Start-Up Sees New Frontier in Mining: Asteroids in Space

The riddle of the space asteroid start-up may be closer to being solved.

On Tuesday, Planetary Resources Inc., whose mission has been shrouded in secrecy, will outline in Seattle its plan to send an unmanned spacecraft to an asteroid and mine it for valuable metals and water that could be used in further space exploration or returned to earth.

The company, backed by several billionaires, is working to recruit engineering and mission-planning expertise and allow private companies to bid to help it launch the spacecraft, said John S. Lewis, a University of Arizona planetary-science professor who said he is an adviser to Planetary.

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