Can you imagine packing your belongings and hopping on a spaceship to go live on another planet for the rest of your life?
Eric Anderson, co-founder of Bellevue-based asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, certainly can.
Anderson gave a great talk at this week’s Hacker News Meetup, a monthly get-together of geeks who like reading Hacker News. The spaceflight and tech entrepreneur spoke about his company, which has plans to launch robotic spacecraft to mine resource-rich asteroids.
He also believes we’ll be sending people to space permanently within a few decades.
“This migration of humans leaving the earth is happening this century,” he said. “If we do our job right at Planetary Resources, and Elon [Musk] does his job right at SpaceX and Richard Branson does his job right at Virgin Galactic, we’re going to be doing this in the next 30 years.”
“That’s a big statement,” he added. “It doesn’t mean that there will be a billion people living on Mars in 100 years. It’s going to take time. The colony on Mars will start with a few thousand people, then a few million. But it will be permanent. And from Mars, there are lots of other interesting places to go like the Moon or the asteroids themselves if we build structures inside them that can create artificial gravity.”
Pretty cool, right?
Anderson went on to talk more about how these asteroids contain trillions of dollars of materials that can be back brought to Earth. He said mining for the resources is necessary for driving human progress.
“We live on a fixed planet, there’s a fixed amount of resources — we need to expand the resource base, period,” he said. “It’s just something we have to do.”
Anderson also said these asteroids are actually in a good location strategically relative to the Earth and the energy it takes to reach them. Nearly one in five of them in space are closer than the Moon.
There is also an abdunance of them out there. In 1995, only one near-earth asteroid was known. Now, there are 594,705 known asteroids.
“It’s like fish in the ocean,” he said.
The Planetary team is made up of super-talented people who have led Mars Rover missions and started new industries. There are also several big-names that are backing Planetary, from James Cameron to Larry Page to Ross Perot Jr.
“These people believe that space access is critically dependent upon the resources in the asteroids, as do we,” Anderson said.
Anderson knows that many are skeptical when they first hear about Planetary’s mission. But he says that out of the companies he’s raised money for, Planetary was “by far the easiest.”
“This whole thing is technically really hard, but there’s something about the way it turns people,” he said. “They totally get it.”
Along with his co-founder Peter Diamandis, Anderson gave a similar presentation earlier this year. You can watch it above.
Previously on GeekWire: Planetary Resources shows ‘daringly small’ asteroid-hunting spacecraft