Planetary Resources

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Planetary Resources, Inc.
Private
Industry Asteroid mining
Founded November 2010 (2010-11) as Arkyd Astronautics[1]
Founder Peter H. Diamandis
Eric C. Anderson
Headquarters Redmond, Washington, U.S.
Number of employees
60[2](2016)
Website planetaryresources.com

Planetary Resources, Inc., formerly known as Arkyd Astronautics, is an American company that was formed in November 2010,[1] and reorganized and renamed in 2012. Their stated goal is to "expand Earth's natural resource base"[3] by developing and deploying the technologies for asteroid mining.

Although the long-term goal of the company is to mine asteroids, its initial plans call for developing a market for small (30–50 kg) cost-reduced space telescopes for both Earth observation and astronomy. These spacecraft would employ a laser-optical system for ground communications,[citation needed] reducing payload bulk and mass compared to conventional RF antennas.[not verified in body] The deployment of such orbital telescopes is envisioned as the first step forward in the company's asteroid mining ambitions. The same telescope satellite capabilities that Planetary Resources hopes to sell to customers can be used to survey and intensively examine near-Earth asteroids.

A test satellite named Arkyd 3 Reflight (A3R) was launched and successfully transported to Earth orbit on 17 April 2015 and was deployed from the International Space Station via the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer on July 16, 2015.[4][5] The "Reflight" descriptor was used because Planetary's first satellite, Arkyd 3, was destroyed on October 28, 2014 after an Antares resupply rocket exploded seconds after launch.[6]

History[edit]

Arkyd Astronautics was founded in November 2010, with Peter Diamandis as co-chairman and director, and president and chief engineer Chris Lewicki.[1] According to co-founder Eric Andersen, the name "Arkyd Astronautics" was deliberately ambiguous, to help keep the company's asteroid-mining agenda secret.[7]

The company gained media attention in April 2012 with the announcement of a press conference, scheduled for April 24, 2012.[8] The initial press release provided limited information; as of April 20, 2012, only a list of major investors and advisors was known.[9] Included in the list were a number of people notable for their entrepreneurship and interest in space, exploration, and research. Some also had previous involvement in space research. It was speculated that Planetary Resources was "looking for ways to extract raw materials from non-Earth sources," as the means by which it would (as stated in the press release) "add trillions of dollars to the global GDP."[9] From the outset, the dominant assumption was that the company intended to develop asteroid mining operations,[3][9][10][11] with one anonymous source reportedly verifying that claim in advance of the April 24 event.[12] Arkyd Astronautics became a wholly owned subsidiary of Planetary Resources.[7]

In July 2012, Planetary Resources announced an agreement with Virgin Galactic to enable multiple launch opportunities for its series of spacecraft on LauncherOne starting with the Arkyd-100 series of space telescopes.[13][14][15]

By January 2013, Planetary Resources had completed a ground test prototype of the Arkyd-100 and released a limited set of details publicly.[16]

In April 2013, Planetary Resources announced that Bechtel Corporation has joined Planetary Resources group of investors and will be a collaborative partner in helping Planetary Resources achieve its long-term mission of mining asteroids.[17]

In May 2013, Planetary Resources announced the launch of Kickstarter funding for the ARKYD-100. Their goal was surpassed on 19 June 2013.[18]

In April 2013, the company announced that they planned on launching a CubeSat called "Arkyd-3" (A3) in early 2014, as a testbed manifestation for the Arkyd-100 spacecraft. The purpose of the flight is to test technologies for the first Arkyd-100 spacecraft.[19] In the event, the first A3 was launched in fall 2014 but was destroyed in a launch accident; a second A3 spacecraft—designated A3R—was launched in April 2015 and deployed into orbit in July 2015.[20]

In June 2013, Planetary Resources took an undisclosed investment from 3D Systems and intends to make use of its 3D printing technology to manufacture components of the Arkyd spacecraft that Planetary Resources intends to use for finding near-Earth asteroids.[18][21] By mid-2016, the company had grown to 60 employees, but still has no firm date for the launch of its first Arkyd satellite. The "first prospective mission is planned to take place in a couple of years."[2]

Plans[edit]

Planetary Resources aims to develop a robotic asteroid mining industry.[22][23] To achieve this, the company is operating on the basis of a long-term strategic plan.

Unveiling the Planetary Resources 3D-Printed Satellite in February 2014 (Arkyd-300[24] satellite bus configuration). The torus holds the propellant and provides the structure for the satellite. From left: Peter Diamandis, Chris Lewicki, and Steve Jurvetson.

