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New space company aims to mine asteroids for precious metals

April 23, 2012|By W.J. Hennigan
  • Peter H. Diamandis, co-founder and co-chairman of Planetary Resources Inc., at Mojave Air & Space Port.
Peter H. Diamandis, co-founder and co-chairman of Planetary Resources… (Brendan McDermid / European…)

A new private space company is expected to be unveiled Tuesday at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Planetary Resources Inc. is a Seattle company that intends to mine near-Earth asteroids for raw materials ranging from water to precious metals.

“There are precious metals in near-infinite quantities in space. When the availability of these metals increase, the cost will reduce on everything including defibrillators, hand-held devices, TV and computer monitors, catalysts; and with the abundance of these metals we’ll be able to use them in mass production,” Peter H. Diamandis, co-founder and co-chairman, said in a statement.

The company said there are more than 1,500 known near-Earth asteroids that are easier to reach than the surface of the Moon. Using telescopic remote sensing, Planetary Resources will prospect for those asteroids containing resources important to humanity both in space and on the Earth and analyze their composition to determine a commercial value, the company said.

The company's backers include Google Inc. Chief Executive Larry Page and Chairman Eric Schmidt, “Avatar” director James Cameron; and Microsoft Corp.’s former chief software architect, Charles Simonyi.


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Follow W.J. Hennigan on Twitter @wjhenn

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