Are Google executives and James Cameron planning to mine asteroids?

Speculation is mounting that group of heavy-hitting investors—including filmmaker James Cameron and Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt—may announce next week in Seattle plans to mine asteroids for minerals.

A new company named Planetary Resources will make an announcement on Tuesday at the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery at The Museum of Flight in Seattle.

According to the press release, ". . . the company will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of 'natural resources.'"

Asteroids are rich in valuable minerals. An M-type asteroid, the third most common type, just one km diameter could contain more than two billion tons of iron ore and nickel.

Google co-founders have been known to take on big, outside-of-the-norm projects. The company is testing driverless cars. Google's founders have also invested in space tourism projects.

Full news release from Planetary Resources is below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 18, 2012

*** Media Alert *** Media Alert *** Media Alert ***

Space Exploration Company to Expand Earth's Resource Base

WHAT:             Join visionary Peter H. Diamandis, M.D.; leading commercial space entrepreneurEric Anderson; former NASA Mars mission manager Chris Lewicki; and planetary scientist & veteran NASA astronaut Tom Jones, Ph.D. on Tuesday, April 24 at 10:30 a.m. PDT in Seattle, or via webcast, as they unveil a new space venture with a mission to help ensure humanity's prosperity.

Supported by an impressive investor and advisor group, including Google’s Larry Page & Eric Schmidt, Ph.D.; film maker & explorer James Cameron; Chairman of Intentional Software Corporation and Microsoft’s former Chief Software Architect Charles Simonyi, Ph.D.; Founder of Sherpalo and Google Board of Directors founding member K. Ram Shriram; and Chairman of Hillwood and The Perot Group Ross Perot, Jr., the company will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of ‘natural resources’.

The news conference will be held at the Museum of Flight in Seattle on Tuesday, April 24 at 10:30 a.m. PDT and available online via webcast.

WHEN:             Tuesday, April 24

10:30 a.m. PDT

WHO:               Charles Simonyi, Ph.D., Space Tourist, Planetary Resources, Inc. Investor

Eric Anderson, Co-Founder & Co-Chairman, Planetary Resources, Inc.

Peter H. Diamandis, M.D., Co-Founder & Co-Chairman, Planetary Resources, Inc.

Chris Lewicki, President & Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources, Inc.

Tom Jones, Ph.D., Planetary Scientist, Veteran NASA Astronaut & Planetary Resources, Inc. Advisor

WHERE:           Charles Simonyi Space Gallery at The Museum of Flight

9404 East Marginal Way South

Seattle, WA 98108

Event will also be streamed online.

Hat tip, Technology Review

Image of James Cameron speaking at the TED Conference in 2010 from Steve Jurvetson