I bet if you were a caveman you would have been against creating fire.

      April 24, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  63. snowdogg

    considering the earth is flat... is this really a good idea?

    April 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  64. wizard2399

    Wow. The stuff of science fiction may happen in my lifetime. Will precious metals prices drop with this influx or go up because of the costs incurred getting them back to earth? We shall see.

    April 24, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  65. H. B.

    I don't recall reading or hearing anything at all about precious metals on the Moon, from the time of the Apollo landing till the present. They probably exist, but in patches that are worth mining? If the extraction is more costly than what is extracted, it is never worth mining. Most precious metals deposits on Earth that are "minable," got consolidated through volcanic action. There are no volcanoes on asteroids or the Moon. If trace elements are precious metals, it's not worth the time, effort and expense.

    Still, I wholeheartedly support their plan, simply because no government on earth would REALLY want to start space colonies, on the Moon or anywhere else. Why? They know, better than anyone else, that those colonies would inevitably want to rule themselves. The governments that put them there couldn't retain control, so they'd rather not have them in the first place.

    I was young when we landed on the Moon, and I dreamed that I'd have a shot of going into space one day. I'm now 67, and they're not even TALKING about public access to space stations or colonies in space. We could have had a colony on the Moon for decades, but we don't – because governments won't have it.

    To say I feel let down is an understatement.

    So maybe these guys are using the concept of "mining" as an excuse to get people into space WITHOUT the government. I can also bet they'll have a lot of governmental interference for their plans, but they'll be less if the "objective" is a commercial one, rather than a plan for colonies. They can then turn them into colonies.

    But the governments probably realize THAT, too...

    "Ve get zo zoon alt, und zo late schmart."

    April 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • JS, WFBJ

      Think of what people would pay for Moon Gold!

      April 24, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Merritt J Swift

      Yes the moon is a harsh mistress.

      April 24, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  66. sharoom

    It seems the most cost prohibitive part of space exploration right now is launching stuff beyond Earth's gravity. I think the first step needs to be the construction of a space factory. It will first rely on materials on Earth, but then rely on materials mined from space.

    April 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Prof. chaz floyd

      I totaly agree with your statement, also It's my opinion that we dont need to go to mars for the same reason, it cost to much fule to get off the planet we should stick with asteroids & moons.

      April 25, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  67. pozin

    Say what you will about capitalism but if there is a buck to be made then some privateer will find a way. If the science is proven then investors will get on board and this will happen. Hope it does.

    April 24, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  68. manreally???

    Dr. Evil seemed to do pretty well with his moon base, maybe they should look to him for so more ideas?

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

      Yes! He can certainly claim credit for sharks with laser beams attached to their heads! The man is a visionary!

      April 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Craig Doug

      Dr. Evil for President!!!

      April 25, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  69. Adam

    All you nay-sayers are astounding me.

    You're all the same type of person who called Columbus an idiot because he was going to sail off the edge of the flat earth.

    April 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • pozin

      The world is not flat????

      April 24, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
      • JS, WFBJ

        Adam is clearly lieing. Prove the earth isn't flat!

        April 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
      • Pete/Ark

        the eatrh is a concave dish...rather like a contact lens....the illusion of orbiting is created by a figure-8 flight path... at least that was the claim of the Flat Earth Society in 1958....math and graphic arts can make it seem possible.....try to visualize it.....

        April 24, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
      • VegasRage

        @Pete/Ark, great so were like a sample sitting under some scientists lab microscope. Awesome!

        April 24, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      Actually it's not remotely similar to that. There's the cost of going into space versus the value of what can be brought back to sell on Earth. Not cheap to get to the Moon or to asteroids, and just how much ore can be brought to Earth from these very expensive mining missions. The skeptics want more information about the business plan, that's all. There's also the question of whether anyone can lay claim to the mineral rights of the Moon or other object outside of Earth, and expensive legal challenges that might pop up as a result if "claim jumping." The concept is interesting, but need to examine the numbers on the balance sheet to determine how practical it really is.

      April 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
      • WD

        And why exactly do they need to justiy their balance sheet to you? Are you an expert in the matter?

        April 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
      • thlix

        As another wise poster said, The initial start up csts for space mineing is and would be huge. but, after the 1st mine, the 2nd becomes vastly cheaper.. the 3rd even more so. untill finaly you're basicly mineing everything you need, and building most everything you need in space already..

        then, the real profit starts... and after a few years of operation, it would in the end become far cheaper to buy space mined ores then to scratch away at the earth tryng for find some. in 2034 3554 amun, an astroid has been estimated at haveing roughly 20 TRILLION DOLLARS worth of ores and metals

        just one rock...

        out of the thousands? hundrets of thousands million or 20 floating around in space... and you folks want to keep scratching away at the ground like a bunch of hairless tree apes.. have you learned NOTHING?

        April 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
      • Adam

        I see what you're saying, but you're kind of missing the point.

        Will it cost a lot of money? Hell yes it will. But there are several billionaire investors backing up some of our nations smartest to do this. My point here is that they have an incredibly bold vision and are putting their money where their mouth is instead of hoarding it in a corner. The nay-sayers and armchair astrophysicists here are saying this is a stupid waste of money because they're accustomed to our usual congressional circlejerk.

        Is it a waste? It most certainly can be. These are the same people who helped shape our technology today, looking to shape our technology tomorrow; they're hedging their own private money on the advancement of humankind. If no profit comes from this venture, the amount we'll learn by even attempting it will dwarf nearly everything since the launch of Hubble.

        April 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
      • Sir Rugglesby

        The fact is, there will never be Asteroid or Moon mining before we can find a low cost means of putting robots into space. Just getting to LEO is beyond ridiculous right now, i mean really? Blasting yourself and your payloads off the planet with the equivalent of a small Nuke, how primitive. Need to stop brute forcing everything and start looking for some elegance in how we do things. Reminds me of really old science fiction from the steam age. We can do better.

        April 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
      • Jetro

        Well, they've gotten the attention of Google, and a host of other billionaires. So they pretty much overcome the skeptics that actually matter.

        Of course their are plenty of armchair aerospace engineers that have never been to a space museum much less designed anything that will say it doesn't work based on their expert knowledge gather by watching Modern Marvels on the history channel. That's a given with any new venture.

        April 25, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • Pete/Ark

      and the dragons would eat him.......................................

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

      Please don't get your information about history from cartoons.

      People have known the world is round for 2,500 years. No one thought Columbus was going to sail off the edge of the earth except absolute morons.

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


        Throughout history, the highly educated knew or theorized that the earth is round. This wasn't common knowledge until well after Columbus.

        Which is exactly my point, if you're able to catch the subtlety.

        April 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
      • pete

        But he did think he had sailed clear to Asia heading west from Europe.

        April 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Danny

      Columbus didn't intent to monopolize when he "discovered" America. I can already see it what will happen.

      April 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • show me the platinum

      Columbus was not a visionary.

      He was lost.

      April 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • sowhat

      You're right, Columbus wasn't an idiot, he was a mass murderer responsible for the genocide of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people. He also didn't discover America, the millions of people who already lived here knew where to find it without his assistance.

      April 25, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • George Bundy

      iI never called Columbus and idiot.

      April 25, 2012 at 11:46 am |
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