A blockchain startup hopes to get a cut from a potentially trillion dollar industry after it has taken control of a space company created to extract near-Earth asteroids.
ConsenSys announced the acquisition of Planetary Resources on Wednesday 31 October, along with its intention to "democratize and decentralize space efforts".
The start of space mining has had high profile support since its establishment in 2009, including Google co-founder Larry Page, involved in a $ 21.1 million funding round in 2016.
"Over the course of nearly a decade, Planetary Resources pioneered technology, business, law and politics, and brought the promise of space resources irreversibly closer to the reach of humanity," he said Chris Lewicki, a former NASA worker who helped found Planetary resources.
"I am proud of our team's outstanding achievements, grateful to our visionary supporters, and happy to join ConsenSys in building on top of our work to expand the sphere of economic influence of humanity in the Solar System."
The asteroid extraction has the potential to become a trillion dollar industry in the coming decades, according to experts who claim they can provide an almost endless supply of resources for humanity.
Commercially viable asteroids include those containing minerals like gold, silver and platinum, which could be extracted and transported to Earth.
In 2015, the US government recognized this potential by legalizing the extraction of asteroids and moving away from the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that banned it.
The acquisition of Planetary Resources by a blockchain startup involved with ethereum is not a surprise given the nature of space mining, according to Brian Israel, who previously worked with the US government on the international legal dimensions of space.
"The Ethereum Intelligent Contracting Feature is a natural solution for private order and space commerce – the only domain of unordered human activity around territorial sovereignty – in which a wide range of actors from a growing number of countries must coordinate and negotiate, "said Israel, who now serves as a general councilor for Planetary Resources.
The founder of ConsenSys, Joe Lubin, reiterated this feeling, saying that space society was in line with the belief of his company "in the potential for ethereum to help humanity to create new systems of social rules through automatic trust and guaranteed execution ".
He added: "It reflects our belief in democratizing and decentralizing space efforts to unite our species and unlock untapped human potential, and we can not share our plans and join us on this journey in coming months ".