Now that Google's top brass, a rich Hollywood director, an astronaut and space entrepreneur are on board, it must mean that asteroid mining is just around the corner! Untold riches are about to flood the streets. Hell, we'll soon be able to pave those streets in platinum!
Although Tuesday's exciting announcement that the asteroid mining start-up Planetary Resources has attracted some very high-profile investors and advisers, it's probably a good idea to take a step back and understand why we don't already have refineries attached to near-Earth asteroids.
At face value, asteroid mining seems to make a whole world of sense. Ahead of today's much-hyped announcement, Peter Diamandis, a long-time space entrepreneur, space tourist and founder of the X PRIZE, pointed out that a fairly small asteroid - 30 meters wide, say - could contain platinum worth $25 billion to $50 billion.
"Many of the scarce metals and minerals on Earth are in near-infinite quantities in space. 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," he said in the Planetary Resources press release.