The first stage will be a survey and analysis, using purpose-built satellites in Earth orbit, to locate the best potential targets among near-Earth asteroids. Several small space telescopes, with various sensing capabilities, are to be launched for this purpose.[22] The company website asserts that their space telescopes will be made available for hire, for private uses. The company also intends to produce satellites for sale. Their first model of space telescope, the Arkyd-100, has been introduced.[25]

Later stages of the strategic plan envision sending survey probes to selected asteroids in order to map, including deep-scanning, and to conduct sample-and-analysis and/or sample-and-return missions. The company has stated that it could take a decade to finish identifying the best candidates for commercial mining.[8]

Ultimately, their intent is to establish fully automated/robotic asteroid-based mining and processing operations, and the capability to transport the resulting products wherever desired. In addition to the extraction of industrial and precious metals for space-based and terrestrial use, the project envisions producing water for an orbital propellant depot.[26][27][28]

Arkyd-3 Flight test system[edit]

Planetary Resources packaged a number of the non-optical satellite technologies of the Arkyd-100 —essentially the entire base of the Arkyd-100 satellite model revealed in January 2013,[16] but without the space telescope— into a cost-effective format for early in-space flight testing on a nanosatellite named the Arkyd 3, or A3. The Arkyd-3 testbed satellite was packaged in a 3U CubeSat form-factor of 10×10×30 centimetres (0.33×0.33×0.98 ft). The first attempt to validate and mature the technology[29][30][31][32] met a setback on 28 October 2014, when the first Arkyd-3 test satellite was destroyed during launch in the explosion of the Antares rocket carrying it to the International Space Station (ISS).[33]

A second attempt to launch an Arkyd-3 spacecraft—designated A3R, or Arkyd-3 Reflight— took place on April 14, 2015 with a flight of SpaceX CRS-6 to the ISS from where it was planned to be deployed later.[34] In the event, after spending several months attached to the ISS, A3R was deployed on orbit on 16 July 2015 to begin flight testing. The test flight is expected to have an approximately 90-day duration.[20][35] As of January 2016, the company has been completely silent on the progress of any on-orbit testing post deployment from the ISS.[36]

The satellite subsystems being tested on A3R include the avionics, attitude determination and control system (both sensors and actuators), and integrated propulsion system that will enable proximity operations for the Arkyd line of prospectors in the future.[37][38] A3R reentered the atmosphere on 23 December 2015.[36]

Arkyd-6 Flight test system[edit]

