What Space Exploration Is Really All About

What was it that the early European explorers came to the Americas for? Was it for the unknown? To seek out new life and new civilization? To boldly go where no man had gone before?


They came for resources. For gold, for furs, for land. They wanted to get rich and make their countries rich. And that’s what’s really going to drive the move to space as well.

This article, from Observer, notes a NASA announcement of the discovery that the Asteroid 16 Psyche, might be composed totally of nickle and iron. Given the asteroid is the size of West Virginia, they calculate the value of the metals at $10,000 Quadrillion or 10,000 times the size of the global economy.

Now the cost to recover those materials must be included in determining their absolute worth. The costs to either mine the asteroid and bring its materials to earth or to move the entire asteroid somewhere closer to earth and then extract the materials are staggering, likely exceeding the value of the metals.

But that’s using current technologies and space infrastructure. Viking longships and Norse nautical infrastructure, while adequate for exploration, were insufficient to exploit the Americas. Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, English and French maritime infrastructure and technologies from the 15th to 17th centuries were more than up to the task.

Consider the likelihood 16 Psyche is unique and/or not 100% nickle and iron. 16 Psyche is likely not 100% nickel iron but it is also unlikely it is the only asteroid of its type given the number of asteroids in the solar system and our level of knowledge about them. Smaller asteroids may be more advantageously placed or otherwise easier to exploit.

The riches of the Solar System are waiting to be taken, and they are vast. The incentive is there. Someone will figure out how to do it.