More Profitable Than Science Fiction

9 Jan

_59831437_s78_27139-1I agree with the Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait, that reality is so much more amazing than science fiction. Until now I just assumed asteroid mining was a crackpot monopoly for futurists. Last year news of James Cameron’s and Google’s involvement in a venture, Planetary Resources, and that the start-up was actually hiring interns led me to chuckle. But stories keep making the headlines, and Phil Plait explains how a company like Planetary Resources will advance from near-earth orbit (NEO) to retrieving minerals and transporting them from asteroid to Earth.

Here’s a plug for Planetary Resources:

The Planetary Resources venture is unique and historic in two powerful ways: This is the first real merger of capitalists and environmentalists working for the good of all. And Planetary Resources is free-market capitalism at its best, “solving a big problem” government cannot solve, saving the planet.

Yes, Planetary Resources is a for-profit business venture. But one visit to their site and you sense it is much more. Their mission statement has a metaphysical quality: “Planetary Resources is bringing the natural resources of space within humanity’s economic sphere of influence, propelling our future into the 21st century and beyond.” Our “mission is clear: apply commercial, innovative techniques to explore space. We will develop low-cost robotic spacecraft to explore the thousands of resource-rich asteroids within our reach. We will learn everything we can about them, then develop the most efficient capabilities to deliver these resources directly to both space-based and terrestrial customers. Asteroid mining may sound like fiction, but it’s just science.”

There’s also the B612 Foundation and NEOCam, both of which Plait mentions in the podcast with Chris Mooney.

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