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Planetary Resources Kickstarter Meets Its Initial Goal 99

symbolset writes "Most of you know about Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company, and their Kickstarter campaign in the finest spirit of Heinlein's The Man Who Sold the Moon. The campaign has reached its minimum $1M goal to get funded with eight days left to go. In celebration, PR's CEO and Chief Asteroid Miner Chris Lewicki does an interview with Forbes where he discusses the future opportunities, the potential pitfalls, and the unlimited potential of private sector space exploitation. It's well worth the read. Planetary Resources' kickstarter has some worthy stretch goals that are well worth looking at, and the sort of supporter premiums that many Slashdotters will not want to miss. Only $175,000 more and they get a second ground station, at $2M they add exoplanet search capability. Both of these stretch goals are within reach."
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Planetary Resources Kickstarter Meets Its Initial Goal

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  • Just a few days ago (when it was published on I visited that campaign and it was a few thousands of dolars (around 15k, if I recall correctly). Now, Not more than a week later it reached 1,1 million? The number of people who supported it hasn't grown that much from that time. I don't recall the exact figure, unfortunately. I don't know, it just seems kinda fishy. They started the project may, 29 and they've got a little over 10k. Now, after a few days, they got to 1,1 million? Maybe oatmeal
    • Re:This is odd (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LordNimon ( 85072 ) on Saturday June 22, 2013 @11:43PM (#44082559)

      You must be remembering it wrong. Kicktraq shows steady progress over the project, and a surge of backers about three days ago: []

      • by aflag ( 941367 )
        I guess... I gotta believe in what the system say. However, I'm pretty sure it was very low a few days ago. I even commented it with my brother. Maybe it was a glitch or something like that.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I've been following since the beginning. They were at 50% of their goal in 48 hours. If you look through the news articles listed on the kicktraq link you can see, through the articles and the dates listed, the climb. I would not be surprised if there was a glitch though. The page tends to have issues with updating the counter some times.

        • by Splab ( 574204 )

          Why do you think there is a correlation between likes on the oatmeal and how much funding that project gets?

          • by aflag ( 941367 )
            I think it has a correlation on how much funding the project gets through oatmeal users, because I think a person who donates will usually like it too. I said that do debunk the hypothesis that oatmeal posting was the reason I thought it grew so fast. However, it has been stabilish that I probably experienced a glitch or bad memory.
  • by Maritz ( 1829006 ) on Saturday June 22, 2013 @11:44PM (#44082565)

    I don't see the connect between trying to monetise resources in space and building a Kepler 2. They seem like completely divergent goals.

    With respect to the second point I'd prefer to see something like the Terrestial Planet Finder [] but whatever.

    Good luck to them, there's a lot of useful stuff up there and you don't need to worry about leaving a mess.

    • Exoplanet observations involve both high resolution and timing. You have to steadily observe a star in order to observe the "dips" in light that it projects to "see" a planet transit. You have to image the star frequently at high resolution to observe the "wobble" that implies a heavy planet. While imaging the same spot is also a useful goal in finding and categorizing asteroids - particularly distant and small ones - adding the goal to the project involves extra work that must be funded.

      If it were a si

  • Hey, you didn't expect billionaire Planetary Ventures investors [] like Larry Page [] (net worth $23 B), Eric Schmidt [] ($8.2 B), Ross Perot Jr. [] ($1.4 B), K. Ram Shriram [] ($1.65 B), and Charles Simonyi [] ($1 B) to foot the bill, did you?

  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @01:24AM (#44082881) Journal

    While (I believe) current space treaties prohibit any COUNTRIES from claiming planetary bodies, it is not clear if a an individual or company can claim the resources on them.

    The U.N. should allow (and someday protect and enforce!) property rights.

    This might open up a huge wave of investment and exploration. Say (perhaps like shipwreck salvage rights) one could claim the exclusive mineral rights to a (piece of a) celestial body. Even if it weren't permanent, like only a 100 year lease, many people might be tempted (look at what the British did with Hong Kong; their administration help turn it from a fishing port into one of the world's great cities even though they knew they'd have to give it back to the Chinese. So a completely regulation/tax free environment on an asteroid might be useful (once prices to LEO become more reasonable, go Space X!).

    This has been mentioned as one of the possible ways to help get Africa out of its misery, if property rights could be accurately (right now it's a complete mess) determined and assigned it would become a source of capital that their people could buy and sell; in short it would open up a huge source of capital. Along with the proper controls (I know, that's the big problem) it could permanently stimulate their economies in a big way. (I understand the Chinese, in order to lock down property boundaries in their rural districts have been using google maps and satellite photos. Once properly recorded the villagers and make transactions confident in knowing that they have enforceable contracts).

    • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Sunday June 23, 2013 @02:44AM (#44083135) Journal
      Terrestrial notions of ownership don't apply outside Earth's atmosphere any more than Native American's notions of property survived the European invasion. On the frontier what matters is if you can take it and hold it long enough to form a local government to recognize your possession as ownership.
      • That's work if you can live in space long-term. But this isn't a space colonisation scenario (we can but dream), it's a space industry scenario. If you break the law in space, there's nothing to stop law enforcement from seizing your assets back on the ground.

