Bill Gates, Google billionaires, James Cameron and Ross Perot Jr. have decided it is worth it to bet big on a future in space mining…
To become the wealthiest company in the world, Planetary Resources [would] need only capture one [small metal bearing asteroid]. Less than that, in fact.
Apple, currently the world’s most valuable company, has a market cap of $500 billion. To match that in resources, let alone market cap, Planetary Resources need only mine one-fortieth of 3554 Amun [which has an estimated $20trillion in platinum, nickel, iron, and cobalt].
Of course, there’s a catch. You couldn’t offload all those metals on the world market at once, for fear of crashing their prices. But the company would still own that much in equity, which would allow them to borrow against it. They would be that wealthy, to all intents and purposes. That’s just how [global, and soon extraplanetary, financial] capitalism works.
Still, for all this wealth, platinum and gold may not be the most important thing the asteroid miners are hunting. The water on some ice-bound asteroids could count for more in the long run. Not only does it make the existence of life in space that much easier, but it can also be broken down into the perfect rocket fuels: hydrogen and oxygen.