Later today a group of high profile billionaires will be officially announcing the formation of a new company called Planetary Resources. Their mission? To mine near-Earth asteroids for whatever resources they may hold.
If it sounds like a bold plan, that's because it will have to be.
To help us wrap our heads around just how "space mining" might work, the team at Space.com has created the infographic below to illustrate what's at stake. They outline what we might find on the asteroids, and just how the new company might approach this complex task.
At the very least, to engage in space mining, the company will need to will need to develop complex new technology and space machinery to get the job done.
So while it may be a commercial enterprise for the company's billionaire investors, there is a larger value to launching such a program. It could be an important way for the U.S. to keep pushing the envelope in terms of continuing space travel, technology and exploration in the post Space Shuttle world.
Fortunately, the investors behind Planetary Resources represent a wide range of big thinkers and innovative business leaders who are likely to bring all sorts of ideas and solutions to the table in addition to their deep pockets.
Some of the investors include film director and explorer James Cameron, founder of space tourism company Space Adventures Eric Anderson, X Prize founder Peter Diamandis and Google CEO Larry Page just to name a few.
I for one can't wait to hear what these billionaires have planned!