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James Cameron, Google Founder Back Space-Mining Venture

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BY EVAN THOMAS

ANCHOR NATHAN BYRNE

There's a new space venture about to get underway, and the backers are big ones. Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, X PRIZE chairman Peter Diamandis and James Cameron have something special planned.

MIT's Technology Review received a press release detailing a space venture to "help ensure humanity's prosperity." Planetary Resources, as it's called, will combine efforts in space exploration and natural resources to redefine the industries.

A space program must by definition aim high, but is this too high even for the likes of Google and James Cameron? PC Magazine says — if anyone can see this sort of undertaking through, it's them.

"...while the venture's somewhat lofty goals may invite some skepticism, the high-caliber nature of its backers indicates that this could be a very serious new foray into outer space."

The Verge says that foray is probably one thing in particular.

"Looking at the evidence, asteroid mining seems pretty likely at this point, especially since X Prize founder and perpetual optimist Peter Diamandis is at the head of the operation."

Mining is certainly high on Diamandis' mind. He told Forbes earlier this year there's huge potential outside Earth's gravity well.

"There's a mindset that people are used to, because we're planet-centric, to think about only the resources on Earth. But in fact the Earth is a crumb in a supermarket filled with resources."

There's another name on the list — Chris Lewicki. He was a Mars mission manager for NASA. Doug Messier writes on Parabolic Arc:

"If it's not mining, I don't know what else would fit that description. Diamandis has hinted in the past that he's looking at asteroid mining. And Lewicki's involvement certainly points to something related to surface operations on other worlds."

For the moment, Planetary Resources is playing things close to the vest — its website is nearly blank. But more information may be coming, and soon. There's a press conference scheduled for Tuesday, at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

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