June 26, 2013

Planetary Resources Prepares for Launch of the Arkyd Series of Spacecraft

Initial launch in Spring 2014 will test avionics and control systems

Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company, will advance its mission to mine resource-rich near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) by launching the first in its Arkyd Series of spacecraft – the A3 – into low-Earth orbit as early as April 2014.  The A3 is the Arkyd 100’s technology demonstrator, and the mission will provide for early testing and serve to validate the spacecraft’s core technology and software in the development of the program.

Planetary Resources is under contract with NanoRacks, through its Space Act Agreement with NASA, to release the A3 from the International Space Station’s Kibo airlock. “We are excited for the opportunity that this rapid launch option provides us to begin testing the avionics and control systems of the Arkyd Series spacecraft,” said Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources, Inc.

He continued, “The A3 test flight will enable the Arkyd-100 Series to be the most advanced spacecraft per kilogram that has ever been built. The A3 is a sophisticated yet cost-effective means to test technologies supporting the follow-on Arkyd 100 missions in 2015.” Around the size and weight of a small desk-top computer, the Arkyd 100 provides a compact and capable platform for NEA detection and characterization. The A3 test spacecraft, at just 10 lbs (4 Kg), about one-third the weight of an Arkyd-100, offers an even more compact vehicle for early testing for many of Arkyd 100’s key functions.

Planetary Resources’ long-term mission is to mine NEAs for raw materials, ranging from elements used in rocket fuel to precious metals.  The Arkyd-100 Series will be used in low-Earth orbit to assist in selecting the first priority targets for the company’s follow-on expeditions.

“We believe that the best testbed for the Arkyd is space itself,” said Chris Voorhees, Vice President of Spacecraft Development, Planetary Resources, Inc. “Deploying the A3 from the International Space Station provides an efficient and cost-effective way to test many of the new technologies that we’ve developed for its future asteroid prospecting platforms. The team is excited about getting A3 some flight time on orbit next year.”

About Planetary Resources

Planetary Resources, Inc. was founded in 2009 by Eric Anderson and Dr. Peter H. Diamandis. Our vision is to establish a new paradigm for resource utilization that will bring the Solar System within humanity’s economic sphere of influence. The company will conduct low-cost robotic space exploration beginning with the Arkyd Series of space missions that will identify the most commercially viable near-Earth asteroids. These initial missions will assist the company in enabling the retrieval of raw materials from these select asteroids, including water, precious metals and more.

Planetary Resources is financed by industry-launching visionaries, three of whom include Google’s CEO Larry Page & Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt; and Ross Perot, Jr., Chairman of Hillwood and The Perot Group; who are committed to expanding the world’s resource base so humanity can continue to grow and prosper for centuries to come. Some of the company’s partners and advisors include the Bechtel Corporation; film maker and explorer James Cameron; former Chief of Staff, United States Air Force General T. Michael Moseley (Ret.); and Sara Seager, Ph.D., Professor of Planetary Science and Physics at MIT. Members of the company’s technical staff have worked on every recent U.S. Mars lander including Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity, and include other key non-aerospace and safety-critical disciplines.