Crony Capitalism in Space?
Crony capitalism is just what it will take to make chicken salad out of the not-doable idea of mining near-earth asteroids.
That’s why it takes a group called Planetary Resources with connected front men like:
… Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, and Eric Schmidt, the company’s executive chairman; Mr. [James] Cameron, whose film “Avatar” depicted a corporate venture to extract natural resources from another planet; former Microsoft Corp. executive Charles Simonyi, who has made two trips to space and funded other related activity; Ram Shriram, a Google director and venture capitalist; and Ross Perot Jr., son of the Texas technology entrepreneur and former presidential candidate Ross Perot.
Former NASA Mars mission manager Chris Lewicki is listed in the press release as president and chief engineer of Planetary Resources, with Messrs. [Peter] Diamandis [Ansari X-Prize competition guy] and [former NASA guy Eric] Anderson as co-chairmen.
The problem, of course, is one of propulsion—getting things to space is really expensive—and recovery—getting things back to earth is problematic. But it’s also a problem of funding. If Boeing or Lockheed had proposed such an idea, they’d be laughed out of the building, but these people—of course—are different. They’re far-thinking futurists.
And that’s where the government comes in.
Because the idea of mining asteroids is inherently impractical, government (via its hyper-connected friends of government) could front the money for the endeavor, all in the name of technology, science and math, U.S. leadership in space, man’s desire to explore, etc., thus allowing the individuals in the block quote above to avoid risk and make money. Simple!
We’ll see a whole lot of return from mining and exploiting the sea-beds before we ever see anything of value from mining near-earth asteroids.