ConsenSys, a cryptocurrency firm, well-known for the development of the IT platform Ethereum and its respective coin Ether, has purchased a company specializing in space mining, Planetary Resources Inc.; the firms have however not disclosed any details about the deal.
Founded in 2009 and formerly known as Arkyd Astronautics, Planetary Resources is supposedly engaged in the exploration, extracting and refining of resources from asteroids. The company, which reportedly has over 30 high-profile investors and has raised more than $50 million in funds, has sent two satellites into orbit over the last six months and is expected to mine its first space rock in the near future. The acquisition of Planetary Resources is meant to bring “deep space capabilities” into the cryptocurrency ecosystem, ConsenSys’s promising brainchild, with Planetary Resources’ expertise in space seamlessly meshed with the cryptocurrency firm’s.
Joe Lubin, founder of ConsenSys, an up-and-coming venture in today’s market, referred to the deal as one “reflecting our belief in democratizing and decentralizing space endeavors to unite our species and unlock untapped human potential.”
Meanwhile, Planetary Resources’ President and CEO Chris Lewicki is known to have extensive space research experience, having previously worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as Flight Director of the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers and Phoenix Mars lander.
“I am proud of our team’s extraordinary accomplishments, grateful to our visionary supporters, and delighted to join ConsenSys in building atop our work to expand humanity’s economic sphere of influence into the solar system,” Lewicki said in the statement.
Brian Israel, who has also joined ConsenSys in connection with the acquisition, has slightly less space research experience. Before joining the firm, Israel served in the US State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser, where he was responsible for the international legal dimensions of outer space, oceans and international environmental governance matters, and served as US Representative to the United Nations’ space law body.
“Ethereum smart contract functionality is a natural solution for private-ordering and commerce in space—the only domain of human activity not ordered around territorial sovereignty—in which a diverse range of actors from a growing number of countries must coordinate and transact,” said Israel.
Planetary Resources is known to have focused on the asteroid mining initiative back in 2012, originally planning to mine near Earth asteroids for water ice that could later be extracted and sold as propellant. It even developed an array of cubesats to demonstrate its asteroid mining prospects; however the ambitious plans subsequently stalled due to a lack of funding.