Planetary Resources – Space mining is here!

Space Miners!

How many cool Science Fiction books, movies and games have something to do with Space Mining? Answer: tons, and they are nearly all genius.

So you can imagine my excitement when it was unofficially announced that the cool sounding ‘Planetary Resources’ is about to go into space to start mining. In case you think it is a pipe dream, some of the people involved so far are: Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt,  Ross Perot Jr, Charles Simonyi (ex-Microsoft), and director James Cameron. Plus lots more but surely that is enough. The company is due to announce its formation today. In Seattle for some reason.

People may ask why go to an asteroid and mine it when we have plenty of rocks lying around down here? (People are stupid.) Well, asteroids are chock full of goodies. Gold, diamonds, cobalt, titanium, Helium 3, frankincense, myrrh, etc. (Last two not so much though.) In fact all the stuff on Earth originally came from asteroids. A small 1km asteroid on average holds the equivalent amount of iron as mined in several years on Earth. There are others out there that can provide enough iron to last millions of years. Other asteroids have so much gold we could all be wandering around in gold hats and covered in bling 20 years from now.

This all sounds cool, but I’m not quite sure about the economics. When the British brought tea back from China, we were the only ones at first and Britain made shit loads of cash from other Europeans. If everyone is space mining the only result I can see is that the value of gold, iron and so on will just go down in value.  With the tea, money came from outside Britain. If we space mine it is only going to Earth which is a pretty closed market. I’m probably missing something obvious or am stupidly thinking long term. Like with tea, the first guys to do it will be loaded. By the time we’re all wearing gold hats the market won’t be quite so lucrative.

Still, who cares? The reason why I have mentioned this on my superb scifi site is the sheer amount of classic science fiction that has come from space mining.

The brilliant original Alien movie concerns a group of space trucker types who haul asteroid mining debris for a living. Until they come across an alien and start to get eaten.

In the highly underrated Outland Sean Connery is a policeman on a mining colony and discovers the miners are all on drugs. Then they start going mental and assassins are sent to kill him.

In the games Dead Space and  Dead Space 2 some miners discover something evil that unleashes limb chopping hell on the universe.

In the hilarious TV show the ship Red Dwarf is a deep space mining vessel. Until a nuclear explosion kills (nearly) everyone.

In the awesome novel Leviathan Wakes a load of ‘Belter’s’ happily mine asteroids. Until war and weird shit starts killing them off.

I could go on but that’s enough. As you can see from the above examples, space mining is going to be great! I’m not being sarcastic either, the stories above are massively exciting. Bring on the adventure!

Here is the preliminary sketch of how it will look:

What space mining will look like.


4 thoughts on “Planetary Resources – Space mining is here!

  1. Martin Cozens

    Another great blog, Mr.Ward. Of course don’t forget the link between mining and aliens in Total Recall. And the unlikely outer-space mining crew of Armegeddon that hitch the ride on the asteroid…”Don’t wanna close my eyes, Don’t wanna fall asleep, Caus I’d miss you babe”…altogether now… “and i don’t wanna miss a thiiiing!”

    1. ward Post author

      I thought of loads more mining related scifi books/films after writing this. I hadn’t forgotten Armageddon but couldn’t bring myself to write about it. Moon is a great film too.

  2. Tim Houghton

    Personally I think the best ‘mining’ narrative (I guess it’s actually more like scavenging, but pretty similar) is from Gateway. I’m guessing you’ve read it, but if not you absolutely must.

    1. ward Post author

      Yes I’ve read it and loved it. Great book! You’re right though, they were scavenging for alien artifacts. The Gateway itself felt like a mining colony though. It was a hollowed out asteroid or something as far as I can remember. I read it ages ago but still remember the ending. As I said to Martin, I should probably have included Moon with Sam Rockwell. Great movie.


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