Tag: Planetary Resources

Asteroid Property Rights Legislation Introduced in Congress

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Welcome WRANGLER, a NIAC-funded idea to capture and de-spin asteroids and space debris. (Credit: Robert Hoyt/Tethers Unlimited)

Welcome WRANGLER, a NIAC-funded idea to capture and de-spin asteroids and space debris. (Credit: Robert Hoyt/Tethers Unlimited)

Legislation that would grant property rights to entities mining asteroids has been introduced in Congress.

“Any asteroid resources obtained in outer space are the property of the entity that obtained such resources, which shall be entitled to all property rights thereto, consistent with applicable provisions of Federal law,” the measure states.

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NASA Selects Planetary Resources for 2 SBIR Phase II Contracts

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NASA has selected asteroid mining company Planetary Resources for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II awards for the development of advanced CubeSat technologies.

One SBIR project involved the development of a hybrid green monopropellant/cold-gas propulsion system called the Integrated Propulsion and Primary Structure Module (IPPSM). The module would provide “a standard interface, serving as the strongback for simple integration of other Cubesat subsystems and payloads within the 6U and 12U size regimes.”

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Planetary Resources, Planet Labs Launching Satellites Aboard Dragon

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The asteroid mining company Planetary Resources is launching its first test satellite aboard a SpaceX Dragon resupply ship today. The Arkyd 3 Reflight (A3R) satellite will test out technologies for the company’s future spacecraft. It will be launched from the International Space Station at a later date.

The first Arkyd test satellite was lost when Orbital Sciences’ Antares launch vehicle exploded shortly after liftoff in October. The spacecraft was aboard a Cygnus resupply ship headed for the space station.

Planet Labs is sending up 14 more of its Dove remote sensing spacecraft aboard the mission. They are being launched as secondary payloads.

New Software Helps in Detection of Asteroids

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These photos show the relative size of three asteroids that have been imaged at close range by spacecraft. Mathilde (37 x 29 miles) (left) was taken by the NEAR spacecraft on June 27, 1997. Images of the asteroids Gaspra (middle) and Ida (right) were taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1991 and 1993, respectively. Image Credit:  NASA/JPL/NEAR and Galileo missions

These photos show the relative size of three asteroids that have been imaged at close range by spacecraft. Mathilde (37 x 29 miles) (left) was taken by the NEAR spacecraft on June 27, 1997. Images of the asteroids Gaspra (middle) and Ida (right) were taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1991 and 1993, respectively.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/NEAR and Galileo missions

AUSTIN, Texas (Planetary Resources PR) – A software application based on an algorithm created by a NASA challenge has the potential to increase the number of new asteroid discoveries by amateur astronomers.

Analysis of images taken of our solar system’s main belt asteroids between Mars and Jupiter using the algorithm showed a 15 percent increase in positive identification of new asteroids.

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Musk, Page, Bezos & Branson Lead List of Disruptive Innovators

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SpaceX’s Elon Musk, Google’s Larry Page, Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos and Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson has been named the most effective CEO’s in achieving disruptive innovation among established companies in a new survey.

The poll was conducted by Big Think, where important people ponder big things, and the Singularity University, which puts the exponent in  exponential technology.  The poll was apparently taken in January and involved an unidentified number of Singularity University program participants.

The four men, who are heavily invested in various space projects,  beat out such business luminaries as Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and Jack Ma of Alibaba.

Number of Billionaires Investing in Space Projects Grows

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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.

FORBES RANK NAME AGE
2015 NET WORTH (BILLIONS)
SOURCE(S) OF WEALTH
SPACE INVESTMENT(S)
 15 Jeff Bezos 51  $34.8 Amazon.com Blue Origin
16 Mark Zuckerberg 30
 $33.4 Facebook Global satellite network
19 Larry Page 41 $29.7  Google SpaceX, Planetary Resources, Planetary Ventures, Google Lunar X Prize, Skybox
20 Sergey Brin  41  $29.2 Google SpaceX, Planetary Ventures, Google Lunar X Prize, Skybox
43 Charles Ergen 62 $19.8 DISH Network DISH Network
51 Paul Allen 62  $17.5  Microsoft, investments Stratolaunch Systems, SETI, Mojave Aerospace Ventures (SpaceShipOne)
100 Elon Musk 43 $12 PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, SolarCity SpaceX
137 Eric Schmidt 59 $9.1 Google SpaceX, Google Lunar X Prize, Planetary Ventures, Skybox
330 Richard Branson
64 $4.8 Virgin Group Virgin Galactic, Planetary Resources, OneWeb
1006 Kavitark Ram Shriram 58 $1.9 Google, venture capital Planetary Resources
1105 H. Ross Perot, Jr. 56 $1.8  Computer services, real estate Planetary Resources
1324 Charles Simonyi  67 $1.4 Microsoft Planetary Resources
1415 Peter Sperling 55 $1.3 University of Phoenix Ecliptic 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 Parties at Davos

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A confidential source in Davos reports that Planetary Resources threw one helluva party the other night during the World Economic Forum. The source says it was the same event that Business Insider reports ended early in the morning after the booze and the patience of a neighbor and Swiss police ran out. The website doesn’t identify the company, but my source says it was definitely the space miners from Seattle.

