Collision course

日期:2017-07-07 03:46:50 作者:海舻 阅读:

By Kurt Kleiner A plan to bring a dash of private enterprise to the world of space science has fallen foul of Wall Street regulators. James William Benson, a Colorado software mogul, is accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of misleading investors by overstating the prospects of his company, SpaceDev. Last year, Benson announced that SpaceDev would shoot a privately funded probe to a near-Earth asteroid. The company would make money by selling information to researchers, and by renting out space for experiments on board the craft (This Week, 20 September 1997, p 18). Benson predicted revenues of $10 million and earnings of $2 million by the end of this year. The SEC criticises Benson for failing to mention that these projections depended on a number of contingencies, such as funding from NASA for projects to fly on the probe. Benson claims that the SEC is being overzealous: “We’re vigorously denying the charges.” He also argues that SpaceDev’s achievements are being overshadowed by the SEC’s complaint. Two weeks ago, Tony Spear, a former Mars Pathfinder project manager, delivered a feasibility study that concluded the project could work as advertised. Following advice from the same study, SpaceDev has chosen to target the asteroid Nereus, which will pass close to Earth in 2002. Nereus is carbonaceous and might have a high water content, which could give us clues about the early formation of the Solar System,