Asteroid Mining: Planetary Resources, Inc. Seeks to Expand Earth's Natural Resource Base
Planetary Resources, Inc., formerly known as Arkyd Astronautics, is an American company that was formed in November 2010, and reorganized and renamed in 2012. Their stated goal is to "expand Earth's natural resource base" by developing and deploying the technologies for asteroid mining.
Although the long-term goal of the company is to mine asteroids, its initial plans call for developing a market for small (30–50 kg) cost-reducedspace telescopes for both Earth observation and astronomy. These spacecraft would employ a laser-optical system for ground communications, reducing payload bulk and mass compared to conventional RF antennas. The deployment of such orbital telescopes is envisioned as the first step forward in the company's asteroid mining ambitions. The same telescope satellite capabilities that Planetary Resources hopes to sell to customers can be used to survey and intensively examine near-Earth asteroids.
A test satellite named Arkyd 3 Reflight (A3R) was launched and successfully transported to Earth orbit on 17 April 2015 and was deployed from the International Space Station via the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer on July 16, 2015. The "Reflight" descriptor was used because Planetary's first satellite, Arkyd 3, was destroyed on October 28, 2014 after an Antares resupply rocket exploded seconds after launch.