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Blockchain company buys asteroid mining firm Planetary Resources

It's a match made in 2018.
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dottedhippo via Getty Images

Planetary Resources just took an unusual turn on its path to asteroid mining. ConsenSys, a blockchain company created by Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin, has bought Planetary Resources for an unspecified sum. It sounds supremely trendy given the combination of blockchain and private spaceflight, but it's a logical fit if you ask Planetary Resources' Brian Israel. Blockchain-based smart contracts represent a "natural solution" for commerce in space, Israel said -- there are no territorial divisions, so this may be an ideal way for people from various countries to "coordinate and transact."

ConsenSys will run its space strategy at Planetary Resources' former Redmond, Washington location. Both Israel and Planetary Resources chief Chris Lewicki are joining ConsenSys as part of the deal.

The newly united companies haven't outlined a roadmap at this stage. However, the acquisition is as much the result of financial necessity as anything else. The company has edged closer to its plans of asteroid mining by testing its technologies in space, but it recently laid off employees after failing to secure an important funding round. ConsenSys' takeover gives Planetary Resources a lifeline that should keep its plans intact, even if it's now likely that the company will delay a key asteroid inspection mission past its original 2020 target.

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