Apr 26 2012

Did the New Space Age Begin This Week with Planetary Resources?

Published by at 3:39 pm under Wave Guide 6: Entrepreneurs

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.

Like the California Gold Rush ~150 years ago, a new asteroid “gold rush” may change the world.

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.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Did the New Space Age Begin This Week with Planetary Resources?”

  1. phillip kooperon 26 Apr 2012 at 9:44 pm

    I think you called it well ….

    looking forward to this decade with the commercialization of space. did you see Planetary Resources latest missive to deploy over a hundred small telescopes to form a hyper array capable of visualizing exoplanets?

    I was born just prior to NASA’s mercury astronaut age and recall getting the scholastic weekly reader in elementary school in 1966 showing the apollo moon lander. What is significant to me back then was how it inspired my future career interests. that and star trek. I hope this current wave of space commercialization is equally inspiring a new crop of young explorers to take us to the stars soon.

    NB: I got advanced degrees in engineering and did have the pleasure of working on a NASA research grant while pursuing my degree.

    Thanks for your comment Phillip. I had a similar experience with Scholastic Readers!

    Best regards,

  2. Anonymouson 13 May 2012 at 9:29 pm

    I’ve been following this blog for a few years … However I believe it suffers one basic problem, what I call “Apollo widow complex”, like most space and tech enthusiasts it assumes the 1960s space race and the Apollo Program are models to be followed and represented a golden age of technology and progress. …

    Dear Anonymous,

    Maybe you haven’t read this blog very much… :)

    You missed that the Maslow Window concept is not based on the Apollo program, but on all the Maslow Windows over the last 200+ years back to Lewis and Clark, which had many of the same features.

    What I suggest you do is actually take a look at the content on this website by starting here; Click: HERE.

    And then try a closer look at how twice-per-century JFK-style economic booms have been triggering pulses of great explorations and major macro-engineering projects for over 2 centuries. Click: HERE.

    All great enterprises involve many errors, and Planetary Resources — if it survives — will be no exception. In any case, it is an ebullient project that signals the approach of the next 1960s-style “golden age” of prosperity, exploration, and technology, by mid-decade.

    Best regards,

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