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Big-name investors eye asteroid mining?

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A cryptic news release issued last week suggested a blockbuster team of investors -- including Google Inc. co-founder Larry Page and Canadian filmmaker James Cameron -- are set to back a space-exploration venture that could have plans to mine asteroids.

The release contained few details of the team's plans but suggested more would be revealed this morning during a news conference at Seattle's Museum of Flight.

"The company will overlay two critical sectors -- space exploration and natural resources -- to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP," the release said, adding the startup would "create a new industry and new definition of 'natural resources.' "

Plans for the company, to be called Planetary Resources Inc., will be unveiled by space entrepreneurs Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson, along with NASA scientists and astronauts Chris Lewicki and Tom Jones, the release said.

In addition to Page and the exploration-minded Cameron, investors and advisers in the company include Google chairman Eric Schmidt, former Microsoft Corp. chief software architect Charles Simonyi and Ross Perot Jr., son of the well-known U.S. businessman.

The release, apparently circulated last Wednesday, got many speculating on what the company's purpose would be.

MIT's Technology Review and Discover Magazine's Bad Astronomy blog both suggested it could be asteroid mining.

-- Postmedia News, with files from Reuters

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 24, 2012 A5

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