Apr 26 2012
The world changed this week.
Planetary Resources (PR) finally announced their intent to create a “gold rush” to the asteroids, for both water and platinum group metals. The water will fuel an interplanetary highway and the precious metals will create prosperity on Earth.
Never before has a technologically sophisticated and well-capitalized private group publicly announced their intention to mine the riches of space!
It appears the world took a giant step, at least symbolically, toward the new international Space Age, and the long-anticipated, 1960s-style Maslow Window.
Regardless of their ultimate success or failure, no group in recent memory has provided a more world-class display of ebullience — an exceptionally positive view of the future — than PR’s leaders this week.
For example, co-founder Peter Diamandis exclaimed that they intend to create “abundance” (also the title of his new book) on Earth, while co-founder Eric Anderson indicated that this “seminal event…is fun!” and that their goals are “so audacious, we may fail.” Technology chief, Chris Lewicki concurred that the innovations required would be “bold, crazy!”
This is the language of ebullience that historically signals the rapid approach of a new golden age in technology, exploration, and prosperity.
For example, two centuries ago during their Maslow Window, not only Lewis and Clark but Thomas Jefferson himself was overwhelmed by the ebullient thrill of discovery and opened up the American northwest. Half a century later, during the mid-19th century Maslow Window, the California Gold Rush drew many ebullient people to the new frontier. Today’s proposal of an asteroid “gold rush” by PR displays an eerily similar historical rhythm and ebullient style with the Apollo Moon program of the 1960s.
Despite continuing economic challenges, early ebullience is evident around the world today — e.g., booming Antarctic tourism, architectural projects such as the Shanghai Tower, the Panama Canal Expansion Project, Spaceport America and the birth of the space tourism industry, the International Space Station (an “international marvel”), international plans for bases on the Moon., and most recently, the stunning deep ocean adventures of James Cameron, also a featured PR investor and team member.
However, the PR crew indicated clearly that initially there are no humans in this vision (except on the ground) and this is definitely not a JFK-like thrust featuring humans to the Moon or Mars. Indeed Lewicki specifically cited Failure is Not an Option — the famous book title by Apollo-era flight controller Gene Kranz — as an outmoded notion for PR because of redundancies provided by robotic convoys.
This is a totally unprecedented type of space program whose fundamental goal is to shower the Earth with precious metals … and eventually provide greater access to space.
It’s easy to attack the boldness of this group, and their presentation did (self-admittedly) have a sophisticated infomercial feel to it — i.e., they are looking for new investors and engineers.
However win or lose, Planetary Resources will stimulate a cascade of other visionary leaders, investors, and even governments to think and act seriously about near-term opportunities in space.
That’s how the new, international Space Age begins.