While we as a community love exploring space, we also recognize it can be expensive. Launch costs, manufacturing and keeping a mission going all take money, which is why NASA (for example) runs reviews every couple of years to figure out which ongoing missions are providing the best return.
Planetary Resources — one of the companies that wants to mine asteroids, and is searching for them with NASA — has produced a new video envisioning a solution to that problem: harvesting fuel from asteroids. Leaving the legal concerns aside, the company points out this could be a way of better opening up exploration of the solar system.
“In space one resource above all others is extraordinarily expensive and without cheap access to it, growth is limited…FUEL,” Planetary Resources wrote. “The catalyst for rapid expansion into every frontier in history has been access to cheap, local resources. And in space, access to rocket fuel is currently neither cheap, nor local.
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“But on asteroids,” it continued, “abundant quantities of hydrogen and oxygen can be used to create rocket fuel, the same stuff used by the space shuttle. This allows companies like Vivisat fuel spacetugs that will be used to keep satellites in their Geostationary slots, or fuel up your spacecraft before zooming off to Mars. The possibilities are endless!”