Google's Larry Page, filmmaker James Cameron, and X-Prize Foundation founder Peter Diamandis want to mine asteroids. Popular Mechanics writes step-by-step instructions.
STEP 1 - GET PROSPECTING
To mine an asteroid, a company like Planetary Resources first has to find one that promises a good return on investment. But asteroids don't glitter like stars. They are small, dark, and easily obscured by the distorting effect of Earth's atmosphere. The best way to hunt for them is with a telescope floating in space. At the Bellevue, Wash., headquarters of Planetary Resources, chief engineer and company president Chris Lewicki is assembling the components of the first privately owned space telescope, the Arkyd 100 series.
The 44-pound spacecraft will be smaller and simpler than any government-funded space telescope. The $1.5 billion Hubble Space Telescope has a 94-inch-diameter primary mirror; Arkyd's mirrors will be 9 inches wide. Hubble has a wide field of view, as well as other instruments to scan objects in distant space. Arkyd needs only to look in our own solar system for targets. Being small saves money: Rockets carrying larger sats could also haul these telescopes as secondary payloads, decreasing launch costs.