James Cameron's Trillion-Dollar Question

Illustration by 731; Photograph by NASA/JPL-Caltech/JAXA/ESA

Today an all-star cast of adventure capitalists and space entrepreneurs—James Cameron, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, Charles Simonyi, Peter Diamandis (creator of the X Prize), and others—announced the creation of Planetary Resources, an asteroid-mining company. (The announcement will be live streamed Tuesday off the company’s website at 1:30 p.m. ET.) In theory, asteroid mining is an enormously lucrative endeavor: a single small asteroid has been estimated to contain trillions of dollars in gold, platinum, iron, zinc, aluminum, and other minerals. The first step, its founders say, will be to launch a telescope into space to search for asteroids suitable for mining, something they claim they’ll do within two years.

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