Since we first discussed the Space Boom, a number of major milestones in the development towards an expanded space economy took place: SpaceX successful landed the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket and announced plans to nearly double production of Falcon rocket cores by the end of the year. NASA received mandate from Congress to build a Deep Space Habitat by 2018 to explore cislunar space. The US Air Force put out an order for a new generation GPS satellites, while private companies moved toward more ambitious efforts to provide satellite internet to the world. In Europe, the ESA announced a plan to open their Global Lunar Village program to American private companies. All of these events are a clear indication that the industry is beginning to pivot to take advantage of the opportunities in cislunar space; the region of space beyond Low Earth Orbit, on the Moon, and Near Earth Asteroids. These are the first steps on the road to Mars, and the Space Boom.
Funding for activities in Cislunar space by NASA, the Air Force, and the private sector represents the first investments in a region of space that offers the greatest near-term benefits to the global economy and the national interest of the United States. As more hardware is positioned in Earth orbit for telecommunications, global surveying and surveillance, more complex support systems will be needed to maintain all that new hardware. Those support systems will likely include refueling and maintenance satellites, which will in turn need to be maintained by human crews. Moreover, this is where space mining operations like those under development at Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries are essential, because their first goal is to access water; a critical element in life-support systems, and a means of producing spacecraft propellant. Space mining in its earliest phases would exist to support the expansion of satellite networks to meet the new demands of communications and security. Finally, the Deep Space Habitat will help address the challenge of how humans actually get to those new frontiers in cislunar space. The Deep Space Habitat is being built to explore Cislunar Space, but more importantly it would be a proof-of-concept for transferring crews from Earth Orbit to asteroids or lunar orbit. The Deep Space Habitat would be a space-tug, a workhorse spaceship that would make it cheaper and easier to move people and materials around cislunar space for exploration and commercial activities. The investments made by NASA in the Deep Space Habitat punctuate the industry-wide movement to take advantage of the opportunities in cislunar space, but there is one final challenge that needs to be addressed for it all to come together.
RedWorks fills the final role in this new space economy by providing the construction toolkit to build habitats and infrastructure on-site. These habitats will reduce the cost to operate space mining, and by extension the overhead costs for satellite refueling, and therefore the cost of an expanded satellite network and spacecraft like the Deep Space Habitat. Consider how habitats and infrastructure built using RedWorks’ technologies would accelerate the growth of space mining programs and give new companies the chance to take advantage of cislunar space. Additionally, cislunar mining operations would provide more than fuel for satellites, or water and air for astronauts; they would open up new sources for important resources. Elements like tungsten, gold, platinum, or Rare Earth Elements could be accessed in quantities far beyond what has ever been available Earth. The unique environment of space also allows for industrial processes that either cannot be readily reproduced or are too hazardous to be responsibly used on Earth. Habitats and infrastructure built from on-site materials in cislunar space will provide the mining camps, the refineries, and the factories to turn space-based resources into goods for in-space consumption and products for use on Earth. Advanced products made in space, in facilities built using RedWorks In-situ construction technology would expand the space economy beyond any current projections.
There are countless opportunities available in cislunar space, and the rush to take advantage of them will be the first stage of the Space Boom, and humanity’s colonization of the Solar System.