Earlier today we learned that private company Planetary Resources planned to mine precious resources from nearby asteroids, and now the company has revealed via press release how it intends to do so. Planetary Resources, which consists of individuals such as Eric Schmidt, along with advisor James Cameron, would target Near-Earth Asteroids in an attempt to mine resources such as water and metals.
The company details about how a single 500-meter asteroid filled with platinum contains the equivalent of all the platinum group metals that have been mined on Earth in history. Space is said to contain “near infinite” quantities of such metals that are relatively scarce here on Earth, and mining them would reduce the cost of electronics, as well as open up new applications for the resources.
"Many of the scarce metals and minerals on Earth are in near-infinite quantities in space. As access to these materials increases, not only will the cost of everything from microelectronics to energy storage be reduced, but new applications for these abundant elements will result in important and novel applications" Peter H. Diamandis, MD, Planetary Resources, Inc
Asteroids that are rich with water would also be a “stepping stone” for deep space exploration. Having access to such resources in space will “revolutionize exploration and make space travel dramatically more economical.” Water could be separated into oxygen and hydrogen, allowing breathable air plus rocket propellant.
Planetary Resources say that out of the 9,000 NEAs, around 1,500 are as easily accessible as the Moon. The company plans to reach such asteroids using the custom built Arkyd-100 Series spaceship, which will identify high target NEAs and lead to a fleet of Arkyd-300 Series ships later on.
"The pursuit of resources drove the discovery of America and opened the West" Google chairman Eric Schmidt, an investor in Planetary Resources, said of the scheme. "The same drivers still hold true for opening the space frontier. Expanding the resource base for humanity is important for our future."