The new era of space mining is the topic of my latest article for Scientific American. The recent passage of the Space Act of 2015 by Congress will finally eliminate a lot of uncertainty for this nascent industry, assuming President Obama signs it into law. Given the enormous cost of lifting materials and supplies into orbit and beyond, the ability to draw from off-planet resources is critical for the continuing development of space exploration and colonization. As Eric Anderson, co-founder and co-chairman of Planetary Resources stated following Congressional passage of the Act:
“Many years from now, we will view this pivotal moment in time as a major step toward humanity becoming a multi-planetary species. This legislation establishes the same supportive framework that created the great economies of history, and it will foster the sustained development of space.”
Given the continuing progress being made by the developing commercial space industry, including yesterday’s first successful VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) by Blue Origin, it seems to me we may be witnessing the start of one of the great transformational periods in human history.