In 2004, space exploration by private companies was legalized with the passage of HR5382. Since that time, companies such as Virgin Galactic and SpaceX have invested in vehicles and launch capability with hopes of sending private citizens to space -- for profit -- as well as the ability to transport materials and supplies to the space station and possibly mine asteroids for materials in short supply on earth.

SpaceX experienced a catastrophic launch failure in 2016, with a successful launch and landing in early 2017 -- although docking with the international space station took two tries.
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One company is already planning on future asteroid mining, the reason this would be useful is... [read more]