Space exploration accelerates now after decades of boringly intermittent progress, driven by private corporations setting up new industrial business lines. SpaceX and Virgin Galactic show us brilliant successes and dramatic catastrophes as they race to commercialize space and to make a lot of money from it. Boeing leads the race to provide new commercial crew transport systems for the International Space Station. Specialized space companies also proliferate to support, supply and service these efforts.
The serious side of space commercialization focuses on industrialization and manufacturing. The idea is to make stuff in space from other stuff we find there, and then sell it to folks back on Earth. Deep space is where the raw materials are to be found and where the mines and factories will be built. “Deep Space” spans the volumes above near-Earth orbits and reaches out to the edge of Jovian interplanetary space. It includes the Moon, Mars and the Asteroid Belt.
Space exploration and development will become increasingly automated and