"Everything we hold of value on Earth -- metals, minerals, energy, water, real estate -- are literally in near-infinite quantities in space," said Diamandis.
Eventually, Anderson said he could picture fleets of robotic "droids" closing in on asteroids, scouring their surfaces for minerals and either bringing them back to Earth or to supply depots in space. The company says there are more than 1,500 asteroids that pass close to Earth, and, since they don't have much gravitational pull, it would take less fuel to land on them than on the moon.
Anderson said the idea is to start small, with a telescope in Earth orbit to look for asteroids that pass close to us and have the right mix of minerals. He claimed the launch could happen soon -- in as little as 18 months to two years.
To keep the cost down, it might share a booster rocket with another satellite. Who might make the booster? The Russians, or a private American company, he said -- anyone who can do it for an affordable price.
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