A second flight test unit for Planetary Resources—twice the size of A3R with a 6U form factor—is the Arkyd-6 (A6). It is slated to test attitude control, power, and communication systems as well as a photo-display-and-retransmission system. As of July 2015, A6 was planned to launch in late 2015 along with a number of other cubesats.[20][39] This date slipped to an April 2016 launch.[40][needs update]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c John Cook (July 8, 2011). "NASA vet and X Prize creator at the helm of secretive space robot startup Arkyd". Geekwire. Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  2. ^ a b Levine, Alaina G. (2016-07-11). "Looking to space as an asteroid miner". Science. AAAS. Retrieved 2016-07-13. Planetary Resources—which last year deployed a demonstration vehicle into low-Earth orbit to test core avionics, navigation, and computing systems—is soon to deploy another vehicle to test remote sensing capacities. A first prospective mission is planned to take place in a couple of years. 
  3. ^ a b Christopher Mims (2012-04-18). "Are Ross Perot Jr. and Google's Founders Launching a New Asteroid Mining Operation?". Technology Review. 
  4. ^ http://www.planetaryresources.com/2015/07/planetary-resources-first-spacecraft-deployed/
  5. ^ http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1718.html
  6. ^ Plait, Phil (28 October 2014). "BREAKING: Antares Rocket Explodes On Takeoff". Slate. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Asteroid Mining Venture To Start with Small, Cheap Space Telescopes". SpaceNews.com. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Amir Efrati (24 April 2012). "Start-Up Outlines Asteroid-Mining Strategy". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  9. ^ a b c Andew Pulver (20 April 2012). "James Cameron backs space explorers Planetary Resources". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  10. ^ Adi Robertson (April 18, 2012). "Mystery company backed by James Cameron and Google executives may be an asteroid mining project". The Verge. Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  11. ^ Brian Caulfield (April 20, 2012). "Planetary Resources Co-Founder Aims To Create Space 'Gold Rush'". Forbes. Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  12. ^ Nate C. Hindman (April 20, 2012). "Planetary Resources, New Space Startup, To Mine Asteroids And Sell Materials On Earth". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  13. ^ Bishop, Todd (2013-07-11). "Asteroid miners on board with Virgin Galactic's LauncherOne". Geekwire. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  14. ^ Schmidt, Klaus (2013-07-12). "Planetary Resources, Inc. Announces Agreement with Virgin Galactic for Payload Services". spacefellowship. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  15. ^ Knapp, Alex (2013-07-11). "Asteroid Mining Startup Planetary Resources Teams With Virgin Galactic". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  16. ^ a b Heater, Bryan (2013-01-21). "Planetary Resources shows off Arkyd-100 prototype, gives a tour of its workspace". Engadget. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  17. ^ Boyle, Alan (2013-04-17). "Big-time players are getting serious about asteroid perils and profits". NBC. Retrieved 2013-04-17. 
  18. ^ a b Romano, Benjamin (2013-06-26). "Planetary Resources Inks 3D Systems Deal, Plans Test Launch From ISS". Xonomy. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  19. ^ Mike Wall (2013-04-24). "Private Asteroid-Mining Project Launching Tiny Satellites in 2014". Space.com. Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  20. ^ a b c Charlton, Jonathan (2015-07-17). "Asteroid-mining Company's 1st Spacecraft Deploys". Space News. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  21. ^ Chris Velasco (2013-06-26). "3D Systems Invests In Asteroid Miners Planetary Resources, Opens Up New Seed-Stage Venture Arm". Techcrunch. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  22. ^ a b Adam Mann (April 23, 2012). "Tech Billionaires Plan Audacious Mission to Mine Asteroids". Wired News. Retrieved 2012-04-24. 
  23. ^ Matthew Sparkes (2012-04-24). "Planetary Resources unveils cosmic plan 'to boldly go' and mine asteroids for gold and platinum". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-04-24. 
  24. ^ Diamandis, Peter (2014-06-26). "Update from Planetary Resources". Peter H. Diamandis channel. Planetary Resources. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  25. ^ Boyle, Alan (2012-06-20). "Asteroid-hunting venture wants you ... to suggest crowdfunding projects". msnbc. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  26. ^ "Planetary Resources believes asteroid mining has come of age". thespacereview.com. April 30, 2012. 
  27. ^ "http://www.parabolicarc.com/2012/04/19/new-study-says-asteroid-retrieval-and-mining-feasible-with-existing-and-near-term-technologies/". parabolicarc.com. April 19, 2012.  External link in |title= (help)
  28. ^ John Brophy; Fred Culick; Louis Friedman & el al. (12 April 2012). "Asteroid Retrieval Feasibility Study" (PDF). Keck Institute for Space Studies, California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 
  29. ^ Wilhelm, Steve (2014-10-16). "First step toward asteroid mining: Planetary Resources set to launch test satellite". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved 2014-10-19. 
  30. ^ Asteroid-Mining Company to Deploy 1st Satellite This Summer. Space.com, Mike Wall.
  31. ^ Planetary Resources Inks 3D Systems Deal, Plans Test Launch from ISS. Benjamin Romano, Xconomy. 26 June 2013
  32. ^ http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2014/10/orbitals-antares-loft-fourth-cygnus-iss/
  33. ^ Wall, Mike (28 October 2014). "Asteroid-Mining Tech Among Casualties of Antares Rocket Explosion". Space.com. Retrieved 2015-05-22. 
  34. ^ "ARKYD: A Space Telescope for Everyone". Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  35. ^ Planetary Resources’ First Spacecraft Successfully Deployed, Testing Asteroid Prospecting Technology on Orbit, accessed 17 July 2015.
  36. ^ a b What Happened to Planetary Resources’ Real Satellite?, Parabolic Arc, 8 January 2016, accessed 9 January 2016.
  37. ^ Lewicki, Chris; Chris Voorhees; Spencer Anunsen (2013-04-24). "Planetary Resources One-year Update". Planetary Resources. Retrieved 2013-05-02. 
  38. ^ Marks, Paul (2014-10-24). "Asteroid miners to launch first private space telescope". New Scientist. Retrieved 2014-10-31. 
  39. ^ "BlackSky Global 1, 2, 3, 4 / BlackSky Pathfinder 1, 2". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 14 January 2016. 
  40. ^ "UNITED STATES COMMERCIAL ELV LAUNCH MANIFEST (13 Jan 2016)". Steven Pietrobon. Retrieved 14 January 2016. 

External links[edit]

  • Chris Lewicki interviewed on the TV show Triangulation on the TWiT.tv network
  • SEDS Space Talks featuring Chris Voorhees, VP of Spacecraft Development, Planetary Resources. 58 minutes, April 3, 2014. Includes updated spacecraft graphics and mission dates ("2014—A3; 2015—A100; 2016 and beyond: A200/A300") at 29:55.