When it comes to the advancement of technology and science, there are many roads that end up leading ambitious individuals into space. Planetary Resources is one entity that has focused on this goal from the start, hoping to mine asteroids and “expand Earth’s natural resource base.” Unfortunately, after some failed attempts to secure funding necessary for several projects, they have agreed to an acquisition by ConsenSys Inc., a blockchain software technology firm, as of October 31st.
Planetary Resources was founded in 2009 under the name Arkyd Astronautics, and they reported over 30 investors at one point. In their better days, they managed to raise over $50 million in investments, which funded the launch of two satellites into orbit this year. The platform came on some hard times in early 2018 when they could not close a funding round at the level they needed, and ultimately had to lay off many employees. This also led them to delay the 2020 launch of their first asteroid prospecting mission indefinitely.
The announcement, which was published on the official website for Planetary Resources, said that the purpose of the acquisition is to bring in “deep space capabilities” to ConsenSys. Since the acquisition, Planetary Resources’ President and CEO Chris Lewicki and Counsel Brian Israel have gotten on board.
Lewicki formerly was a flight director that was involved with the Mars rovers and Phoenix Mars lander before his time at Planetary Resources. He said,
“Over the course of nearly a decade, Planetary Resources has simultaneously pioneered technology, business, law and policy, and brought the promise of space resources irreversibly closer to humankind’s grasp. 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.”
Israel previously served the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser, taking control for “the international legal dimensions of outer space, oceans and international environmental governance matters, and served as U.S. Representative to the United Nations space law body,” according to the press release.
While discussing the importance of blockchain in the work of Planetary Resources, Israel mentioned Ethereum, which ConsenSys founder Joe Lubin is responsible for co-founding. Israel said, “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.”
On the new acquisition, Lubin also had comments, which were optimistic and positive. He said,
“I admire Planetary Resources for its world class talent, its record of innovation, and for inspiring people across our planet in support of its bold vision for the future. Bringing deep space capabilities into the ConsenSys ecosystem reflects our belief in the potential for Ethereum to help humanity craft new societal rule systems through automated trust and guaranteed execution. And it reflects our belief in democratizing and decentralizing space endeavors to unite our species and unlock untapped human potential. We look forward to sharing our plans and how to join us on this journey in the months ahead.”
As the report concludes, it indicates that the “initiatives” of ConsenSys will be performed out of the former facility that Planetary Resources used in Redmond, WA.