Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company, announced today an agreement with Virgin Galactic, LLC that will enable multiple launch opportunities for its series of spacecraft, including the Arkyd-100 low-Earth orbit (LEO) space telescopes.
Continuous, low-cost launch services for small spacecraft to LEO assists in accelerating Planetary Resources’ vision to make valuable space resources from Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) available to humanity. “While the Arkyd spacecraft line itself radically reduces the traditional cost of exploring the NEAs, the less expensive the cost to launch an Arkyd spacecraft to LEO, the more spacecraft the company will launch. The more spacecraft that the company launches, the faster it will create a future where access to asteroid resources results in a vast network of propellant depots throughout space and a future where once precious and rare materials are abundant for all.
Of the nearly 10,000 known NEAs, there are more than 1,500 that are energetically as easy to reach as the Moon. In the next few years, constellations of Arkyd-100 Series space telescopes will help fulfill the company’s early objective of identifying additional energetically-optimal, highly-valuable NEAs which will then be added to the detailed list of the company’s prospecting targets and pursued for future potential resource extraction.
Richard Branson today set out the roadmap for Virgin Galactic’s immediate future by announcing that he will be taking his children along for the ride when the SpaceShipTwo (SS2) makes its inaugural flight next year (should all go to plan). As expected, Branson also confirmed plans for a commercial service to put satellites in orbit at a tenth of today’s costs, marking the resumption of Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne program.
The company’s WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft would take off from a runway with a rocket, called LauncherOne, able to deliver payloads up to 500 pounds to orbit for under $10 million, Virgin Galactic said.