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Private firm plans to initiate ‘multibillion dollar’ asteroid mining industry

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SAN FRANCISCO — A startup backed by top Google executives and film director James Cameron on Tuesday unveiled a plan to mine asteroids for precious minerals and water.

Planetary Resources used a space museum in the Pacific Northwest city of Seattle as a launching pad for a bold plan to prospect on resource-rich chunks of rock not far from Earth in space.

“The promise of Planetary Resources is to apply commercial innovation to space exploration,” said former NASA astronaut Tom Jones, an advisor to the startup.

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“They are developing cost-effective, production-line spacecraft that will visit near-Earth asteroids in rapid succession, increasing our scientific knowledge of these bodies and enabling the economic development of the resources they contain.”

Planetary Resources said that it was “poised to initiate” space mining missions in what it predicted would become a multibillion dollar industry.

A single 500-meter platinum-rich asteroid contains the equivalent of all the Platinum Group Metals mined in history, according to the startup, whose backers include Google co-founders Larry Page and and Eric Schmidt.

“Many of the scarce metals and minerals on Earth are in near-infinite quantities in space,” said Planetary Resources co-founder Peter Diamandis, who created the X Prize.

“As access to these materials increases, not only will the cost of everything from microelectronics to energy storage be reduced, but new applications for these abundant elements will result in important and novel applications.”

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Water-rich near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) could be springboards for deep space exploration by serving as fueling and supply depots, according to the startup.

“Water is perhaps the most valuable resource in space,” said Planetary Resources co-founder Eric Anderson.

“In addition to supporting life, water will also be separated into oxygen and hydrogen for breathable air and rocket propellant.”

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More than 1,500 of the approximately 9,000 known NEAs are as reachable as the moon in terms of how much energy it would take for the trip, according to the startup.

The company has developed the first in what it said will be a family of prospecting spacecraft dubbed Arkyd-100 Series.

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“Our mission is not only to expand the world’s resource base,” said Planetary Resources chief engineer Chris Lewicki.

“We want to increase people’s access to, and understanding of, our planet and solar system by developing capable and cost-efficient systems.”

Watch video, courtesy of the Associated Press, below:

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#PresidentPelosi Trends After Sondland Testimony Implicates Pence in Trump Ukraine Scheme

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The hashtag #PresidentPelosi was trending Wednesday as Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified to the House Intelligence Committee in the impeachment hearings on President Donald Trump's Ukrainian schemes for assistance in the 2020 election and implicated Vice President Mike Pence in the effort.

If Trump and Pence are both removed from office over their involvement in the plot, the next in line for the presidency is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

"I'm fine with Pelosi serving as interim president until we hold an election," tweeted activist Bree Newsom. "Both Trump and Pence are implicated in this conspiracy to extort Ukraine."

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Trump claims not to ‘know’ Gordon Sondland very well — but the evidence suggests otherwise

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President Donald Trump attempted to distance himself Wednesday from his hand-selected European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland. At the same time, Trump claimed that Sondland’s stunning testimony, which alleged that the president had ordered a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine, in fact, vindicated him.

“Was there a ‘quid pro quo’?” Sondland said in his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday. "The answer is ‘yes.’”

Sondland further claimed that “everyone was in the loop” and all actions were “directed” by the president.

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The latest GOP defense of Trump crumbles in impeachment hearing

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It was a day of blockbuster day of testimony from E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, in which Sondland — who once gave Donald Trump a million dollars for his inauguration — decided to save his own hide by ratting out not just Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, but seemingly half the senior staff of the White House.

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