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Planetary Resources announced that it plans to mine asteroids for precious metals and rare minerals.

Asteroid mining company aims to aid private industry space exploration

Bellevue, Washington based Planetary Resources announced on Tuesday, April 24 that it plans to mine asteroids for precious metals and rare minerals.

The extraction of precious metals and rare minerals from asteroids that orbit near Earth is a long-term goal for the company. According to Reuters, Planetary Resources will initially “focus on developing and selling extremely low-cost robotic spacecraft for surveying missions.” In doing so, the company aims to “open deep-space exploration to private industry.”

The company is also looking into the possibility of opening gas stations in space. According to Discovery News, Planetary Resources plans to extract water from asteroids, and this water “could be processed into fuel by breaking apart the oxygen and hydrogen molecules. It then could be sold commercially from fuel depots in orbit to NASA and other entities conducting robotic and human space missions.” Eric Anderson, the company’s co-founder, told Discovery News, “If we could essentially set up a gas station in space that decreases the cost of exploration and development of the solar system by an order of magnitude right off the bat.”

These space gas stations would certainly be in line with the company’s goal of making deep-space exploration attainable for private corporations.

Artist's rendition of asteroid mining. (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Planetary Resources reportedly formed three years ago, according to Universe Today, and financial backers include Google executives Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, and K. Ram Shriram, filmmaker James Cameron, X Prize CEO Peter Diamandis, Space Adventures founder Eric Anderson, former Microsoft chief software architect Charles Simonyi, and Ross Perot Jr.

Although extracting precious metals and minerals from asteroids is a long-term goal for the company, it is a goal in which company backers are very interested, and one that could reap huge financial benefits. Peter Diamandis explains, “An asteroid about one-third as long as a football field could have as much as $25 billion to $50 billion worth of platinum at today’s prices.”

The company must first develop the technology necessary to execute any of their plans. Company co-founders Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson hope to have a demonstration mission in orbit around Earth within two years.

About Jason McClellan

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Jason McClellan is an editor and staff writer for Open Minds magazine. Jason is also the producer and co-host of the web series Spacing Out!, web content manager and staff writer for OpenMinds.tv, and co-organizer and technical producer of the International UFO Congress. ------ Follow Jason on Twitter @acecentric and subscribe to Jason's updates on Facebook at Facebook.com/jason.openminds