Held in a private apartment up in the mountains, overlooking the town of Davos in the valley below, it raged until two in the morning — and only shut down because a squad of Swiss police insisted.

To fuel the festivity — and one more, planned for tonight — the party-throwers company had flown in bartenders from England.

At around 1:30 a.m., a neighbor — who happened to be the CEO of multinational insurance company — complained to the party’s hosts.

This complaint was ignored.

But then, at 2:00 a.m., one of the bartenders approached the host and said: Not only have we run out of the liquor we planned to serve tonight, we’ve also run out of all the booze we had set aside for tomorrow.

Fortune also has an entertaining account of an encounter with Planetary Resources President Chris Lewicki, apparently at the same party. You’ll see the discussion at the bar went fine until the reporter started asking some probing questions.
After I asked a few more questions about his company—like “is there really a lot of demand right now for gas stations and bottle water in outer space?”—Lewiski told me to stop being a critic. Every industry, he said, has to start somewhere. Yes. Dream big. This is Davos, after all.
Yeah, you get a lot of that in NewSpace.

Planetary Resources Does Davos

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Fortune Magazine’s Stephen Gandel is over in Davos, Switzerland this week, hobnobbing with the rich, famous and brilliant attendees who meet to contemplate solutions to the planet’s many problems at the World Economic Forum.

He has an entertaining piece about bumping into Planetary Resources’ President (and Chief Asteroid Miner) Chris Lewicki at a wine bar. Apparently, their discussion didn’t go much deeper than a description of the company’s plans to mine water and other materials from the Solar System’s orbiting piles of rock.

After I asked a few more questions about his company—like “is there really a lot of demand right now for gas stations and bottle water in outer space?”—Lewiski told me to stop being a critic. Every industry, he said, has to start somewhere. Yes. Dream big. This is Davos, after all.

That’s funny. And pretty impressive. Most start-ups lack the funds and connections to attend such an exclusive gathering. But, if you’re backed by multiple billionaires that include Eric Schmidt and Larry Page from Google, that’s not really a problem.

Antares Rocket Explodes, Destroys Cygnus Freighter

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Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket exploded shortly after liftoff from Wallops Island, Virginia. The explosion destroyed a Cygnus freighter carrying supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.

The explosion reportedly occurred about 6 seconds after launch. There was a massive explosion and then the vehicle fell back onto the launch pad. The Antares engines were throttled up to 108 percent when the explosion occurred.

The bottom of the Antares explodes right after liftoff.

The bottom of the Antares explodes right after liftoff.

Launch officials have confirmed there were no injuries in the explosion. All personnel are safe and accounted for at this time.

The cargo manifest includes 26 Planet Labs satellites that would be launched off the space station. Planetary Resources also had its first test satellite aboard Cygnus. Thee were also a number of student experiments on the ship. NASA has the full manifest.

A massive explosion occurred right after the Antares rocket hit the ground.

A massive fireball occurred right after the Antares rocket hit the ground.

This mission was Orbital Sciences’ third contracted Cygnus cargo delivery flight to the International Space Station under an 8-flight contract. Two previous contracted Cygnus missions and a demonstration flight had succeeded.

This was the fifth flight of the Antares rocket. Four previous flights had been success.

Antares uses Arojet-Rocketdyne AJ-26 engines on its first stage. These are refurbished NK-33 engines originally designed for the Soviet manned lunar program in the 1970’s. There have been problems with corrosion on the 40-year old engines; one engine exploded on its test stand in May.

The rocket’s first-stage structure is built in Ukraine. Antares second stage consists of a solid-fuel rocket supplied by ATK.

My deepest sympathies to the Orbital Sciences team and all those with payloads aboard the vehicle. It’s a bad day, but these things happen in this field. This is the nature of this business.

UPDATE: Orbital and NASA officials will have a press conference at 9 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. PDT).

Planetary Resources to Launch First Spacecraft on Monday

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Arkyd 100 spacecraft. (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Arkyd 100 spacecraft. (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources will launch its first satellite aboard the Cygnus spacecraft on Monday. Here is the company’s previous press release announcing the launch.

The A3 is the Arkyd 100’s technology demonstrator, and the mission will provide for early testing and serve to validate the spacecraft’s core technology and software in the development of the program.

Planetary Resources is under contract with NanoRacks, through its Space Act Agreement with NASA, to release the A3 from the International Space Station’s Kibo airlock.

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