A computer-generated depiction of how satellites would prospect a water-rich, near-Earth asteroid. The plan entails using commercially built robotic ships to squeeze rocket fuel and minerals such as platinum and gold out of the space rocks.

James Cameron Partners in Asteroid-Mining Venture

ICTMN Staff
4/24/12

Not content with going to the depths of the ocean, Titanic and Avatar director James Cameron, whose famous declaration “I’m king of the world!” marked his ascension to the Oscar throne, now has his sights set on space.

He has partnered with Google co-founder Larry Page and other Silicon Valley billionaires to back an asteroid mining venture, Planetary Resources Inc.

The company, whose existence was announced on April 24, will robotically mine asteroids for precious metals, water and other coveted materials, the group said in a press release.

Within 18 to 24 months, Planetary Resources plans to begin launching private telescopes to search for the most minable asteroids. Then they hope to open an interspatial fueling station by 2020, and be mining by 2025.

The platinum-group metals include ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium and platinum and are not plentiful or terribly accessible on Earth, said Planetary Resources co-founder and co-chairman Eric Anderson at a press conference in Seattle announcing the venture. Such metals are used in batteries, electronics and medical devices, Diamandis told reporters.

"We're going to go to the source," he told Space.com. "The platinum-group metals are many orders of magnitude easier to access in the high-concentration platinum asteroids than they are in the Earth's crust."

Although the venture sounds prohibitively expensive to many analysts and scientists, Planetary Resources’ leaders said that not only are such projects definitely bankable, but they also could reduce prices back on Earth.

“Many of the scarce metals and minerals on Earth are in near-infinite quantities in space,” said Peter H. Diamandis, Planetary Resources’ co-founder and co-chairman, in a media release. “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.”

Water could be mined as well, Planetary Resources officials said, enabling such asteroids to be used as stepping stones to deeper space exploration.

This may be a little more accessible than Newt Gingrich’s plan to colonize the moon, but is it any more legal? At least one expert says it may not be, as far as interplanetary law goes. This is according to several experts interviewed by Life's Little Mysteries website.

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