"A new venture backed by director James Cameron and Google's Larry Page
and Eric Schmidt seeks to accomplish something straight out of science
fictionï¿½the mining of asteroids for raw materials like iron and nickel.
Planetary Resources Inc.'s plans will be formally announced at an
event in Seattle on Tuesday, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Backers of the new company say its goal is to "overlay two critical
sectorsï¿½space exploration and natural resourcesï¿½to add trillions of
dollars to the global GDP" and to "help ensure humanity's prosperity." "
I'd love to think that some small part of that was our discussions on
Virgle and OpenVirgle (like on Mars vs. the Asteroids), although that
might be giving an April Fool's joke too much credit? :-)
Of course, bringing raw asteroidal resources back to Earth will probably
have little local economic value in the long term, even if it could be
very profitable in the short term. In the long term, the prices for
precious metals would plummet from market saturation, even if the first
few thousand tons of gold and platinum (returned in the shape of lifting
bodies?) would be very profitable and more than pay for getting them. We
can recycle everything we really need on Earth, or substitute it with
enough energy, like from solar panels or maybe hot or cold fusion (maybe
But using the resources in space to build self-replicating space
habitats from sunlight and asteroid ore would be a great idea IMHO.
Eventually we could build many billions of Earth's worth of living space
for quadrillions of people and biospheres to go along with that.
And I'm not just saying that because I tried (and failed) to get a PhD
in that in the 1980s. :-)
"The good news is that now, twenty years later, all or most of the
hurdles have fallen that otherwise needed leaping before being able to
comprehensively design self-replicating space habitats, and all the
computer and informational resources I thought I needed then are now
available for cheap or free. For example, for only a few thousand
dollars, I have the equivalent of an early 1990s supercomputer in my
office with terabytes of storage and a high speed color scanner and a
network connection and access to Google and Wikipedia and so on. So,
what I outlined in the 20th century is more and more doable in the 21st
century for less and less cost. So, item 13 (the major goal) is now
approachable without needing to do much on the other prerequisite items
"A Review of Licensing and Collaborative Development with Special
Attention to Design of Self-Replicating Space Habitat Systems"
So, good luck with the asteroid mining. That's the kind of worthwhile
project that makes going into space much more interesting than just for
a once-in-a-lifetime sightseeing flight, as I mentioned here:
"Both CATS and DOGS are needed..."
"So where is a key area of research that should be a priority among
NASA and Billionaires, but is not heavily pursued? The issue is what
to do in space once you have gotten there. Because if there is a
reason to be in space, then people and collectives will work to get
there. And the reality is, that right now, if we could get there,
there is nothing to do there short of look around and come back. And
if that were the case, Space would not deserve much more investment
than say tourism to Mt. Everest."
The biggest challenge of the 21st century is the irony of technologies
of abundance in the hands of those thinking in terms of scarcity.