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Billionaire-Backed Space Venture Planetary Resources to be Unveiled April 24

Logo for Planetary Resources, Inc.
Logo for Planetary Resources, Inc. (Image credit: Planetary Resources, Inc.)

An audacious new private space exploration company backed by billionaire investors and filmmaker-turned-explorer James Cameron will unveil its master plan "to help ensure humanity's prosperity" on Tuesday, April 24.

While details of the company, called Planetary Resources, Inc., and its mission are still under wraps, officials with the enterprise did state that "the company will overlay two critical sectors — space exploration and natural resources — to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP," according to media alert sent to reporters today (April 18).

On April 24, Planetary Resources officials will announce details of their space exploration plans in a press conference at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Wash., according to the alert. The announcement will be held in the museum's Charles Simonyi Space Gallery, which is named after billionaire software developer Charles Simonyi, a Planetary Resources investor.

"This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of 'natural resources,'" company officials said in the statement.

Planetary Resources was co-founded by two veteran commercial space pioneers: Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson.

Diamandis is chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, which offers prizes for technological feats, as well as a co-founder of Zero-G Corporation, which offers commercial flights to experience weightlessness aboard a modified Boeing 727-200 jet. Anderson, meanwhile, is the chairman and co-founder of Space Adventures, the only company ever to broker multimillion-dollar flights for private citizens to the International Space Station. Simonyi, for example, flew to the space station twice with Space Adventures, most recently in 2009 on a trip that cost a reported $35 million.

Other big investment icons and spaceflight industry veterans form the core of Planetary Resources' team, according to the media alert.  

The company named "Titanic" filmmaker James Cameron and Google's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt among its groupof investors and advisors. Others on board include Simonyi, Google board of directors founding member K. Ram Shriram and Ross Perot, Jr., who is chairman of Hillwood and the Perot Group.

Former NASA astronaut Tom Jones, a planetary scientist, will serve as an advisor for Planetary Resources. Former NASA Mars mission manager Chris Lewicki, who worked on the successful Phoenix lander, serves as the company's president and chief engineer.

When Planetary Resources makes its big reveal next week, it will be the second billionaire-backed private space company to be announced within the last six months.

In December, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen unveiled his new company Stratolaunch Systems, which plans to build the world's largest airplane and use it as an air-based launch pad to send people into orbit.

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Tariq Malik

SPACE.COM EDITOR IN CHIEF — Tariq joined the team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became's Managing Editor in 2009. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Google+, Twitter and on Facebook.