Fortune

SPACE MINING COMES DOWN TO EARTH

No other industry is as high-risk, high-reward as asteroid excavation.
PROBING THE ABYSS A rendering of Planetary Resources’ satellites scanning an asteroid for water. Finding it in space will be essential for deep-space travel, as water’s components—hydrogen and oxygen—can be used for fuel.

MINING ASTEROIDS for either the minerals they contain or the water they hold isn’t some outlandish fantasy. In an interview three years ago, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said that Earth’s first trillionaire would be “the person who exploits the natural resources on asteroids.”

A number of entrepreneurs are taking their shot. The splashiest space-mining startup, Planetary Resources, was founded in 2012 and boasts investors including movie director James Cameron and Google cofounder Larry Page.

At the

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