The first Planetary Resource Arkyd space telescope should be launched within 21 months.
Planetary Resources wants to launch five telescopes into orbit within the next two years to prospect for asteroids. Each of the space launches and telescopes including transportation cost should only cost only a few million dollars. Within seven years the company plans to send spacecraft to asteroid remote, looking there for raw materials. Such a trip will cost 25 to 30 million dollars.
The most difficult task is to process (refine) the resources. Robots will get the platinum or palladium not only from the ground, but the process of ore on the spot. From one ton of ore, one gets less than an ounce of palladium. For weight reasons, it may not be worth the bringing the ore back to earth for processing.
Asteroids also have water. Water is a precious space commodity. It can be split into hydrogen and oxygen. It can be used as fuel for a spaceship or satellite. They are dreaming of fuel depots, “The cost of fuel would drop by a factor of 100.”
Planetary Resources plan for Asteroid Mining
Planetary Resources Arkyd Space Telescope
An old NASA design for a moon base