Google, Ross Perot Jr. James Cameron and asteroid mining? In space?!
What would you say if I told you that deep space exploration and resource gathering were in our [relatively] near future?
Now what would you say if I told you that the government space programs of the world had absolutely nothing to do with it?
Well, that’s exactly what’s going on. Corporate and privately funded deep space exploration is on the horizon and I, for one, think it’s about damned time someone stepped up to the plate and started looking outward, toward the future.
So it seems that a bunch of really rich dudes have gotten together and come up with the idea that we need to be exploring space. Amazing, because I could have told you that 30 years ago, when I got my first telescope. It was such a piece of crap that I couldn’t even make out the craters on the moon with any detail but it was definitely enough to get me thinking about all the stuff that’s out there and how much we could learn, and do, if we could just get to some of it.
I jumped up and down with joy when we launched the first space shuttle (I actually ditched school that day and sat home, smoking my mom’s cigarettes and watching the launch on television…Sorry dad!) because I thought that this was going to be the event which would usher in a whole new age of exploration and discovery. Unfortunately, it was really just an age of launching stuff into the sky and then going back up to fix it and other than the various telescopes we have up there now, not much of any use has come from the shuttle program.
Here we are now, in 2012, at a time in which some of the people on this rock have at least a little bit of a clue and are interested in expansion and exploration. We’ve got a couple of private companies working on space flight and have just been hit with the announcement that some of the richest dudes around are throwing their money into the pot to make these things a reality.
Enter “Planetary Resources, Inc.”
Here’s what the press release has to say about it.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2012
*** Media Alert *** Media Alert *** Media Alert ***
Space Exploration Company to Expand Earth’s Resource Base
Join visionary Peter H. Diamandis, M.D.; leading commercial space entrepreneur Eric Anderson; former NASA Mars mission manager Chris Lewicki; and planetary scientist & veteran NASA astronaut Tom Jones, Ph.D. on Tuesday, April 24 at 10:30 a.m. PDT in Seattle, or via webcast, as they unveil a new space venture with a mission to help ensure humanity’s prosperity.
Supported by an impressive investor and advisor group, including Google’s Larry Page & Eric Schmidt, Ph.D.; film maker & explorer James Cameron; Chairman of Intentional Software Corporation and Microsoft’s former Chief Software Architect Charles Simonyi, Ph.D.; Founder of Sherpalo and Google Board of Directors founding member K. Ram Shriram; and Chairman of Hillwood and The Perot Group Ross Perot, Jr., the company will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of ‘natural resources’.
The news conference will be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle on Tuesday, April 24 at 10:30 a.m. PDT and available online via webcast.
WHEN: Tuesday, April 24
10:30 a.m. PDT
WHO: Charles Simonyi, Ph.D., Space Tourist, Planetary Resources, Inc. Investor
Eric Anderson, Co-Founder & Co-Chairman, Planetary Resources, Inc.
Peter H. Diamandis, M.D., Co-Founder & Co-Chairman, Planetary Resources, Inc.
Chris Lewicki, President & Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources, Inc.
Tom Jones, Ph.D., Planetary Scientist, Veteran NASA Astronaut & Planetary Resources, Inc. Advisor
WHERE: Charles Simonyi Space Gallery at The Museum of Flight
9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle, WA 98108
Event will also be streamed online.
I don’t know about anyone else but I think this is awesome. It’s about damned time someone got off their duff and decided to make space the next great frontier for humanity. It seems to me like these guys intend do more than just exploration, though. With the mention of “natural resources” this whole thing smacks of mining…like space mining…like mining asteroids…like Eve Online, in the real world.
Can we finally put behind us the days of fail and finally get to some winning? I really hope so because, as you’re about to find out, I’m pretty much of the opinion that this planet is full of people who call themselves scientists but are, in fact, nothing more than run-of-the-mill idiots.
Warning: Rant incoming.
I don’t mean to sound cynical (ok, really I do) but we’ve been doing space flight for decades and the greatest accomplishments we’ve managed to pull off, as a species, are to land on our own moon and put a couple of remote controlled cars on Mars. Remote controlled cars which never even worked right.
Now, forgive me for being even more cynical but how is it that some of the “brightest minds” in the world, with budgets which rival the GDP of many countries can’t manage to make a remote control car that works properly? I mean, really? A government think tank with billions of dollars in R&D money and some of the most advanced technology known to man can’t manage to create something that RADIO SHACK has been selling for nearly 50 years?
I had remote controlled cars when I was a kid! My parents could run down to the local dime-store and spend a few bucks on a plastic corvette which I could drive around and smash in to things, drive off of walls and curbs and flip over, kick them upright and take off again and those things would run and run and run for ages. Somehow, though, The most impressive thing NASA can manage is to spend a couple of BILLION dollars on a remote controlled car that gets half-way out of its box and breaks.
HOW DO THESE PEOPLE STILL HAVE JOBS?!
