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The SPS Program was a big, brash and bold concept, the kind of dream that could only have come out of the 1970's. A 30 year long program to build a fleet of solar power satellites, 60 in total, each one the size of Manhattan island. A unique partnership between humans and automation would be required. SPS called for the development of enormous heavy lift launch vehicles and orbital transfer craft, space habitats for construction crews and support personnel. Thousands of people, living and working at GEO, would build the satellites. In addition to construction workers, personnel needed in space would include physicians, administrators, OTV pilots, life support engineers, general maintenance workers, cooks, space suit tailors, and computer technicians. Personnel needed on the ground - at the launch/landing site, at the rectennas, and at widely scattered factories for manufacturing SPS parts, OTVs, spares, foodstuffs, and propellants - would outnumber astronauts by at least 10 to 1, NASA and DOE estimated. Building and operating the SPSs could become a major new U.S. industry.



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Water ice in large quantities would supply future colonies with atmospheric gases, potable water, a source of propellants. Kicking off industry on Mars, water ice can be mined, heated, and filtered, solar or nuclear powered cracking plants use electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Building the colonial infrastructure will simultaneously build an economy.

h/t +Troy Campbell
This really good news for SpaceX's potential Mars colony.

Subsurface ice, even hydrated salts close to the equator are a massive boost for any future colonisation plans. Abundant solar power and less fuel required / more cargo available shave billions off of the cost.

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"Lava tubes are found in many volcanic areas on Earth, including Lanzarote, Hawaii, Iceland, North Queensland in Australia, Sicily and the Galapagos islands. Underground networks of tubes can reach up to 65 kilometres. Space missions have also observed chains of collapsed pits and ‘skylights’ on the Moon and Mars that have been interpreted as evidence of lava tubes. Recently the NASA GRAIL mission provided detailed gravity data for the Moon that suggested the presence of enormous subsurface voids related to lava tubes below the lunar ‘Maria’, plains of basalt formed in volcanic eruptions early in the Moon’s history."

Filed under: Colony sites.
Source: Europlanet Media Centre
Lava tubes, underground caves created by volcanic activity, could provide protected habitats large enough to house streets on Mars or even towns on the Moon, according to research presented at the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2017 in Riga. A further study shows how the next generation of lunar orbiters will be able to use radar to locate these structures under the Moon’s surface.

Lava tubes can form in two ways: ‘overcrusted’ tubes form when low-viscosity lava flows fairly close to the surface, developing a hard crust that thickens to create a roof above the moving lava stream. When the eruptions end, the conduit is drained leaving a tunnel a few metres beneath the surface. ‘Inflated’ tubes are complex and deep structures that form when lava is injected into existing fissures between layers of rock or cavities from previous flows. The lava expands and leaves a huge network of connected galleries as it forces its way to the surface. Lava tubes are found in many volcanic areas on Earth, including Lanzarote, Hawaii, Iceland, North Queensland in Australia, Sicily and the Galapagos islands. Underground networks of tubes can reach up to 65 kilometres. Space missions have also observed chains of collapsed pits and ‘skylights’ on the Moon and Mars that have been interpreted as evidence of lava tubes. Recently the NASA GRAIL mission provided detailed gravity data for the Moon that suggested the presence of enormous subsurface voids related to lava tubes below the lunar ‘Maria’, plains of basalt formed in volcanic eruptions early in the Moon’s history.

Now, researchers from the University of Padova and the University of Bologna in Italy have carried out the first systematic comparison of lava tube candidates on the Earth, Moon and Mars, based on high-resolution Digital Terrain Models (DTM) created from data from spacecraft instrumentation.

bibliographic information
European Planetary Science Congress 2017 Abstract: 'Morphometric comparison and genetic implications of terrestrial, lunar and martian lava tubes.' F. Sauro (1), R. Pozzobon (2) P. De Bernardinis (1) M. Massironi (2) and J. De Waele (1)
(1) Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, Italian Institute of Speleology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy, (2) Department of Geosciences, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC2017/EPSC2017-584.pdf

European Planetary Science Congress 2017 Abstract: 'Detection of Lunar Lava Tubes with Orbiting Radar Sounder Systems.' L. Carrer, C. Gerekos and L. Bruzzone, Department of Information Engineering and Computer Science, University of Trento, Italy.
http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EPSC2017/EPSC2017-290.pdf

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I'm looking forward to Elon's presentation this Friday. When I conceived of a private effort to settle Mars some ten years ago and made this central to my System States world building project I really had no idea I would see a serious effort within my lifetime.
Elon Musk‏ @elonmusk
- Presentation of @SpaceX Interplanetary Spaceship & Rocket design from 2016
- Major improvements & some unexpected applications to be unveiled on Friday at @IAC2017 in Australia

http://www.iac2017.org/

Mr. musk is scheduled to speak at 2:00 PM Friday Sept. 29.
It will be live streamed. (I'm not sure exactly where but possibly here https://www.youtube.com/user/iafastro )
(5:30 AM GMT, 12:30 AM EDT)

Below is last year.

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In some sense he shall never truly be gone: for I have dived into suns at the helm of MacArthur, and explored an alien star system with Kevin Renner and fallen out of orbit over Mote Prime with Staley, Whitbread and Potter, and hunted the Mote threat alongside his Excellency Horace Bury in the worlds beyond the Coalsack. I rode atomic fire into orbit with Harry Reddington to battle the Fithp, and I've built a glider with Benito Mussolini in the swamps outside the blazing walls of Dis in a mad attempt to escape over the walls of Hell ... Jerry will be missed, and he will be remembered, and in some small way he will live on in the stories that have brought such magic to our lives.

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I've known about this site for a number of years and reference it often in my Orion's Arm future history setting. +Winchell Chung's recent asteroid mining post reminded me that it needs be added to this collection.

Asterank is a scientific and economic database of over 600,000 asteroids.

We've collected, computed, or inferred important data such as asteroid mass and composition from multiple scientific sources. With this information, we estimate the costs and rewards of mining asteroids.

Details on orbits and basic physical parameters are sourced from the Minor Planet Center and NASA JPL. Composition data is based on spectral classification and size. Our calculations incorporate conclusions from multiple scientific publications in addition to cross-referencing known meteorite data.

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