Number of Billionaires Investing in Space Projects Grows

Forbes has published its annual list of the planet’s billionaires. A small but growing number of them are either directly supporting major space projects or doing so through the companies that they run.

 15Jeff Bezos51 $34.8Amazon.comBlue Origin
16Mark Zuckerberg30
 $33.4FacebookGlobal satellite network
19Larry Page41$29.7 GoogleSpaceX, Planetary Resources, Planetary Ventures, Google Lunar X Prize, Skybox
20Sergey Brin 41 $29.2GoogleSpaceX, Planetary Ventures, Google Lunar X Prize, Skybox
43Charles Ergen62$19.8DISH NetworkDISH Network
51Paul Allen62 $17.5 Microsoft, investmentsStratolaunch Systems, SETI, Mojave Aerospace Ventures (SpaceShipOne)
100Elon Musk43$12PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, SolarCitySpaceX
137Eric Schmidt59$9.1GoogleSpaceX, Google Lunar X Prize, Planetary Ventures, Skybox
330Richard Branson
64$4.8Virgin GroupVirgin Galactic, Planetary Resources, OneWeb
1006Kavitark Ram Shriram58$1.9Google, venture capitalPlanetary Resources
1105H. Ross Perot, Jr.56$1.8 Computer services, real estatePlanetary Resources
1324Charles Simonyi 67$1.4MicrosoftPlanetary Resources
1415Peter Sperling55$1.3University of PhoenixEcliptic Enterprises

I’ve added Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook to the list this year. His company is reportedly working on a global broadband network that would involve satellites, although details of the plan have not been made public.

I’ve left off Cirque du Soleil’s Guy Laliberte, who came in at number 1006 with a net worth of $1.9 billion. Although he once took a trip to the International Space Station, he is not known to be funding any major space projects at the moment.

Update: I’ve added Charles Ergen and Peter Sperling to the list. Big shout out to Rex Ridenoure over at Ecliptic Enterprises.

Planetary Resources Unveils Asteroid Mining Plan

Seattle, Wash. – Planetary Resources PRApril 24, 2012  – Planetary Resources, Inc. announced today its plan to mine Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) for raw materials, ranging from water to precious metals. Through the development of cost-effective exploration technologies, the company is poised to initiate prospecting missions targeting resource-rich asteroids that are easily accessible.

Resource extraction from asteroids will deliver multiple benefits to humanity and grow to be valued at tens of billions of dollars annually. The effort will tap into the high concentration of precious metals found on asteroids and provide a sustainable supply to the ever-growing population on Earth.

A single 500-meter platinum-rich asteroid contains the equivalent of all the Platinum Group Metals mined in history.


New Study Says Asteroid Retrieval and Mining Feasible With Existing and Near-Term Technologies

Illustration of an asteroid retrieval spacecraft in the process of capturing a 7-m, 500-ton asteroid. (Image Credit: Rick Sternbach / KISS)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

A new study sponsored by the Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) has concluded that it would be possible to return an asteroid weighing approximately 500 metric tons to high lunar orbit where it would be mined for resources by 2025.

The Asteroid Retrieval Feasibility Study, published on April 2, was prepared for KISS, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Co-leaders of the study included John Brophy of NASA JPL/Caltech, Fred Culick of Caltech, and Louis Friedman of The Planetary Society and participants included representatives of other NASA centers, various universities, institutes and private companies.

The report may provide a preview of what a new company named Planetary Resources spearheaded by the X PRIZE Foundation’s Peter Diamandis will unveil during a press conference in Seattle next Tuesday. Two of the 34 study participants were Planetary Resources President and Chief Engineer Chris Lewicki and former astronaut Tom Jones, who is an adviser to the company. The start-up – which is backed by Google billionaires Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Microsoft mogul Charles Simonyi, filmmaker James Cameron, and Ross Perot, Jr. – says it 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’.”


Diamandis, Anderson and Simonyi to Launch Extraterrestrial Mining Company


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’.


Space Adventures’ Eric Anderson Joins Charles Simonyi at Intentional Software Corp.

