Earth-bound technology thwarts ambitious galactic venture

Eric Anderson kick-started the space tourism industry at the age of 23. His company, Space Adventures, sent seven bold millionaires into space on Russian rockets.

He then turned his attention to mining mineral-rich asteroids. His company Planetary Resources was a bold plan to map available asteroid resources and develop space vehicles to launch mining equipment and return the ‘goods’ back to earth.

He enlisted the rich and famous as investors and out-of-work NASA engineers as his academic and delivery resources. The mining of expensive and rare platinum used for fuel cells, catalytic converters, electronics and jewelry, was a key part of their strategy.

In 2012 Anderson said “If the price of platinum group metals dropped by a 100 times we would still make money. We think we can produce platinum for about $300 an ounce.” It was then trading at about US$1,400 an ounce.

Yesterday, still four years before the first operational mining mission is planned, a Chinese nanotechnology firm announced availability of their ‘manufactured’ platinum at US$200 an ounce. Rapid advances in technology have turned it into a science akin to alchemy.

“Platinum is just the first of many rare metals we are able to create at an atomic level. We’ll be able to bring down the prices in significant steps as we scale up our manufacturing resources,” said Lee Fung, CEO of Fung Nano Enterprises in Beijing.

Planetary Resources stocks lost 30% of value overnight and the company is being asked to explain why they did not see this perfect storm coming.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.