        • If you break the law in space, there's nothing to stop law enforcement from seizing your assets back on the ground.

          "Nice city you have there, lots of friendly people. Be a pity if someone de-orbited a four ton rock on it, wouldn't it?"

          • Then you'd better have a sustainable life support system, because you're never coming back down, and they won't be letting any supplies go up. If you want to play supervillain, make sure you have enough handy rocks to terrify the whole world. And failsafe deorbiting rockets, so they won't be tempted to sneak a bomb onto a supply rocket and blow it after docking.

            • You really don't understand how corporations work, do you?
              • If a corporation threatens to blow up a city, just how limited do you think the liability will be?

                • Have you ever seen a corporation sentenced to prison time? How would that even be done?
                  • Because the corporation may be a fuzzy collective, but it is still made up of people. People who would have to give the ultimatum, people who would design the WMD. People can be arrested. It takes a lot to puncture the shield of corporate liability, but I think terrorist threats should prove sufficient.

                    Do you imagine that if Al Quida were to incorporate formally, Osama would have been allowed to go free after 9/11?*

                    *Ok, there is still an element of doubt about just how involved he was personally, but you ge

    • Property rights are no different in space than on Earth - you may claim anything you want, but you may only hold what you can defend. The twist here is that asteroids are currently not claimed by a sovereign nation, and very few have any capability to even attempt to take or defend property in space by force.

    • by XcepticZP ( 1331217 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @07:35AM (#44084049)
      Sorry, but what makes you think the UN or any existing country should have the rights to anything up there, or enforce them the rights for that matter? They already sucked up ALL the friggin land on our planet, leaving no room for anyone to settle/migrate, instead forcing us to be subservient to their supposed social contract and morally corrupt laws. You'd like them to then project this ownership to yet-unclaimed land, that they would then be oh-so-generous to lease to us with a supposedly "regulation/tax free environment"?

      Sorry about the mini-rant, and a little off topic. But it is a whole new world up there that is full of opportunities; and to sully it with a dirty thing such as heavy government is such a bad idea. Even you yourself admit that a regulation/tax free environment is a good thing for some reason, yet fail to make the connection with government. Government is the one that sucks productivity with regulations and taxes, for very little, waste-filled gain.
      • On the other hand, governments provide roads, police service and sanitation, at least where they are functioning properly. I am of the belief that a government is of, for, and by the people. Who exactly are we trying to blame?
    • Technically, the 1979 Moon Agreement prohibits private persons and corporation from claiming ownership of celestial bodies. The problem is that the agreement is generally ignored, with few signatories, which include none of the space powers, and therefore it has negligible impact.

      It would actually be interesting to see how the arrival of private companies to spaceflight and space resource extraction changes the legal regime: the 1967 Outer Space Treaty is badly outdated, and needs to be updated at the very

      • by julesh ( 229690 )

        It's also not clear why an agreement signed by any nation would be binding on an individual who would (if they happenened to be a citizen of such a nation) be free to change their nationality to that of a non-signatory (and I don't think you'd be hard pressed to find a non-signatory that would be happy to welcome the citizenship of somebody who owned a siginficant portion of a celestial body).

        • That part is actually a bit more complicated than that. And since there have been no cases in this topic before (and likely won't be in the near future), one can only guess.

          One important point, though, is that the neutrality and non-sovereignty of space is a ius cogens norm of international law by now: it actually doesn't require a treaty to be upheld, but it's still a good thing to have one. Therefore, I think welcoming such a person would be only slightly less riskier than holding a welcome party for Osam

    • Say (perhaps like shipwreck salvage rights) one could claim the exclusive mineral rights to a (piece of a) celestial body.

      Except - that's not even remotely how shipwreck salvage rights work.

      Even if it weren't permanent, like only a 100 year lease, many people might be tempted (look at what the British did with Hong Kong; their administration help turn it from a fishing port into one of the world's great cities even though they knew they'd have to give it back to the Chinese.

      Again, seriously discon

  • ... that there's no market for the mined resources in space, and it's too expensive to transport them back to earth.

    It's the main problem of private sector space exploration - the companies need to make their money "on earth", but mine the resources "off earth".

    Of course, if you had another company with assets in space that you could sell your stuff too, the problem would be greatly diminished. That would require a criticial mass of private space activites that would sustain an exchange of resources "off

    • there's no market for the mined resources in space, and it's too expensive to transport them back to earth.

      Not really, it's easy to transport stuff from space back to earth. The expensive part is getting things up from Earth to space, which is the problem asteroid mining is trying to solve.

    • I used to imagine that NASA would invent asteroid mining to support construction of a station or vessel.

      Now I imagine that China will invent asteroid mining just to come up with enough metal to let everyone have a car

  • Antimatter could be collected on the moon as there is no atmosphere we could use solar panels more effectively and then antimatter, which is very small could be transported back to earth.

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