Charles Simonyi

BELLEVUE, Wash.–Intentional Softwareâ„¢ Corporation today announced that Eric Anderson, co-founder and chairman of Space Adventures, Inc., has joined Intentional Software as president of the company working with Intentional founder and chairman, Charles Simonyi. Anderson, an experienced entrepreneur who pioneered and was the first to monetize the business of human spaceflight, has responsibility for bringing Intentional’s transformative technology to the worldwide marketplace.


Retired Mega-Millionaut Simonyi Finally Free to Spend Time With Hot Young Wife

Love ends career of astronaut tourist
Russia Today

Charles Simoni is reported to have signed a contract promising his wife, 28-year-old model Lisa Persdotter, that he would never go into space again.

“I have not spent much time with my wife, unfortunately. We have many, many plans together and I’ll always be interested in space, as I have been, but not as actively as going on a flight,” confessed space tourist Simonyi during a media briefing at Star City in the Moscow region.


Billionaut Lands Safely After 13-Day Working Vacation

Russian Spacecraft Carrying Billionaire Space Tourist Lands Safely

A billionaire space tourist and two professional astronauts returned safely to Earth Wednesday aboard a Russian spacecraft, bringing a successful end to their respective missions to the International Space Station.

American space tourist Charles Simonyi and the station’s returning Expedition 18 crew touched down on the Central Asian steppes of Kazakhstan at 3:16 a.m. EDT (0716 GMT), their Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft parachuting to a pinpoint landing.


Mega-Millionaut Space Tourist Simonyi Arrives at ISS


Space Adventures, Ltd., the only company that provides human space missions to the world marketplace, announced today that its orbital client Charles Simonyi and his crew successfully arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) after launching onboard the Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 26.

The spacecraft docked to the ISS at 9:05 a.m. (EDT) with Dr. Simonyi and Expedition 19 crewmembers Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and NASA astronaut Michael Barratt. They were greeted at approximately 12:30 p.m. (EDT) by the Expedition 18 crew, which includes NASA astronaut Michael Fincke, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, when the hatch to the space station opened.


Tech Entrepreneurs Fuel Space Tourism With Fortunes

Next Stop For Tech Entrepreneurs: Space Travel
Information Week

The most interesting high tech entrepreneur may also be the most secretive. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon has been building his Blue Origin operation in a remote area of Texas. Blue Origin’s vertical-takeoff vertical-landing rocket ship is being designed to take paying customers on sub orbital space rides. Blue Origin’s timetable has called for commercial trips to get underway next year.


Charles Simonyi: The Last Billionaut – at Least for a While

Is American Billionaire the Last Space Tourist?

American billionaire Charles Simonyi lifted off toward the International Space Station (ISS) this morning on a Russian rocket, after paying the Russian Federal Space Agency $35 million through Space Adventures. The trip is Simonyi’s second – he previously flew to the ISS in 2007 – but could be the firm’s last for a couple years.


Space Tourist Simonyi Heads Back to ISS on Thursday

US billionaire promises productive space trip
Associated Press

The Hungarian-born software designer joined U.S. flight engineer Michael Barratt and Russian commander Gennady Padalka for last-minute preparations Wednesday as the three counted down the hours to blast off from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome.

On Thursday, the three men are scheduled to soar into the evening skies over northern Kazakh steppes on their way to the orbiting station, some 220 miles (350 kilometers) above the Earth.


Millionaut Simonyi’s Flight to Include Educational, Scientific Work


In preparation for his March 26 launch, Charles Simonyi has outlined the mission objectives he hopes to achieve during his second visit to the International Space Station (ISS). Dr. Simonyi is the seventh orbital client for Space Adventures, Ltd., the only company that provides human space missions to the world marketplace.

Dr. Simonyi will make history during his spaceflight by becoming the first private explorer to complete a second mission to space.  He previously flew to the ISS in spring 2007 as Space Adventures’ fifth orbital client. On his return mission, Dr. Simonyi aims to continue to make contributions toward space research, and advance civilian space travel while inspiring kids in their studies of science and math.