The Arkyd Series 100 LEO class. A assembly line manufactured, low planetary orbit telescope designed for remote sensing in space and detecting rare elements, water and metals.
The Arkyd Series 200 Interceptor class. A modification of the LEO where propulsion capabilities have been added, allowing for deeper spaced penetration and coordinated tracking of orbiting bodies using multiple Intercepter class spacecraft.
The Arkyd Series 300 Rendezvous Prospector class. A modified Interceptor class craft with tight beam laser communications capabilities, exhibiting swarm capabilities with other Prospector class craft they will minimize risks of deep space mining by spreading that risk across multiple, semi-autonomous craft.
Whether you like your SciFi gritty and human, or slick and scientific, you should be celebrating right now. All of those craft sound a hell of a lot like science fiction, but in reality these could be less than 20 years in the future. In fact, the Arkyd 100 LEO is slated for use before 2020. Cheap, assembly line created spacecraft for use in prospecting throughout our solar system with the end result being water depots in space and rare-earth elements being brought to our planet.
In what really is a historic press conference, Planetary Resources outlined their mission, nothing short of asteroid mining (the basis for so many scifi stories and game elements) which will certainly change the way we as a species view space, and view the resources available off-Earth. I was watching the press conference yesterday and I was really struck by the overall science fiction feel of our modern lives.
I was watching a live video feed about asteroid mining on a palm sized device that I controlled by touch, which also allows me to communicate to just about anyone, anywhere in a variety of methods. But that’s not what truly makes me excited.
In the past, the wealthiest members of society where law makers and business leaders. Intent on using technology only as stepping stones to more power. Today though we have our first crop of geeks entering this power sphere. The first group of people who grew up on science fiction, studied computers and math, and then made their fortune exploiting these new technologies. For the first time in our history, we have geeks in the most wealthy club, and they haven’t forgotten their legacy. That’s what makes me excited.
Hopefully this will offer far less chance of ancient cthonic gods being contacted in space, or ousters invading our inner spheres of humanity and far more chances to improve the lots of everyone here on Earth while simultaneously realizing our dream of exploring this new frontier.
Putting water in orbit (water which costs about $20,000 USD a liter to get up into space from Earth) is an amazing feat in itself. There we have resources for people in orbit to consume, either by drinking it or cracking it into oxygen and hydrogen and using it to jet about the solar system.
Add to that the potential to bring more rare-earth metals to the Earth in the next 40 years than have been mined from the Earth in the entire history of our race – that’s going to be game changing. All of the high-tech toys and tools we enjoy will become cheaper to manufacture, and thus just cheaper in general.
That’s not even considering the scientific, engineering and manufacturing advances that this could bring to everyone. And all of this from a private company that is far less risk averse than government agencies.
So break out your favorite scifi books, start a new session of Traveller or just sit back and stare in wonder at the night sky, while using the mobile device of your choice to explore it (Google Sky anyone?). We’re living in the future I read about in 1980 and I for one am going to enjoy every last minute of it.