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Asteroid mining: Planetary Resources unveils plan with support of James Cameron, Larry Page (Video)


A mosaic image shows the asteroid Eros at its north pole, taken by the robotic NEAR Shoemaker space probe in February, 2000 shortly after the spacecraft's insertion into orbit.

A Washington State start-up including former NASA officials today unveiled plans to send robots into space to mine Near-Earth Asteroids, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In a statement timed to coincide with an event at the Seattle Museum of Flight, Plantary Resources said its initiative aimed to collect raw materials such as water and precious metals.

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The company has received financial backing from Google Chairman Larry Page and consulting form filmmaker James Cameron, whose 2009 film Avatar depicted mining on another planet.

ABC News produced this video report:

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Collecting water from asteroids could make space travel more economical, the company said. “Of the approximately 9,000 known [Near-Earth Asteroids], there are more than 1,500 that are energetically as easy as the Moon,” the company said.

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According to The Journal, the initiative has been met with skepticism among experts.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Richard Binzel, an expert on asteroids, told the newspaper that, while he expects asteroids will eventually be used as tools in space travel, this project “may be many decades ahead of its time."

"But you have to start somewhere,” he said.