April 24, 2012

Planetary Resources Liveblogging the Conference Part 1

The Planetary Resources website is now live too


Diamandis talk

- Scarcity is contextual
- If pluck all of the low hanging fruit then if there is no low hanging fruit then fruit could be scarce
but if I have a ladder and can reach the higher fruit then again fruit is abundant

Exponential technologies will create abundance


smart money investing in one of the largest opportunities ever.

Yes it is difficult but the returns are extraordinary

We will create access to near earth resources

Shell and deep sea oil drilling is investing $5 to 50 billion for each major deep sea platform and build robotic cities on the sea floor. In that context, near earth space mining is achievable.

Eric Anderson and Diamandis have been partners for 16 years on Space Adventures. Eric has personally sold $500 million in space tourism trips.

Eric believes that many will follow and that it will expand commercial space by 2 orders of magnitude.




Eric will talk about the value of asteroids.

Water is the most valuable resource in space for fuel.

All platinum on earth came from asteroids.

Planetary Resources website describes target asteroids



Planetary Resources will likely visit a wide range of asteroids with a variety of spacecraft during both the prospecting and mining phases of our operations. The wide range and diversity of near-Earth asteroids offer a suite of enticing targets.

Accessibility

Over 1,500 asteroids are as easy to reach as the Moon. When considering the return trip, that number increases to over 4,000 since an asteroid’s gravity well is quite weak when compared to that of the Moon. Several dozen asteroids require less energy than is required to put a television satellite into geostationary orbit. Water extracted from asteroids can be used for the rocket fuel needed for the return trip to Earth. This further improves the accessibility of asteroids.

Distance from Earth

While it is likely that some of Planetary Resources’ spacecraft will fly a lengthy trajectory to visit a distant asteroid, in certain cases, especially during our earliest missions, it can be helpful to target asteroids when they travel through the Earth-Moon system. Most asteroids do not travel that close to the Earth, but some do.

Given the rapid rate of discovery of near-Earth asteroids – and the increasing power and capability of asteroid surveys – it is quite likely that many of the best “neighborhood fly-by” candidates have yet to be discovered. In fact, some of Planetary Resources’ final destinations may only be found after our robotic explorers are already in space, a flexibility allowed by our distributed and responsive strategy for mission design.

Water Value

A 500 meter diameter water rich asteroid has $50B (billion) worth of water deliverable to a deep space fuel depot, even if one makes the conservative assumptions that: 1) only 1% of the water is extracted; 2) half of each load of water is consumed en route for propulsion; and 3) the success of commercial spaceflight causes the cost of Earth-originating launches to drop by a factor of 100. Of course, less conservative assumptions would raise the value of the asteroid to many trillions, or even tens of trillions, of dollars.

The economics of an asteroid mining operation can also be enhanced by the use of in-situ propellant. Mining spacecraft can travel across interplanetary space using water reclaimed from the very asteroid it is mining, leading to a high “mass payback ratio” where a single ton of mining equipment can be used to obtain hundreds of tons of mined resources.

Moving from Water to Metals

Once water mining operations are successful, the economics of space travel will have changed such that the reclamation of other asteroid resources becomes more feasible. In a very real sense, mining water ultimately enables the mining of metals.

Platinum group metals are extremely rare on Earth and these metals, and others like them, have special chemical properties that make them incredibly valuable for important industrial processes in the 21st century economy. An increase in abundance of rare metal resources could also enable new, unforeseen applications that exploit the properties of rare metals beyond the current state of practice.

Using Asteroid Metals in Space

In addition to being brought back to Earth, metals from asteroids can also be used directly in space. Metals like iron or aluminum can be moved to collection points in space for purposes such as space construction materials, spacecraft shielding, and raw material for industrial processes at, for example, a future NASA deep space L2 space station.


Asteroid Mining Plan

Three parts to the plan. Survey, prospect and then extract.
Have already hired experts in robotic operation in space and have developed a detailed roadmap.

Created a line of spacecraft and will start launching the first within 24 months

This company is not about paper studies.
This company is about building real hardware and doing real things in space.


