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Private Group Eyes Resources in Space

This image obtained by the framing camera on NASA’s Dawn spacecraft shows giant asteroid Vesta. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/

A new private firm has been established, one that has set their trajectory on mining the treasure trove of available space resources.

Next week, the key spark plugs behind Planetary Resources, Inc. are set to discuss the start-up venture: X Prize founder, Peter H. Diamandis; leading commercial space entrepreneur Eric Anderson; former NASA Mars mission manager Chris Lewicki; and planetary scientist and veteran NASA astronaut, Tom Jones – an expert in asteroid exploration.

The company “will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars” to the global Gross Domestic Product – or GDP, according to a press statement. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of “natural” resources.

Planetary Resources, Inc. is supported by an impressive investor and advisor group, including Google’s Larry Page; film maker and explorer James Cameron; Charles Simonyi, a private space traveler to the ISS, as well as Chairman of Intentional Software Corporation and Microsoft’s former Chief Software Architect.

History 101: NEAP

In the memory banks of history, the idea of private missions to plumb space resources is not new.

For example, back in the 1990s, the late space entrepreneur and visionary, Jim Benson, founder of SpaceDev, designed the Near Earth Asteroid Prospector, or NEAP.

Benson’s company planned to rocket a private sector probe to an asteroid, at one time identifying asteroid 4660 Nereus as the target object.

NEAP would have inspected the asteroid for its gold, copper, and other valuable minerals – prompting debate regarding “claiming” resources in space, a prospect that stirred up significant discussion within space law circles.

To describe the plans of Planetary Resources, Inc., a kick-off press event is slated for April 24, to be held at the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery at The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.

By Leonard David

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