Sure, sure, I understand that it’s a bit different trying to engineer a remote controlled car which you can operate from 50 million miles away, as opposed to 50 feet, and which can send real time telemetry and atmospheric data and soil analyses back to the eggheads at mission control but here’s the thing – It’s never that stuff that breaks, it’s always easy stuff like “the wheels won’t turn” or “the battery’s dead” or “the grabber got stuck”. THE BATTERY’S DEAD?! You get paid like $100,000 a year to build 2 billion dollar remote controlled cars and you didn’t think to charge the damned batteries?!
And once they finally managed to get a car out of the box and get it to drive around, what did they find out? I’ll tell you: There’s no apparent life on mars, it’s dry and dusty and it seems that, at one point, there may have been some water there.
Really? Because I’m pretty sure I knew that in 1979. I mean, what are these people doing?! Why are we content to throw billions of dollars at putting mobile handi-cams on our closest accessible planetary neighbor instead of working to put a group of people there? I’m pretty damned sure it doesn’t billions of dollars to build a person and I’m really, REALLY sure a couple of dozen people (still not billions of dollars) could get out, frolic around mars, take samples, have a martian dance party, radio back audio and video, join the 50-million-mile-high club, construct and build permanent communications relays, do some digging in the soil to see if they can find water and maybe, if someone’s smart enough to remember to pack the supplies, build a little station there, where people can live for months at a time and go on walkabout every few days or so, collecting more soil samples and setting up more equipment.
We have a station floating around Earth, zipping along at like 17,239 miles per hour. How is it that we can’t seem to engineer a house on Mars?
You know what’s even worse, though? The crap we’re doing here on Earth. Palaeontology, really? How many millions of dollars are spent, each year, on people digging up bones? I know I’m going to catch a world of grief for this one but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway; Your fossils are worthless. They serve absolutely no purpose at all. The dinosaur bone you just unearthed in Chile will do absolutely nothing to advance the human race. It will provide no progress at all in the movement to rid the world of famine, disease, war, greenhouse gasses or celebrity debutantes. You’d do more good to our species by designing imitation bacon that really does taste like bacon. Or, you know, helping those morons at NASA design an o-ring that won’t blow up a space ship.
And every time one of these hippies digs up a new skull that has 42 teeth instead of the other, identical skull, which only had 40, they run off and get millions in grant money so they can spend 6 months thinking up a clever new name for the 150 million year old lizard. “Oooh, Let’s call this one the We’rerichasaurus!”
Paleotempestology? Yeah, that’s a real science. They study old storms. Be still, my beating heart. Yeah, we know there were hurricanes and tornadoes and thunder storms in ancient history. How about devoting some time to figuring out when the weather patterns well be right for launching a manned mission to Mars instead of wasting humanity’s time figuring out that a strong wind knocked a ladybug off a plant 100,000 years ago, morons.
And don’t even get me started on Archaeology. I could go on about that one for days and days. Here’s a science devoted entirely to digging up ancient bodies and looking for old cities. Guess what, Indy – those people are dead and nobody but you cares that they died because a kid was being a douchebag and knocked a granite block off the roof of a crumbling building, which then hit the poor sap in the head. I absolutely promise you that finding and digging up yet another egyptian tomb will provide us with precisely nothing which will aid in the advancement and expansion of the human race. Finding a 4,000 year old jar of honey stored in the burial tomb of yet another pharoah about whom NOBODY CARES will do nothing about the current economic crises around the world and will not, in any way, shape or form, get us any closer to figuring out when we’re going to get hit by an asteroid the size of Guam or attacked by an alien race because we can’t figure out how to stop pointing nuclear missiles at everything that gets in our way.
You’d be doing just as much good for the human race if you took that 4,000 year old jar of honey and entombed it in your rectum. You’re useless. Take a shower, cut your hair, go back to college and study something that’s going to be more useful to us…like how to construct an interplanetary drive mechanism.
Yep, that’s right. I said it. These people are less useful than a back pocket on a shirt. Their “science” is bunk and does absolutely nothing for the ADVANCEMENT of humanity. If you have a problem with that, try to prove me wrong…I dare you (and don’t come at me with this “If you don’t understand history, you’re doomed to repeat it” crap because we’re not anywhere close to ever being in the position the dinosaurs or the ancient Babylonians were in. We have lasers, for Christ’s sake. Did the triceratops have a laser? No, he didn’t, even though that would have been just about the most bad-ass thing in the history of our planet. Imagine it…A triceratops with laser-horns.
I’ll give you a moment to clean up…
At the end of all of this, I think my point has been made. We need to stop spending time looking inward and backward and start spending ALL of our time looking outward and forward. Space is the only thing we, as a people, have yet to conquer. Well, other than disease, poverty and famine BUT, the jobs opened up by space exploration could put an end to poverty and we may just get lucky and find the cure for cancer floating around on an asteroid out there. And when we have jobs for everyone and new medical technology, I’m pretty sure nobody will be going hungry anymore.
So here’s to space! Let’s get out there and get deep up in it!