Ethereum Studio ConsenSys Purchased an Asteroid Mining Company

Christopher Davidson
November 5, 2018

Planetary Resources first announced its asteroid mining plans in 2012 after three years in stealth mode.

Water is important for fuelling rockets, so this stage of the enterprise would be the equivalent of an Earth-bound explorer looking for diesel to power the drill rig.

ConsenSys is run by Joe Lubin, who co-founded the Ethereum smart contracts system.

Lubin said in the announcement the partnership made sense for both companies.

In connection with the acquisition, Planetary Resources' President & CEO Chris Lewicki and General Counsel Brian Israel have joined ConsenSys.

The company had employed 70 people before layoffs this year, so the acquisition could see some rehiring take place. The company's original vision that called for prospecting near-Earth asteroids for water ice attracted many high-profile investors, including Google co-founder Larry Page and chairman Eric Schmidt, Richard Branson, and even the government of Luxembourg's space initiative.

The long odds of finding and then successfully exploiting an asteroid's minerals and metals were laid out by a consultant to a United Kingdom hopeful Amanda Jane Hughes earlier this year.

Planetary Resources began in 2009, launched its first demo satellite in 2015 and now has another demo in orbit.

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Ethereum-focused venture studio ConsenSys has acquired asteroid mining company Planetary Resources through an asset-purchase transaction, the company announced in a press release on October 31, 2018.

The principle sounds as lofty as the ambition: "democratizing and decentralizing space endeavours to unite our species and unlock untapped human potential". The company has already launched a pair of satellites into space, including a successful test of an infrared imager on its Arkyd six craft. The technology to successfully mine such asteroids is not yet developed, but many companies are in the process of doing so.

And while Lubin didn't disclose how specifically Planetary Resources fit into his company, Lewicki and Israel offered few details about Planetary Resources' future in the company's statement.

Lewicki said in a statement that he was "proud of our team's extraordinary accomplishments", and thanked the company's past supporters.In addition, Planetary Resources will continue its work "to expand humanity's economic sphere of influence into the solar system".

"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.

ConsenSys is not the only blockchain company that is interested in space operations.

While ConsenSys' acquisition of Planetary Resources may have come as a surprise to some, it could also be the latest move in a growing trend of blockchain industry insiders recognizing aerospace as a potential growth partner and vice versa. "That's a possibility that could be enabled by the new venture", Lewicki responded.

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