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Rhinegold, Space Cowboys, and “Planetary Resources”

19 Apr 2012, 13:47 UTC
Rhinegold, Space Cowboys, and “Planetary Resources”
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The internet is alight with rumors concerning the James Cameron/Charles Simonyi/Peter Diamandis/Eric Anderson-backed superproject, not yet more than a speculation-frothing logo, to be announced April 24th:

These rumors go on to speculate that the venture will be a full-fledged asteroid-mining venture, sparked in no small part by the media alert sent by the company yesterday, which stated that it “will overlay two critical sectors — space exploration and natural resources — to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP.”
Let’s just say that’s where I was given pause. Of course it’ll be extraterrestrial resources, (as if the name isn’t overt enough,) but I agree – they’ll likely be going after nickel-iron asteroid bodies, to start.
Why would I say so? Well, I calculated those very same numbers 13 years ago.
The Rhinegold Project
Set the time machine back to 1999 for a moment.
There, at the University of Wyoming, in the back corner of an undergraduate physics course, you’d find a couple of young, idealistic astrophysics majors ignoring the lecture on frictionless surfaces and discussing the problems that brought us there: Dark Energy, (though it hadn’t been named that, yet; it was the High-Z Problem at that time,) Dark ...

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