Is There a Space Gold Rush in Mankind's Future?

Is There a Space Gold Rush in Mankind's Future?

Powerful and forward-thinking players are coming together with the launch of the Planetary Resources company to begin work on what could potentially create a sort of “Gold Rush” in space, as man’s quest for knowledge and wealth continues to grow, eventually perhaps one day moving beyond being Earth-based. Informed observers view it as having the potential to conduct asteroid mining of whatever natural resources may be available within Earth’s closest planetary neighbors.

That sounds like asteroid mining. Because what else is there in space that we need here on earth? Certainly not a livable climate or a replacement for our dwindling supplies of oil.

The company is set to make its public debut on April 24th at the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery at The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. Below is an except of an early press release. A closer look at developments begins to paint a portrait of space as a frontier previously reserved for fans of science fiction.

Supported by an impressive investor and adviser 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’.

Imagine the future with a company like Planetary Resources being supported by technological developments such as those being worked on by The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, NJ. Former Microsoft engineer Charles Simonyi is both part of the initiative above, while also recently giving millions of dollars as part of a larger effort to fund IAS research. 

“A core group of astrophysicists and astronauts in collaboration with other scientists and engineers is studying the use of plasma engines with the goal of significantly altering the orbit of an asteroid in a controlled manner by 2015,” the institute writes. Based in Princeton, New Jersey, scholars at the institute study mathematics, the environment, physics and more.

Imagine a universe in which asteroids may have their orbits altered, not only to avoid any collision with Earth, but to also bring potentially valuable resources closer in for research and recovery. The composition of asteroids varies and remains largely unknown. They can be anything from “piles of ‘rubble’ to complex mixtures of metals, and carbon and silicon compounds.”

Some are also said to contain Amino Acids and other organic compounds, with speculation existing that they may have actually seeded life on Earth. While most living human beings may not get to actually see a Star Wars-like world in their lifetimes, it is possible to begin envisioning such a time in mankind’s future, driven by forward-thinkers, non-profit research, and business, which has a long track record of creating wealth and success for the masses, while also pursuing its own particular interests.

Free Market Capitalism works, and if Planetary Resources has its way, that may prove true in space, just as it consistently has proved true here on Earth.