Asteroid mining firm hires former White House officer

Asteroid mining start-up Planetary Resources has hired Peter Marquez, former director of space policy under US Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, as the company’s new vice president for global engagement.

In a statement the billionaire-backed company said Marquez will work with various entities in the US and abroad to help Planetary Resources’ mission of extracting and exploiting raw materials from near-Earth asteroids.

"Peter brings a wealth of knowledge that will make Planetary Resources successful as we begin working closer with the US government and foreign partners," company co-founder and co-chairman Eric Anderson said.

The Bellevue, Washington- based firm, which counts Google execs Larry Page and Eric Schmidt among its investors, plans to mine asteroids for water, precious metals and other resources.

The company recently launched a crowd funding campaign to build and fly a space telescope for public use and, so far, the effort has raised $846,000 toward its $1 million goal.

Planetary Resources has seen competitors coming into sight since it was launched last year. A company called Deep Space Industries announced in January its plans to extract resources from space rocks, with a similar goal of spurring solar system exploration.