What does Obama have in common with former presidential candidate Ross Perot, film director James Cameron and Google's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt?
Each one supports a highly costly effort to land spacecraft on asteroids that has experts conflicted about the possibilities of success and whether the ultimate benefits outweigh the expense.
Cameron, Page, Schmidt and Perot are behind a private company, Planetary Resources, that is planning not only to land on an asteroid but mine it for resources.
The company seeks to launch the first in a series of space telescopes into low-Earth orbit in an attempt to find asteroids to potentially mine for profit. Once an asteroid is deemed worthy, the plan is to dispatch a robotic probe to assess the asteroid’s precious metal content and then send yet-to-be-developed robots to mine the asteroid.
The dreamy plan may be aided by Obama’s new directives to NASA. The president has reorganized the country’s space agency with the goal of landing on an asteroid.
In April 2010, Obama outlined NASA’s new path.
“By 2025, we expect new spacecraft designed for long journeys to allow us to begin the first-ever crewed missions beyond the moon into deep space,” he said. “We’ll start by sending astronauts to an asteroid for the first time in history.”
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