Massimiliano Caruso

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Billionaires To Announce New Space Startup Next Week

Title: Billionaires To Announce New Space Startup Next Week

Date: Apr 19, 2012

Author: Alex Knapp

Linkhttp://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2012/04/19/billionaires-to-announce-new-space-startup-next-week/

X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis and space entrepreneur Eric Anderson have announced that they’ve started a new company, dubbed Planetary Resources. Joining forces with four prominent billionaires, the company aims to be “a new space venture with a mission to help ensure humanity’s prosperity,” according to the press release.

The full details behind the company’s mission and purpose are to be announced in a press conference next Tuesday, April 24th. The only hint we have of the company’s purpose is buried in this paragraph in the press release:

Supported by an impressive investor and advisor group, including Google’s Larry Page & Eric Schmidt, Ph.D.; film maker & explorer James Cameron; Chairman of Intentional Software Corporation and Microsoft’s former Chief Software Architect Charles Simonyi, Ph.D.; Founder of Sherpalo and Google Board of Directors founding member K. Ram Shriram; and Chairman of Hillwood and The Perot Group Ross Perot, Jr., the company will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of ‘natural resources’.

It seems silly to bother speculating on what the company is going to be focused on, given that we’re gong to find out in less than a week. Still, that hasn’t stopped people from trying. Both MIT Tech Review and Bad Astronomer Phil Plait are guessing that this company is going to be geared towards asteroid mining, which would certainly be in keeping with some statements of Diamandis.

For my part, I’m doubtful that asteroid mining is going to be the focus of the company. At least, not in the short term. At the present state of technology, my gut feel is that an all out attempt to begin profitable mining operations is a 15-25 year project as a best case scenario, and it would probably take at least another 15-20 years for such operations to start turning a profit. I think that factor means that asteroid mining will not be the primary focus of the company. At least, not at first.

I think it more likely that the short term focus is going to be less ambitious, possibly orbital solar collectors, if they think they have a solution for wireless power transmission, or perhaps even a shot at some Lunar mining if they’re feeling really ambitous.

At any rate, we’ll know for sure what the company intends to do on Tuesday.

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