The Planetary Resources Announcement for Asteroid Mining
In response to the Planetary Resources, Inc., announcement of their plans to mine near Earth asteroids, PERMANENT's analysis and position is as follows.
Their public announcement should start a new space race.
Make no mistake about it, the Russians and Chinese and other nationalistic political leaders and world space program personnel will be analyzing and talking seriously about this. Government related people tend to err on the side of caution, which usually means developing their own plans. After all, it is paranoia and uncertainty about competing powers which drives a lot of military spending, "just in case", by those responsible for their own country's position, who don't want to risk all that entails with being negligent. Space resources is a potentially very powerful new development, and they've now been given notice.
On the private sector side, the credibility of the investors, businessmen, and technical personnel will further take away "the giggle factor" while adding credibility to asteroid mining, which will draw the attention of a lot of wealthy and powerful private sector people in this world. It will capture the imagination of many other billionaires, and countless millionaires. After all, for a fraction of the cost of an island off Dubai, or some other real estate or industrial or mass media project on Earth, they can invest in space real estate and get to the real elite leadership forefront of society.
The Planetary Resources people were asked why they announced today. After all, they have kept this a secret since 2009. Why now?
Their stated answer was recruiting the best engineers in the world. They said the timing was also because they had completed their fundraising stage.
Yet, they said that they want to keep a small and dynamic team, so there are not nearly enough positions for all the people who will apply. They have approximately 24 engineers today, and seemed to not want to grow a lot more, in order to control costs as well as company culture, focusing on the most knowledgeable and productive individuals.
Furthermore, they could systematically recruit people who have already worked on space probes by simply researching who's who in those previous projects, and veteran space people would find you about them and visit their website without such a high profile announcement, so a buckshot high profile public announcement for recruiting seem a little bit puzzling.
They have expressed interest in reaching out to people outside of the space community, such as people in the Earth mining business.
However, there should be other motivations for all the professional public relations videos which they have so carefully prepared, which goes way beyond recruitment. You don't need much to recruit space specialists to come to Seattle, and there are already a lot of professionals in the Earth mining and other industries who are interested in space resources, more than can be handled.
A bigger motivation would be creating a market for their products and services, and reaching out to that market, a new space economy. It is notable that they repeatedly highlighted that they are creating a new market worth billions to trillions of dollars.
There needs to be some advance notice in order to generate this market in advance of their products and services. A market of this nature will take some time to take root, both psychologically and in the development of plans.
One of the press asked whether they will be selling their data. Well, that's a small start for some early cash flow. Other markets they mentioned are platinum group metals for Earth, fuel propellants, and water and supplies to space stations. (There are actually countless potential products and services, but these are the simplest and most basic needs in high demand and value now.)
They said that they completed their fund-raising, which was probably very targeted since they kept this a secret. They apparently are not looking for anybody else to buy private stock in this particular company, Planetary Resources, Inc.
They may also be trying to brand as a first high profile venture.
There appeared to be considerable pride and excitement motivating this announcement.
For whatever reasons, they have surely stirred up potential competition and fired the gun to start the space race.
During the announcement, they made clear that this is all robotic, not human. When somebody asked whether there were any planned human missions, nobody mentioned that bringing back all this water, metal, and various other volatiles and materials would be crucial to building space condos and other real estate in near Earth space on a large scale economically. Send the robots to asteroids, keep the humans close to Earth. I thought they missed an exciting announcement there ... unless they had decided to keep that a secret, e.g., the real estate angle.
As they've kept this company a secret for 3 years, it does raise the question of how many others have kept things secret likewise. This announcement would remove a lot of the need for others to keep asteroid ventures secret, since others won't be a first anymore, and Planetary Resources has jumped the gun to start a new space race. There will be pressure for other space professionals and powers to respond by showing that they aren't clueless and are doing their jobs in a competitive way.
There was an expression of American nationalism during the news conference. That can have a variety of reactions around the world ... which overall is good! This should spur on investment in competitors.
Peter Diamandis has done a great job piecing this one together. After roughly 20+ years of perseverance and experience (I think I first met him about 25 years ago as a young space resources promoter), Peter has finally put together a sufficiently funded space resources team. There are few people in this world who have impressed me as much as Peter Diamandis, and he deserves to go down in history as the prime mover in Planetary Resources and firing the gun to start the space race on extraterrestrial real estate. Our species owes a lot to this individual, Peter Diamandis.
Some people will ask why they chose asteroids instead of the lunar poles, a popular debate. It is very fortunate that they have chosen asteroids because the lunar poles are already getting a whole lot of attention. Also, it would have been less interesting to the world if they were going back to the Moon. We should diversify in space resources between the asteroids and the Moon.
So, what about PERMANENT?
Obviously, this will stir up a whole lot of interest in PERMANENT. However, what is PERMANENT's position and plans?
As Director, I am more interested in further developing that space race! Likewise, to respond to messages to date from various people, I am NOT interested in applying for a job at Planetary Resources. I'm not concerned with my own personal benefits, I am most concerned about making sure that space resources are developed, and don't want us to rely 100% on Planetary Resources. Indeed, we need a space race and some healthy competition to speed up space resources utilization, if humans are to get off the planet before biotechnology or nanotechnology human extinction threats mature (another section on this website), as covered in my other website www.GAINextinction.com .
Personally, I am most interested in contributing to progress by doing what nobody else is doing and which needs to be done. Right now, that means consulting to one or more competitors.
PERMANENT is more than 25 years old. A whole lot of knowledge has been gained in those 25+ years, which can be applied to helping startups around the world.
This is why I chose to work in the US space program soon after graduating from the university, in advanced planning in Washington, D.C. This is why I learned the Russian language. This is why I sought experience living and working in Asia starting in 1994. This is why I have been reading technical reports and building up a library on space resources for 30 years, something you cannot condense into a short time. This is why I have been getting to know who is who for 30 years. This is why I chose to run my own businesses as CEO. There is no substitute for experience.
If you need a consultant, here I am.
If you want to be a consultant, too, with PERMANENT, then send us your CV and information. Engineers, artists, programmers, public relations people, lawyers, ... The space economy needs all kinds of people. Let's get started now. If you are already a space resources professional, then don't be late and miss opportunities. If you are a newcomer, it will take some time to get up to speed enough to compete as a good consultant or employee for some space entity.
For a private or public sector venture leader, it will take time to get up to speed as a viable competitor. However, this is the future of our lives, so better to start sooner than later, to get in more at the ground level.
PERMANENT has always been about bringing newcomers up to speed, and integrating them into the community. This remains the PERMANENT mission.