Mongolia, the land of Genghis Khan and nomadic herders, is in the midst of a remarkable transition. Rich in coal, gold and copper, this country of fewer than 3 million people in Central Asia is riding a mineral boom that is expected to more than double its GDP within a decade. The rapid changes simultaneously excite and unnerve many Mongolians, who hope mining can help pull many out of poverty, but worry it will ravage the environment and further erode the nation's distinctive, nomadic identity.
Today, a group of entrepreneurs unveiled a new company that aims to mine precious metals and other resources from asteroids. The idea of exploiting the natural resources on asteroids has been around for more than a century, and this is not the first company to lay out such grand plans.
But as NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports, this one does have the financial backing of some big names in high tech.
It's not J.J. Abrams' souped up special effects film, 'Armageddon' - there's a real effort afoot to launch rockets into space to dock with asteroids. A new company is trying to do just that, and it's won the backing of several technology leaders.