According to Fortune, the only thing holding humanity back from exploiting the resources floating in space is not a shortage of know-how, technology, or an understanding of its obvious economic, scientific and environmental benefits, but simply a lack of realisation that building self-replicating space-based industries is a realistic feat achievable right now.
[...] He projects that only 12 tons of initial assets on the Moon could build themselves out into 150 tons of equipment (close to the amount that has been deemed necessary for a lunar colony) using local resources.
In its early stages, the SRSI would build structures from mined metal and produce propellant from water. Eventually, those structures would house manufacturing facilities to produce equipment for further exploration. As Metzger points out, the most easily and thoroughly automated industries on Earth today are also those most necessary for space development – the manufacturing of electronics, transportation equipment, and machinery. Several factories on Earth already operate with zero human supervision.
Reaching self-sufficiency through a combination of bootstrapping and equipment from Earth could take “only a few decades given adequate funding.” [...]
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