Planetary Resources, the space asteroid mining venture co-founded by Peter Diamandis, has quietly been tapping talent from Pasadena's NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, according to an email from Diamandis sent to backers of the company. Planetary Resources--which has the backing of such folks as space traveler Charles Simonyi (Microsoft), Larry Page (Google), director James Cameron, and others--said that it several of its staff were the lead engineers for designing, building and testing Curiosity at JPL. Planetary Resources, which is based in Seattle but has operations here in Southern California, said its employees had held positions like lead mechanical engineer for rover development, spacecraft system integration, lead rover structures engineer, rover vehicle lead integration engineer, lead design and delivery for Curiosity’s wheels, and more.
Planetary Resources launched in April, saying it would look to capture asteroids and mine them for valuable minerals, metals, and other resources. Planetary Resources is just one of the latest, space-related ventures ramping operations in Southern California; the latest success at NASA with landing Curiosity on Mars has capped a huge year for the industry, including the successful launch and docking of another local firm, SpaceX, with the International Space Station and an FAA launch permit for Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic out in Mojave.