More details emerged today about Planetary Resources, and the Bellevue-based startup’s plans are sounding more and more like something out of a science fiction novel.

One idea the company is considering: Bringing an asteroid into orbit near Earth to allow robots to mine it for precious metals, according to a New York Times article today that quotes Eric Anderson, one of the company’s co-founders.

Anderson calls near-Earth asteroids “the stepping stones to the rest of the solar system.”

The company plans to start by launching a telescope into space to find nearby asteroids, according to the Times article, which notes that large-scale mining could still be decades away.

As crazy as the whole thing sounds, it’s hard to dismiss out of hand, given the people behind it.

The company’s president and chief engineer is Chris Lewicki, the former flight director for NASA’s Mars Rover missions. Anderson is  the co-founder of space tourism startup Space Adventures. Also involved with the company is Peter Diamandis, best known as the creator of the X Prize Foundation.

If that wasn’t enough, the startup is backed by investors and advisers including Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, along with filmmaker James Cameron.

According to the NYT piece, the company has about 25 engineers and is already making money through development contracts for the technologies involved in the project.

Planetary Resources will officially unveil its plans Tuesday at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, and GeekWire will be there. Check back for coverage in the morning.

An invite for the event said the company “will overlay two critical sectors — space exploration and natural resources — to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP.”

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  • AstroKev

    It’s great to see new innovation and private investment in these ideas.  They may seem crazy now but they won’t in the future.  People used to talk about how the telephone wouldn’t ever work since nobody would want to talk to disembodied voices…

    With all the aerospace companies in the area, it’s also great there is so much involvement from folks in the Northwest in both Planetary Resources and others like Moon Express.  They’re literally out of this world!

  • Bill

    Why not extract the water off of it in orbit for gas, then drop it in a desert?
    No it won’t burn up, not enough velocity by a long shot. You could have a world
    wide bidding war for were to drop it.

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