Planetary Resources, the high-profile new company backed by Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, and James Cameron among others, announced earlier today that it would be prospecting for near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) containing precious metals in the Platinum group or other natural resources. Now, it's revealed more about how it plans to reach these NEAs and bring their contents back to Earth.

Essentially, the company hopes to jump between asteroids, extending the reach of its ships by targeting NEAs rich with water. "In addition to supporting life, water will also be separated into oxygen and hydrogen for breathable air and rocket propellant," co-founder Eric Anderson explained in a press release. Planetary Resources claims that 1,500 of the known 9,000 NEAs can be reached with the same amount of energy it takes to get to the Moon; it will find prospective candidates for mining with deep-space prospecting craft like the Arkyd-100 series, which it has apparently already developed. The project will be officially announced later today, so hopefully we'll have more details soon.

Update: We're currently covering the conference live here.