By Kevin McCauley

Former Tennessee Congressman Bart Gordon is repping Planetary Resources, the Seattle-based company that intends to mine precious metals contained in the 9,000 near-Earth asteroids, a collection the company calls the “low hanging fruit” of the solar system.

About 1,000 of those NEA’s “are energetically as easy to reach as the Moon,” according to Planetary Resources. There are more than 600K asteroids in the solar system.

Co-founder Peter Diamondis predicts a potential $1T market in asteroid mining and notes that a single 500-meter asteroid may hold more platinum than was ever mined on Earth.

Asteroids have huge reservoirs of water, a resource that could be brought to Earth to bolster its dwindling supply, or used to supply deep-space exploration missions.

Planetary Resources has a deal with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and its “LauncherOne” rocket for a series of launches for its Arkyd space telescopes to identify the most economically promising NEAs.

Those will be targeted for mining missions conducted by robotic spacecraft.
PR retained Gordon’s firm, K&L Gates, for its Washington representation for asteroid mining. There is no pending legislation concerning mining the asteroids.

Gordon, a Democrat who did not seek re-election in 2010, had chaired the House Committee on Science and Technology.

Planetary Resources has some high-profile investors, including Larry Page (Google CEO), Eric Schmidt, (Google executive chairman) and Ross Perot Jr. (son of the billionaire and former presidential candidate).