Space. The final frontier- and a gold mine. Billions, no trillions, await the organization which invests in extracting resources from astroids, moons and planets. It’s really not as intimidating as it sounds though. Drone technology is advancing everyday, as is private space travel. By the time personell can be transported in a timely manner to a space station in the astroid belt or by a Jovian planet, which they could operate extraction drones from, the technology will be there. The idea is as far fetched now, as sending a man to the moon was near the end of the Great Depression. In other words, if we pursue the goal of building extra-planetary resource extraction and shipping infrastructre, we could see companies operating in space regularly inside thirty or forty years.
The greatest obstacle to this is legally. Under international law, no country may claim any object in space. However, why not take the view of this that the framers of the Democratic system would have? In John Locke’s two treatises of government, Mr. Locke states that all resources are within the commons. The oceans are the best example of the commons- no one owns the world’s fish. However, when an individual adds his labor to a resource, that resource becomes his until such time as he can no longer make use of it, at which point he sells it to someone who can for a profit. This logic could be applied to the Kuiper belt within the existing philosophical framework. No one owns astroid 55A. But, when Virgin Galactic or SpaceX extracts iron by drone, they own that and it can be sold to a 3-D printing company to be processed into consumer goods. In theory, no treaty even need be revisited- companies need only respect mining claims and the ban on weapons in space.
The virtue required to bring about this future is sacrifice. Space technology is dangerous, so accidents will happen and people who have families or advanced educations will die in those accidents- no matter how many safety checks, precautions or redundency systems are in place. People with educations and families die every day though in car accidents and plane crashes. What if caution had informed Spanish sea exploration policy in 1492 or American space policy in 1969 as opposed to discovery? The risks are worth it. As more raw materials reached 3-D printers, prices would further drop and companies would have more of an ability (and motivation) to design better products. Larger space stations closer to Earth might be used as arenas for new sports which could only be played in zero gravity or as resorts. Maybe there would even be a PGA tour on the moon-we already know that golf can be played there from the Apollo program.