In the early 15th Century there was an explosion in scientific knowledge. Many discoveries were made in navigation and ship building. The political leadership of the time understood the power of these technical advances and made a series of decisions that altered the world.
Around 1415 the third in line to the Portuguese throne, Prince Henry the Navigator, directed the maritime exploration of the Atlantic. The goal of this exploration was to increase access to resources and increase knowledge.
Spain gained political stability toward the end of the 15th century. The new king and queen decided they could not cede the resources of New World to their rivals in Portugal and launched several expeditions to the New World.
Portugal and Spain were followed by the English, French, Dutch, and Russians and the Age of Exploration was underway. These nations combined new technologies, access to resources, and political will to forge a completely different way of life on Earth. The utility and value of these resources was unprecedented in history. For example, the Dutch East India Company was arguably the most valuable company ever with a value of roughly $7.5 trillion dollars.
Amazing things happen when political will, technology, and resources converge.
600-hundred years after Prince Henry the Navigator began his exploration there was another momentous step in exploration. In July of 2015, Planetary Resources launched its first spacecraft. That spacecraft tested the core technologies that will enable asteroid mining. Two of our next-generation spacecraft will launch in the coming months.
The asteroids we will mine have resources on them in quantities that are hard to comprehend and with values that dwarf the Dutch East India Company. These resources will give humanity the tools to explore the Solar System, enable new scientific discovery, and improve life on Earth.
Along with the advances in technology and resource identification there have been tremendous advances in policy and law. In November of 2015, the United States passed a law recognizing the right of its citizens to own the resources they obtain from asteroids. This law was the culmination of two-years of work among an industry led by Planetary Resources and the Executive and Legislative branches of government.
This past week Luxembourg announced its legal structure for space resource utilization. Luxembourg’s law is similar to the U.S. law but it also goes a step further and creates the framework to authorize and supervise the actions of asteroid mining companies. We are proud to be partners with Luxembourg on this effort.
Planetary Resources is excited to be working with the two nations leading in the space resources industry and there are more nations that will soon adopt similar laws.
Here at the beginning of the 21st century, space technology is rapidly growing and we have identified unprecedented amounts of resources on asteroids. Now, just like in the 15th century, the political leadership has recognized that this technology development, combined with the untapped resources will have the ability to expand our horizons, increase knowledge, and enhance the quality of life for all humanity.
Welcome to the Second Age of Exploration.
Vice President, Global Engagement
Planetary Resources, Inc.