This April, a group of investors, together with several veterans of the aerospace field, established a new company, Planetary Resources, whose task is to develop minerals contained in asteroids. “Relying on a breakthrough in the scientific and technical field implies an exceptional commercial risk,” says Peter Diamandis, co-chairman of the board of the startup. The company is supported by pioneers in the technical field, such as Google CEO Larry Page, film director and inventor James Cameron, Microsoft programming guru Charles Simony. Of course, all these people do not count on a quick return on investment. “Flights to asteroids will begin in a few years,” says another co-chair, Eric Anderson, “but we plan our activities based on a hundred-year-long development perspective for this industry.”
Planetary Resources is going to build a fleet of such small-sized space telescopes, reducing the cost of each to at least $ 10 million. This strategy allows you to insure yourself in case of failure of one of the devices. “It’s necessary to put this work on the assembly line,” says Levitsky (he previously worked on the subject of flights to Mars in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory). “It would be wrong to invest all the money in one precious device, so that later you can rush with it like with a written bag.”
At this stage, the company will already make its first attempt to recoup its investments by renting Arkyd 100 devices. Space-based telescopes may interest both astronomers and those scientists who would be interested in exploring the earth’s surface with a resolution of about 2 m per pixel. Planetary Resources plans to launch its first device by the end of 2013, and what the cost of rent will be, the company management has not yet decided.