Asteroid Miners Reach K Street Orbit

In this handout from NASA, the giant asteroid Vesta is seen in an image taken from the NASA Dawn spacecraft about 3,200 miles above the surface July 24, 2011 in Space. The Dawn spacecraft slipped into orbit around the asteroid on July 15, and for the next year will gather pictures and information. It will then travel to the asteroid Ceres, arriving in 2015. (National Journal)

A Seattle-area company developing technology to mine asteroids for valuable raw materials like platinum is expanding its Beltway presence.

Planetary Resources has retained former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt as a lobbyist, according to a filing made public this week.

The hiring of Gephardt Government Affairs is the second prominent lobbying shop that Planetary Resources has brought on. The company retained K&L Gates last year.

The company's futuristic vision — which includes the possibility of deterring a dangerous earthbound asteroid — has attracted lots of ink.

Google's top executives are investors in the company, and Hollywood director James Cameron is an adviser.