It's official, earthlings: The world's first asteroid-mining company has launched. Planetary Resources had its official coming out party today, the AP reports, with its co-founders laying out their plan to mine outer space for precious metal. The company, which is backed by such big-name investors as James Cameron and the Google Guys, says that in just 18 to 24 months it will start launching private space telescopes to identify asteroids rich in raw materials.
"Everything we hold of value on Earth—energy, minerals, metals, real estate, water—is literally available in near infinite quantities in space," said co-founder Peter Diamandis, who, CNET points out, also is CEO of the X Prize Foundation. Some experts doubt that mining near-earth asteroids can possibly be cost-effective, but co-founder Eric Anderson pointed out that skeptics said the same thing about space tourism, which he and Diamandis pioneered. "We're in this for decades," he said. "But it's not a charity. And we'll make money from the beginning."