“After several tours in space working for others, perhaps on six-month or year-long contracts, it’s likely that some workers will partner to set up their own businesses there,” says Suarez. “Either serving the needs of increasing numbers of workers and businesses in space, marketing services to Earth, or launching asteroid mining startups themselves.”
All in all, it’s starting to sound a damn sight more beneficial to the human race than the internet economy is. Not a moment too soon. I’ve written encouragingly about asteroid mining several times before, each time touting the massive potential wealth that seems likely to be made. And each time there’s been a sense of disquiet among my readers, a sense that we’re taking our rapacious capitalist ways and exploiting space.
Whereas the truth is, this is exactly the version of capitalism humanity has needed all along: the kind where there is no ecosystem to destroy, no marginalized group to make miserable. A safe, dead space where capitalism’s most enthusiastic pioneers can go nuts to their hearts’ content, so long as they clean up their space junk.
(Space junk is a real problem in orbital space because it has thousands of vulnerable satellites clustered closely together around our little blue rock. The vast emptiness of cislunar space, not so much.)
And because they’re up there making all the wealth on their commodities market, we down here on Earth can certainly afford to focus less on growing our stock market. Maybe even, whisper it low, we can afford a fully functioning social safety net, plus free healthcare and free education for everyone on the planet.
It’s also clearly the area where we should have focused space exploration all along. If we settle on Mars, we may disturb as-yet-undiscovered native bacteria — and as the character Nathan Joyce shouts at a group of “Mars-obsessed” entrepreneurs in Delta-V, Mars is basically filled with toxic sand and is thus looking increasingly impossible to colonize. (Sorry, Mark Watney from The Martian, those potatoes would probably kill you.)
Interstellar colonization, as we’ve already noted, is out. Cislunar space and near-Earth asteroids are where it’s at. And it’s almost certainly where you’re at.
Hope you’re having a blast up there, and that you’re inspired to come up with new geek dreams that we, down in the gravity well of the past, cannot even begin to imagine.
Yours in diamond-encrusted hope,