Google In Space (GOOG)

Posted by · April 23, 2012 3:15 pm

James Cameron being interviewed about his film...Late last week, word broke that the folks at Google are teaming up with movie director extraordinaire James Cameron. No, it’s not a not another Avatar movie. However, the group’s objective is not unlike the one espoused by the earthlings who occupied Pandora.

According to a press release uncovered by MIT’s Technology Review, the new venture—known as Planetary Resources, Inc.—is expected to “overlay two critical sectors—space exploration and natural resources—to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP.” If that doesn’t seem quite promising enough, Planetary Resources, under the careful direction of the Page-Schmidt-Cameron trifecta, will also “help ensure humanity’s prosperity.”

More specifically, the company will focus on mining asteroids. Known for containing considerable amounts of platinum and iron, as well as fuel ingredients, asteroids could prove vital to the continued supply of raw materials for us earth-dwellers. Given the economic and geopolitical concerns over the reported shortage of rare earth minerals (isn’t that what rare means?), being able to tap these extraterrestrial bodies for additional supply is highly appealing, especially to investors.

This, of course, promises to bring to light the current absence of private ownership rights outside our atmosphere, complete with the familiar legal and physical quarreling that tends to complement such affairs.

Although more specific details won’t be available until the formal unveiling of the project—currently scheduled for this Tuesday (10:30am PDT)—reports show that the three are joined by a group of well-connected, wealthy individuals. In fact, the co-founders of Planetary Resources are former NASA Mars Mission Manager Erik Anderson and commercial space entrepreneur Peter Diamandis. Former Microsoft executive Charles Simonyi, Google director K. Ram Shriram, and billionaire heir Ross Perot, Jr. are also providing funding for the project.

What are your thoughts on space mining, particularly the Planetary Resources project? Is it worth the potentially massive boost in global GDP to open up the cosmos to industrial ventures?

For more on Planetary Resources . . .