Google and James Cameron: Asteroid Miners?


Looks like Bruce Willis’s mining team from Armageddon could be employed again.

In a relatively strange press release, according to the Wall Street Journal, a new, fittingly named company called Planetary Resources, Inc. has teamed up with none other than the high officials at Google, Avatar director James Cameron and others in the NASA community for a project that could “add trillions of dollars to the global GDP:” asteroid mining. Who needs a stimulus plan when you can jump-start the world’s economy in outer space?
In a plan to be unveiled this Thursday in Seattle, the company will mention that the iron and nickel found in mass quantity on these space rocks can be harvested to our benefit in some way or another. The effort to “help ensure human’s prosperity” will “overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources.” Drill, baby, drill.
Whether it’s a PR stunt or an initial investment, it’s still unsure why James Cameron signed onto the project but the plot of Avatar, which focuses on a corporation bent on a resource spree, could be a sign of what’s to come.
And Google’s top chiefs, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt? The search engine empire has always had a knack for the final frontier, especially after launching its Google Lunar X Prize. The project offers a grand total of $30 million to any individual or group who can send a robot to the Moon by 2015. So something tells us that the company will have a large stake in the future of space exploration.
Other donors include former Microsoft Corp. executive Charles Simonyi and Ross Perot, Jr., the curious son of two-time 90s businessman-turned-Presidential-candidate Ross Perot.
But, as sci-fi as this sounds, apparently NASA has been looking into the cost-benefit analysis and reality of a project like this for a while. Hence why the head of Planetary Resources, Inc. happens to be NASA ex-employee Chris Lewicki, the former manager of the Mars mission.
In what has been called the ‘Near-Earth Object Program,’ the space agency estimates that the net wealth accumulated from the belt of asteroids (NEOs, for short) between Jupiter and Mars could “be equivalent to about 100 billion dollars for every person on Earth.” Wait, explain to us why we have not done this sooner?

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