Mining asteroids?

Handful of nation’s financial elite invest in space mining

A group among the wealthiest in the country is investing in the business of space mining—namely, harvesting asteroids for scarce minerals, such as platinum and gold.

Director and ocean explorer James Cameron, billionaire Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, along with Ross Perot, Jr. and others have invested about $50 billion in start-up company Planetary Resources, Inc., according to TIME. The company has employed 25 engineers to oversee three generations of space missions—the first to locate mineral-rich asteroids in the belt between Mars and Jupiter, the second to take samples and a third to harvest the minerals.

While transporting a massive payload into Earth’s orbit would be relatively easy in the gravity-free vacuum of space, the biggest logistical hurdle might prove to be re-entering the planet’s atmosphere at 25,000 miles per hour.