Tag Archives: Planetary Resources

Luxembourg invests $28 million into asteroid mining company

The competition heats up: In its continuing effort to make money from space, the government of Luxembourg has invested $28 million in the asteroid mining company Planetary Resources.

As part of the deal, Planetary Resources is establishing a European headquarters in Luxembourg that will conduct research and development activities. Georges Schmit, a member of the Space Resources advisory board to the Government of Luxembourg, wil join Planetary’s board. “We plan to launch the first commercial asteroid prospecting mission by 2020 and look forward to collaborating with our European partner in this pivotal new industry,” said Chris Lewicki, Planetary Resources chief executive.

As with Luxembourg’s other deals, the investment has required the company to shift many of its operations from the U.S. to Luxembourg.

Luxembourg purchases 49% stake in Planetary Resources

The competition heats up: Following through in its commitment to invest funds in futures space industries, the government of Luxembourg has signed an agreement with Planetary Resources in which it takes 49% equity share of the company.

It is clear that Luxembourg’s goal is to make itself the center of the world for all future space-based industries, and this quote illustrates this:

The Luxembourg government investment adds a powerful incentive to relocate some of this development to Luxembourg before Ceres satellite production is too solidly anchored on the U.S. West Coast. In May, health-care and agricultural research giant Bayer of Monheim, Germany, and Planetary Resources announced they had signed a memorandum of understanding under which Bayer “intends to purchase data from Planetary Resources to create new agricultural products and improve existing ones. The collaboration will be part of the Digital Farming Initiative at Bayer.” Schneider has said the spaceresources.lu program would distinguish itself from U.S.-based efforts by being more international. Companies setting up shop in Luxembourg need not prove Luxembourg-based majority ownership to receive the full suite of regulatory advantages.

Planetary Resources has raised $21 million

The competition heats up: Planetary Resources, the company that claims its goal is to mine asteroids, has raised $21 million to build and launch an Earth resources satellite.

They plan to create a 10-satellite constellation to provide this data commercially.

While everything this company is doing will eventually make asteroid mining easier and more effective, nothing they are doing now has anything to do with mining asteroids. Their first project was to build a prototype orbiting telescope to look for asteroids. This second project will sell data about the Earth.

The Kickstarter campaign by the private company Planetary Resources has made its $1.5 million goal.

The competition heats up: The Kickstarter campaign by the private company Planetary Resources has made its $1.5 million goal.

That campaign reached its $1 million goal on June 19, opening the way for one of Planetary Resources’ Arkyd-100 space telescopes to be used for educational and personal imaging projects. The biggest crowd-pleaser was a $25 offer that will let backers take “space selfies” — orbital pictures showing a display on the telescope with an image submitted by a backer in the foreground, and Earth in the background.

The Asteroid Zoo plan was [the $1.5 million] stretch goal for the campaign. Planetary Resources will partner with Zooniverse to create a game-like online program to identify asteroids, modeled on other Zooniverse citizen-science efforts such as Galaxy Zoo, Moon Zoo and Planet Hunters. Users would be recruited to join in, and then trained to spot the telltale signs of an asteroid’s movement — for example, by “blinking” multiple images of the same patch of sky, or using more sophisticated techniques. The search would draw upon more than 3 million images from the Catalina Sky Survey.

Planetary Resources today announced a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign for its space telescope Arkyd.

Planetary Resources today announced a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign for its space telescope Arkyd.

Forgive me if I am less than enthusiastic about this. Supposedly Planetary Resources had big money backing from a lot of wealthy people, including some Silicon Valley Google billionaires. Why then do they need this campaign? It makes me suspect that the company is an emperor with no clothes.

Planetary Resources has released a video showing off the prototype of their Arkyd-100 space telescope.

The competition heats up: Planetary Resources has released a video showing off the prototype of their Arkyd-100 space telescope.

As I noted when this company first appeared, for the foreseeable future they are going to be a manufacturer of space telescopes, not an asteroid mining company. At the same time, they, like Deep Space Industries, are going to drive satellite development towards lower cost and smarter design, which in the long run will make asteroid mining practical and profitable.

To mine the asteroids, first build small cheap space telescopes.

To mine the asteroids, first build small cheap space telescopes.

The space telescope will be based on the same design Planetary Resources will eventually use for its asteroid-prospecting spacecraft: a 30-kilogram to 50-kilogram flier packed with imaging sensors and a laser-optical communication system the company is developing to avoid encumbering its spacecraft with large antennas. The company, which says it has about two dozen employees, will market these spacecraft as cheap but effective telescopes for both astronomical and Earth-observing applications. Sales would provide cash for the company’s core work on asteroid mining, Eric Anderson, co-founder and co-chairman of Planetary Resources, said.

The telescope slated for launch sometime in the next two years “would be something, let’s say, a university buys [for astronomical observations], or a commercial company that wants to monitor shipping traffic or something like that,” Anderson said in a phone interview. The cost for the telescope, which Planetary Resources is calling Arkyd-101, would be “millions of dollars, including launch.”

At the Planetary Resources press conference today, there was a lot of talk about the benefits and profits to be gained from mining the asteroids. However, this ain’t gonna happen for quite a few years. In the meantime, the company plans to make money building space telescopes which scientists and others can use, for a fee, to do research.

In other words, the government and astronomers dropped the ball on replacing the Hubble Space Telescope. Now, private enterprise is going to pick it up and run with it.

No announcement yet, but of the many stories available this Wired article and this Yahoo article appear to provide the best overview of the asteroid mining plans of Planetary Resources.

No announcement yet, but of the many stories available this Wired article appears to provide the best overview of the asteroid mining plans of Planetary Resources.

The company’s first phase is most interesting:

Within the next 18 to 24 months, Planetary Resources hopes to launch between two and five space-based telescopes at an estimated cost of a few million dollars each that will identify potentially valuable asteroids. Other than their size and orbit, little detailed information is available about the current catalog of near-Earth asteroids. Planetary Resources’ Arkyd-101 Space Telescopes will figure out whether any are worth the trouble of resource extraction.

The actual press conference is scheduled for 10:30 am (Pacific). Stay tuned.

Update: The Planetary Resources website has now been updated. You can read more about their space telescope proposal here.