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Private firm plans to mine asteroids for rare metals

France,Science/Tech, Wed, 25 Apr 2012 IANS

Moscow, April 25 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Planetary Resources Inc. will mine near-earth asteroids (NEAs) for raw materials, ranging from water to precious metals, the company said in a statement.


First private deep-space prospecting spacecraft, Arkyd, are due to be launched in two years to identify the first asteroids for mining within the decade, the company's top management told a news conference, broadcast live on the web.


The group did not elaborate on the cost of the spacecraft, saying only that the launches will cost "tens of millions" instead of "hundreds of millions".


"Many of the scarce metals and minerals on the 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," said Peter Diamandis, the company's co-founder and co-chairman.


According to the company's data, a single 500-metre platinum-rich asteroid contains the equivalent of all the platinum group metals mined in history.


Eric Anderson, also co-founder and co-chairman, said the company would focus on mining platinum-group metals and water.


"Water is perhaps the most valuable resource in space. Accessing a water-rich asteroid will greatly enable the large-scale exploration of the solar system. In addition to supporting life, water will also be separated into oxygen and hydrogen for breathable air and rocket propellant," he said.


The company is supported by filmmaker James Cameron and former Microsoft CTO David Vaskevitch as advisers and Google's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt as investors.


--IANS/RIA Novosti




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