Company Profile: Planetary Resources

Planetary Resources, formerly Arkyd Astronautics, is a startup focused on exploration and development of resource-rich asteroids within our solar system. With a focus on applying commercial, innovative techniques to explore space, they will use low-cost robotic spacecraft to ultimately deliver resources to both space-based and terrestrial customers.[1]

Why mine asteroids? “To enable humans to become a multi-planetary species.” Planetary Resources is one of the first entrants into the space mining industry. Business to Business (B2B) focused, the company’s goal is to provide exploration entities, like NASA and others, as well as terrestrial companies, with necessary minerals and other resources. They started with a crowd-funding campaign to work on its Arkyd orbital space telescope; the point of which is develop a market for cost-reduced earth-observing and asteroid-observing telescopes.[2] The campaign became the most successful crowd-funded space project to date.[3]

The target market for the company appears fairly general because of the multi-step strategy. The first step is targeted at companies wanting to purchase earth-observing satellites or satellite data; based on the low-cost space telescope. While the earth-observing satellite market is not new, the low-cost sector has just recently become a distinct segment. After that, they are targeting national and commercial space agencies, providing data on asteroids close to Earth; this is a market that is also not very well explored. While NASA and other national organizations know about the large near-earth asteroids, there is a vast majority that has not been well observed. And finally, they are targeting national and commercial space agencies, as well as terrestrial companies, interested in space-based mining resources. This is a market that does not exist at all yet; sample return missions have, so far, only been accomplished by national organizations.

The strategy to acquire these target markets is where Planetary Resources is unique. With its initial crowd-funding campaign, they garnered a great deal of public attention and outside funding; they were asking for $1M from the crowd and ended up with more than $1.5M. [4] They now have more than 20K likes on Facebook and 14.4K followers on Twitter.

Planetary Resources is developing a new market and getting the public to help pay for it through crowd-funding; this is an amazing strategy, but it carries a significant amount of risk and uncertainty about the company’s future. I am looking forward to seeing how this pans out and what kind of competition they will face as the market matures.

Aleem Wali
MBA Candidate, Class of 2016
Foster School of Business, University of Washington
www.linkedin.com/in/aleemwali/

[1] Mission. Planetaryresources. Web. 05 October, 2014. <http://www.planetaryresources.com&gt;

[2] Planetary Resources. Wikipedia. Web. 05 October 5, 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_Resources&gt;

[3] Space Crowdfunding: What’s the Secret? Airspacemag. Web. 09 September, 2014. 05 October, 2014. <http://www.airspacemag.com/daily-planet/space-crowdfunding-whats-secret-180952649/&gt;

[4] Space Crowdfunding: What’s the Secret? Airspacemag. Web. 09 September, 2014. 05 October, 2014. <http://www.airspacemag.com/daily-planet/space-crowdfunding-whats-secret-180952649/&gt;

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