I think a lot of people are writing out more fictional stories. With asteroid mining I meant that it is now actually plausible with the BFR. I guess I’m talking less about writing speculative fiction, and more about writing pure speculation based on facts about space and existing technology.
I see asteroid mining happening because of BFR’s cost reduction in access to space, pretty easily. The overall process goes as follows:
2020: BFR launches, is proven to work. This causes the true entrepreneurial drive for precious metal asteroid mining projects. Financially shown to be feasible.
2024: exploration missions find excellent candidate near-earth asteroids that are energetically close to earth.
2026: Elon Musk’s humans on Mars timeline was off by one orbital period due to unforeseen issues with safety ratings of BFR. The first humans land on Mars. Several suitable asteroids have been found, but the most suitable one happens to be very rich in several precious metals.
2028: A mining craft, assembled in orbit lands/docks with the asteroid and begins to extract ore. A secondary portion of the project arrives with it - one that refines ore to a point at which it’s 70-90% pure. The craft is designed to take advantage of zero g in terms of allowing for bulk collecting. A lightweight, high-efficiency tool is used: explosives and a net.
2029: after a year of harvesting with additional vessels sent and constructed relatively cheaply thanks to mass production and cheap launch costs of BFR-type rockets, there is a freely floating, 500 metric ton contained store of 80% pure platinum, gold and iridium, stored in large, unpressurized sacks. Total project cost at this point, including development, is about 40 billion dollars. It will cost about 30 million per launch to retrieve it on BFR (refueling). It will retrieve about 1 billion dollars in ore in its cargo bay.
2030: The development of in situ fuel production on Elon Musk’s mars colony is also now used in space to refuel the BFR and larger craft that have now started to seriously phase out the BFR. This is now used to keep transport costs in space low and to make trajectories more easily adjustable.
2032: the first of these mining vessels has now paid for itself. The 2000s become the major fashionable nostalgia decade, and styles are somewhat reflective of this. The inspiration and hope of the 2020s has paved way for yet another materialistic decade in the 2030s with the massive changes that have happened to the economy as a result of improvements to manufacturing, artificial intelligence and the benefits of asteroid mining.
2035: in 2028, the development of in-space manufacturing of mining components began as a project. This year, the first of these completes its manufacture of another vessel, made mostly with in-space resources. Despite advances in rocketry and aerospace technology, airplanes from the 2000s are still used in many ways. Port to port travel is now considered a serious possibility for rockets after developments in reliability were made possible by reuse and manufacture. Larger, and slightly less efficient per kilogram of rest mass than even today, rockets are now nearly as reliable as airplanes, which are still widely in use.
2038: SpaceX is now the largest company in the world. Since it has become easily profitable, it has now gone public and has the worlds highest market cap. Elon Musk is now 64 years old, and also the richest person to ever live in terms of raw purchasing power.
2040: the in-space manufacture of habitats continues to decline in price. The zero gravity environment coupled with finding the necessary resources in space has made making megastructures a relatively routine thing. A.I. has now hit a tipping point and plays a major role in everyday life. The price of precious metals has dropped tenfold, but the increases in efficiency, the in-space manufacture of mining equipment and even lower launch costs thanks to improvements in manufacturing technology means that it remains a highly profitable business. Soil is produced in space, habitats are produced in space. Now a few hundred thousand people live in space and make their living there. Space habitats are aesthetically pleasing and the enclosed environment allows for the creation of very unique living quarters. Because fuel in space is so cheap and mass produced, these in-space habitats can travel throughout the solar system, though many remain fixed due to their economic function. Most stations have the ability to transport themselves and act as large vessels for the sake of versatility.
The age of space colonization is upons, so much so that it is time to start looking at how you can shape your career to take advantage of this new economic development, mainly if you’re in the STEM area. So, you might go into manufacturing so that when we’re doing space manufacturing, you might land a much higher paying job.