The Oregon Natural Resources Report - Agricultural News from Oregon

NW firm eyes mining asteroids

May 7, 2012

By Oregon Small Business Association

Seattle’s entrepreneurs have a bright new idea: mine asteroids for the valuable rare earth minerals they contain. The project has some heavyweights on board. Founders Eric Anderson and Peter Diamandis came up with the idea of selling space flights for private individuals, and their new venture has Google CEO Larry Page and James Cameron of Avatar and Titanic on board with them.

NASA, meanwhile, is spending over a billion dollars to bring back two ounces of an asteroid to earth. With that kind of money being spent on space mining, some scientists question whether Anderson and Diamandis’ project can possibly be cost-effective, even with platinum and gold at $1600/oz. Such questions don’t worry the two, reports the AP. “Before we started launching people into space as private citizens, people thought that was a pie-in-the-sky idea,” Anderson said. “We’re in this for decades. But it’s not a charity. And we’ll make money from the beginning.”

However, the newest player in the Pacific Northwest’s space industry seems likely to be mainly spending money at first. Now that investors have signed up, the company’s next step is to send out prospecting telescopes, small tubes two or three feet in length. Each one will be self-powered and simply cruise around scanning asteroids to determine whether they contain the valuable materials Diamandis and Anderson are looking for. Each telescope should cost less than ten million dollars.

According to current plans, larger-scale operations will begin within a couple of years, after the telescopes have identified a sufficient number of target asteroids. Those operations will be powered by liquid hydrogen and oxygen obtained by breaking down water that the company hopes to find on asteroids. Perhaps the system could be working by 2020.

One other thing: all the mining will be done by robots. Humans will not be involved except as mission control.

About ten percent of the asteroids are thought to contain valuable materials. But if those little telescopes work, we’ll soon know more.

 

  
Print This Post Print This Post    Email This Post Email This Post

Discuss this article

no comments yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


eight × 8 =

Natural Resource Headlines



Top Business News

 

Top Women's News

 

Top Natural Resource News

 

Top Faith News

 

Copyright © 2014, OregonReport. All Rights Reserved. | Terms of Use - Copyright - Legal Policy | Contact Oregon Report

Stay Tuned...

Stay up to date with the latest political news and commentary from Natural Resource Report through weekly email updates:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Prefer another subscription option? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, become a fan on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

RSS Twitter Facebook

No Thanks (close this box)