New venture aims to mine near-Earth asteroids

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Joel Achenbach
Washington Post

April 25, 2012

Asteroids have made people nervous for several decades now, ever since scientists declared that a large object from space smashed into Earth 65 million years ago and put the kibosh on the Age of Dinosaurs. But now some entrepreneurs and tech tycoons are declaring that there’s money in those space rocks.

Untold thousands of asteroids the size of warehouses orbit the sun near Earth, and some of them are enticingly rich in water and precious metals. The water could be processed to create fuel depots for spaceships, not to mention beverages for astronauts. The metals, including platinum, could be mined and brought back to Earth.

It’s a big idea whose time has come, at least on the West Coast. The entrepreneurs unveiled their plan at a Tuesday news conference at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

“This is directly in line with every major exploration that ­humanity has done,” space visionary Peter Diamandis said in an interview earlier in the day. “It is in line with Magellan, and Columbus, all the great explorers in the 1400s and 1500s, crossing the Atlantic and looking for resources.”

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