Looks like some big-name entrepreneurs are teaming up to pioneer asteroid mining – Planetary Resources:
Planetary Resources’ mission is clear: apply commercial, innovative techniques to explore space. We will develop low-cost robotic spacecraft to explore the thousands of resource-rich asteroids within our reach. We will learn everything we can about them, then develop the most efficient capabilities to deliver these resources directly to both space-based and terrestrial customers. Asteroid mining may sound like fiction, but it’s just science.
It does indeed sound like fiction. Readers of In the Shadow of Ares will recall a brief aside concerning Eleanor, an asteroid being moved into Mars orbit for mining purposes by a company called the Renaissance Project. Notice that we even got the initials right (just in the opposite order).
What makes this coincidental connection all the more interesting is that we will be seeing a lot more of Eleanor at the beginning of the sequel…along with questions of ownership, liability, and economics similar to those being asked about today’s announcement.