Mining Asteroids

Some scientists and entrepreneurs say they’ll go to outer space for precious metals. We’ll think about that.

This computer-generated image provided by Planetary Resources, a group of high-tech tycoons that wants to mine nearby asteroids, shows a conceptual rendering of a spacecraft preparing to capture a water-rich, near-Earth asteroid. (AP)

This computer-generated image provided by Planetary Resources, a group of high-tech tycoons that wants to mine nearby asteroids, shows a conceptual rendering of a spacecraft preparing to capture a water-rich, near-Earth asteroid. (AP)

In the old days, we sang about fear and fortune way down in the mines. This week, the mining talk was way up in space. Mining asteroids. A bunch of rich guys with big track records and big dreams have formed a new company – Planetary Resources – to chase down asteroids and suck out their riches. Platinum. Iridium. Water in space.

If it sounds like the movie Avatar, well, director James Cameron is in the venture. So are Google guys. And Microsoft money. Is this for real?

This hour, On Point: Planetary Resources founder Eric Anderson and more. We’re thinking about mining asteroids.

-Tom Ashbrook


J. Kelly Beatty, contributing editor at Sky & Telescope magazine.

Eric Anderson, co-founder and co-chairman of Planetary Resources, Inc.

Henry Hertzfeld, Research Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs at George Washington University.

From Tom’s Reading List

You can read more about the asteroid mining plan at the website of the company behind the idea, Planetary Resources.

Christian Science Monitor “Google Inc executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt and filmmaker James Cameron are among those bankrolling a venture to survey and eventually extract precious metals and rare minerals from asteroids that orbit near Earth, the company said on Tuesday.”

Discovery News “Although Tuesday’s exciting announcement that the asteroid mining start-up Planetary Resources has attracted some very high-profile investors and advisers, it’s probably a good idea to take a step back and understand why we don’t already have refineries attached to near-Earth asteroids.” “The prospect of mining asteroids may sound like science fiction, but that’s exactly what the ambitious new company Planetary Resources, Inc. plans to do — and a recent study by  NASA, university and private groups says it’s actually possible.”

Video: CBS News On Asteroid Mining

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