The Leo Space Telescope is Planetary Resources’ first Arkyd Series 100 product. It will provide the company with the core spacecraft technologies necessary for asteroid prospecting while creating the first space telescope within reach of the private citizen. Leo contains the critical structures, avionics, attitude determination and control, and instrumentation that enable low-cost asteroid exploration.

The Leo Space Telescope provides spectacular views of the Earth’s surface and deep space, including the rich, virtually unexplored areas between our planet and the Sun. Central to its configuration and functionality is a precision imaging system. With arc-second resolution, the Leo spacecraft camera will provide detailed celestial and Earth observations where you want them, and when you want them. Leo is capable of surveying for near-Earth asteroids during one orbit, then be retasked for rain forest observation on the next. The possibilities for utility and engagement are only limited by the imagination of the user.


Arkyd Series 200 - Interceptor
Interceptor, a low cost asteroid mission that enables accelerated exploration


Adding propulsion capabilities and additional scientific instrumentation to the Leo Space Telescope enables an Earth-crossing asteroid Interceptor mission. Several undiscovered asteroids are seen for the first time as they routinely cross through Earth’s neighborhood. By hitching a ride with a launched satellite headed for a geostationary orbit, Interceptor will be well positioned to fly-by and collect data on these new targets of opportunity.

Two or more Interceptors can work together as a team to potentially identify, track and fly-by the asteroids that travel between the Earth and our Moon. The closest encounters may result in a planned spacecraft “intercept,” providing the highest-resolution data, similar to how government efforts first explored the Moon with the Ranger missions (1961-65) and later with the Deep Impact mission at Comet 9P/Tempel (2005).

These Interceptor missions will allow Planetary Resources to quickly acquire data on several near-Earth asteroids.

Arkyd Series 300 - Rendezvous Prospector
Characterizing an asteroid’s value and preparing for mining operations


By augmenting the Interceptor spacecraft with deep space laser communication capability, Planetary Resources can launch the Rendezvous Prospector mission to a more distant asteroid, much further away from Earth. Orbiting the asteroid, the Rendezvous Prospector will collect data on the asteroid’s shape, rotation, density, and surface and sub-surface composition.

Through the use of multiple Rendezvous Prospector spacecraft, Planetary Resources will distribute mission risk across several units and allow for broad based functionality within the cluster of spacecraft.

Rendezvous Prospector also results in the creation and demonstration of a low-cost interplanetary spacecraft capability, of interest to potential customers such as NASA, scientific agencies, or other private exploratory organizations.

Asteroid Mining
Redefining “natural resources” for the benefit of humanity


Initial space resource development will focus on water-rich asteroids. Water is the essence of life and exists in plentiful supply on asteroids. Access to water and other life-supporting volatiles in space provides hydration, breathable air, radiation shielding and even manufacturing capabilities. Water’s elements, hydrogen and oxygen, can also be used to formulate rocket fuel. Using the resources of space – to explore space – will enable the large-scale exploration of the Solar System.

Recovery and processing of materials in a microgravity environment will occur through significant research and development. Planetary Resources will lead the creation of critical in-situ extraction and processing technologies to provide access to both asteroidal water and metals. When combined with our low-cost deep space explorers, this represents an enabling capability for the sustainable development of space.

Only 1% of the Near Earth Asteroids that are 50 meter in size or larger have been identified. Up to one million near earth asteroid targets are expected to be identified.

Investors

Planetary Resources team

Charles Simonyi
Larry Page (google)
Eric Schmidt
Ross Perot Junior (first person to fly a helicopter around the world)
Irini Silver (spelling? )(first investor)

Additional investors include Rena Shulsky David, president and CEO of Shire Realty; Raymie Stata, entrepreneur and former Chief Technology Officer of Yahoo! and Kimberly Sweidy; and John C. Whitehead, former Chair and CEO of Goldman Sachs and 9th U.S. Deputy Secretary of State.


If we are successful we will open the solar system for deep space exploration by creating a network of fuel depots.

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