From Trillionaires to Open Source Ware: Planetary Resources Falls to Earth

Atari Asteroids arcade game. (Credit: James G. Murphy Co.)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

When it came out of stealth mode in 2012, Planetary Resources promised to fuel the development of the solar system and mint the world’s first trillionaires by mining the riches of the asteroids.

Eight years later, Planetary Resources’ trillionaire-making intellectual property has been open sourced for anyone to use by ConsenSys, a block chain startup that purchased the company in October 2018.

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Report: China Could Follow South China Sea Strategy in Seeking Space Resources

Optical Mining of Asteroids, Moons, and Planets to Enable Sustainable Human Exploration and Space Industrialization (Credits: Joel Sercel)

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine how China is seeking to shape the governance of space activities. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China’s actions in asserting sovereignty over the disputed South China Sea could serve as a model by which that nation would claim extraterrestrial resources and consolidate its control over key space assets, a new report to the U.S. Congress warned.

“Contrary to international norms governing the exploration and commercial exploitation of space, statements from senior Chinese officials signal Beijing’s belief in its right to claim use of space-based resources in the absence of a clear legal framework specifically regulating mining in space,” according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 report.

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China’s Ambitious Plans to Dominate Cislunar Space

China’s Yutu 2 rover drives off the Chang’e-4 lander. (Credit: CNSA)

Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine China’s plans to achieve a commanding position in cislunar space. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China is determined to establish a commanding position in cislunar space, seeing it as a strategic location from which to dominate the final frontier.

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Planetary Resources Pivots From Mining Asteroids to Open Source Satellite Tracking

Formed in 2010 to mine asteroids so its founders could become the world’s first trillionaires, Planetary Resources has now pivoted to developing “TruSat, an open source, open-sensor system for creating a globally-accessible, independent record of satellite orbital positions.”

The company, now known as ConsenSys Space after it was acquired last year by a blockchain software technology startup, made the announcement on Tuesday at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, DC.

A message from ConsenSys Space’s Chris Lewicki follows.

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NASA Supports ‘Wild’ Ideas to Bring About New Space Tech

Swarm-Probe Enabling ATEG Reactor, or SPEAR, is a nuclear electric propulsion spacecraft concept that proposes a new, lightweight reactor moderator and advanced thermoelectric generators to deliver scientific payloads to anywhere in the solar system. SPEAR was selected in April 2019 as a NIAC Phase I. (Credit: Howe Industries LLC)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has a wild side. In fact, the agency has a program dedicated to nurturing visionary ideas that could transform future NASA missions with the creation of breakthroughs—radically better or entirely new aerospace concepts.

For years, NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) has supported early-stage research through multiple phases of study, competitively selecting Phase I and follow-on Phase II projects each year.

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Deep Space Industries Acquired by Bradford Space

SAN JOSE, Calif., January 2, 2019 (Bradford Space PR) — Bradford Space, a U.S.-owned space systems manufacturer with locations in the Netherlands and Sweden, announced today that it has acquired control over Deep Space Industries, Inc., often known as DSI. In becoming part of the Bradford group, DSI will become Bradford’s first substantial U.S. presence, providing an outlet and location for activities in the U.S. space market.

Founded in 2012 as an ambitious effort to mine the resources of the asteroids, DSI has more recently become known for the production of the Comet water-based electrothermal propulsion system. Four Comet systems are currently on orbit on spacecraft operated by Capella Space and HawkEye 360. Other customers of DSI include LeoStella, a joint venture of Spaceflight and Thales Alenia Space, and the Space Flight Laboratory, a satellite development group inside the University of Toronto.

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Planetary Resources’ New Owner Seems a Bit Flaky

Forbes takes a critical look at cryptocurrency/block chain guru Joe Lubin, whose ConsenSys company purchased asteroid mining company Planetary Resources. (Although given the headline, critical seems polite: Cryptopia In Crisis: Joe Lubin’s Ethereum Experiment Is A Mess. How Long Will He Prop It Up?)

So, how does asteroid mining fit into Lubin’s master plan?

Lubin insists ConsenSys is getting more selective in picking projects. But old habits die hard. In October it bought a nine-year-old asteroid-mining company called Planetary Resources. “We see it as a group of amazingly capable people who are interested in exploring how blockchain could ramify on space operations,” Lubin says abstrusely.

Ramify? Huh…

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Luxembourg Lost $13.7 Million on Planetary Resources Investment

Luxembourg Economy Minister Etienne Schneider has disclosed to Parliament that the nation lost €12 million ($13.7 million) investing in the asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, the Luxembourg Times reports.

In October, Luxembourg sold its stake in the company, which was acquired by the block chain management firm ConsenSYS.

The SNCI set up the SAAM Luxembourg, a company created with €13.75 million [$15.7 million], of which €12 million [$13.7 million] was directly invested in Planetary Resources for the 10% stake in its shares.

“This decision to sell results, among other things, from an analysis of the particular American legal context and prudent management which intends to limit the potential exposures of SAAM Luxembourg, or even of SNCI as sole shareholder of SAAM Luxembourg,” Schneider explained.

“The realised capital loss corresponds roughly to the value adjustment (of 100% of the sums invested in Planetary Resources) in the accounts in SAAM Luxembourg’s 2017 annual results,” he added.











Luxembourg Pivots Right Out of Planetary Resources’ Investment


The government of Luxembourg’s investment in asteroid miner turned block chainer Planetary Resources is over, the Luxembourg Times reports.

The Luxembourg government sold its 10% stake in US space firm Planetary Resources ahead of its takeover by blockchain venture ConsenSys.

ConsenSys announced on Wednesday it had acquired Planetary Resources through an asset-purchase transaction.

The Luxembourg government first took a stake in the company in 2016, when the Economy Ministry signed a memorandum of understanding and agreed to invest €25 million. 

The Luxembourg government has also invested in Planetary Resources’ rival, Deep Space Industries.











Planetary Resources Pivots Again: From Asteroid Mining to Block Chain

NEW YORK (ConsenSys PR) — Blockchain venture production studio ConsenSys, Inc. has acquired the pioneering space company Planetary Resources, Inc. through an asset-purchase transaction. Planetary Resources’ President & CEO Chris Lewicki and General Counsel Brian Israel have joined ConsenSys in connection with the acquisition.
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Planetary Resources to Auction off Equipment

Well, this doesn’t sound good.

In a fresh sign of the financial straits facing Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company will be auctioning off hundreds of items from its headquarters in Redmond, Wash., ranging from industrial-strength CNC machine tools and 3-D printers to laptops and folding chairs.

The online auction will be conducted by James G. Murphy & Co. from Aug. 21 to 28, with a preview scheduled on Aug. 27 at Planetary Resources’ machine shop, lab and offices at 6742 185th Ave. NE in Redmond.

“We are preparing to sell some equipment that we’ve identified as not currently needed and easily replaceable,” Chris Lewicki, Planetary Resources’ president, CEO and chief asteroid miner, told GeekWire in an email. “This is a result of reducing overhead as we go forward with our smaller team.”

Word is the company is down to a handful of employees. Asteroid mining is a long-term venture; Planetary Resources hasn’t found a revenue model that can get it from here to there.











Planetary Resources Declares Arkyd-6 a Success

Arkyd-6 spacecraft (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Mission Update from Planetary Resources

On January 12, 2018, we launched the Arkyd-6, a 6U CubeSat, a demonstration platform for technology intended to detect water resources in space. The launch on the Indian PSLV C40 was spectacular and within hours after our spacecraft reached its polar Earth orbit, the team began to regularly receive healthy telemetry from the spacecraft.

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