There are no roads where we’re headed. But we have a map.
Planetary Resources’ near-term goals are to dramatically reduce the cost of asteroid exploration. We will combine the best practices of commercial aerospace innovation, operational adaptability, and rapid manufacturing to create robotic explorers that cost an order of magnitude less than current systems. We will control costs by constraining scope and creating simple designs that can be executed by a small, expert team. And although we will hold ourselves to the highest standards and practices, we will aggressively accept mission risk where appropriate.
Our philosophy will allow rapid development of private, commercial interplanetary space exploration. In light of fiscal challenges facing the spaceflight community, innovation in cost and market is as valuable as innovation in capability.
While much of Planetary Resources’ technology is proprietary, our technological approach is driven by a few simple principles to enable innovation in cost. We are incorporating recent innovations in commercial microelectronics, medical devices, and information technology, in ways not traditionally used by robotic spacecraft.
Deep space exploration also presents specific challenges to spacecraft design. Critical to our success are advancements in the fields of collaborative exploration, deep space optical communications, and efficient micro-propulsion. Planetary Resources is actively working in these areas for our own efforts as well as for NASA and the benefit of the greater space science community.
Flexibility in our design, and implementation in a small package, will enable launch opportunities by taking advantage of rideshare with other spacecraft.
The ARKYD 100, a commercial space telescope within reach of the private citizen
The ARKYD 100 is the first private space telescope and a stepping-stone to near-Earth asteroids. This space telescope, utilized in low Earth orbit, represents the next milestone on our technology development roadmap.
At Planetary Resources, we are committed to a disciplined approach of fielding systems simple enough to be designed, manufactured, tested and integrated by a small team, yet robust enough to get the job done. The ARKYD 100 will demonstrate that critical capability in Earth orbit.
The resulting capability of the ARKYD 100, at an unprecedented low price, empowers a new community to intimately participate in space-based remote sensing and the further exploration of the cosmos.
Arkyd Series 200 - Interceptor
Interceptor, a low cost asteroid mission that enables accelerated exploration
Adding propulsion capabilities and additional scientific instrumentation to the ARKYD 100 Space Telescope enables an Earth-crossing asteroid Interceptor mission. Several undiscovered asteroids are seen for the first time as they routinely cross through Earth’s neighborhood. By hitching a ride with a launched satellite headed for a geostationary orbit, Interceptor will be well positioned to fly-by and collect data on these new targets of opportunity.
Two or more Interceptors can work together as a team to potentially identify, track and fly-by the asteroids that travel between the Earth and our Moon. The closest encounters may result in a planned spacecraft “intercept,” providing the highest-resolution data, similar to how government efforts first explored the Moon with the Ranger missions (1961-65) and later with the Deep Impact mission at Comet 9P/Tempel (2005).
These Interceptor missions will allow Planetary Resources to quickly acquire data on several near-Earth asteroids.
Arkyd Series 300 - Rendezvous Prospector
Characterizing an asteroid’s value and preparing for mining operations
By augmenting the Interceptor spacecraft with deep space laser communication capability, Planetary Resources can launch the Rendezvous Prospector mission to a more distant asteroid, much further away from Earth. Orbiting the asteroid, the Rendezvous Prospector will collect data on the asteroid’s shape, rotation, density, and surface and sub-surface composition.
Through the use of multiple Rendezvous Prospector spacecraft, Planetary Resources will distribute mission risk across several units and allow for broad based functionality within the cluster of spacecraft.
Rendezvous Prospector also results in the creation and demonstration of a low-cost interplanetary spacecraft capability, of interest to potential customers such as NASA, scientific agencies, or other private exploratory organizations.
Redefining “natural resources” for the benefit of humanity
Initial space resource development will focus on water-rich asteroids. Water is the essence of life and exists in plentiful supply on asteroids. Access to water and other life-supporting volatiles in space provides hydration, breathable air, radiation shielding and even manufacturing capabilities. Water’s elements, hydrogen and oxygen, can also be used to formulate rocket fuel. Using the resources of space – to explore space – will enable the large-scale exploration of the Solar System.
Recovery and processing of materials in a microgravity environment will occur through significant research and development. Planetary Resources will lead the creation of critical in-situ extraction and processing technologies to provide access to both asteroidal water and metals. When combined with our low-cost deep space explorers, this represents an enabling capability for the sustainable development of space.