by Max Barry

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Lunar Deep Space Industries.

With the excessive exploitation by developed countries, there is a obvious growing problem that key elements needed for modern industry, could be exhausted on this world within fifty or sixty years from now.

In response, it has been suggested that valuable and critical elements from asteroids may be mined and sent back down to the surface for profit, this idea has been floating around for decades and soon Lunar Deep Space Mining Industries was formed.

Lunar Deep Space Mining Industries, often referred to as Deep Space Industries or just Lunar Industries, is a massive goverment-held multi-billion worth industry. They are the nation's first and only asteroid-mining firm offering general utility commercial space services, including space-based refueling, alternative energy, asteroid processing, and manufacturing.

The company was officially formed on June 18, 2012 and currently has over sixteen active spacecraft designed to search for and mine suitable asteroids, and another twelve pending construction. Lunar Industries is also responsible for the construction of large communications platforms and space solar power satellites. Long-term plans envision the development of space colonies and vehicles from asteroid material.

Lunar Industries send locally produced single-stage-to-orbit reusable vehicles and other specialized equipment into New Odessa's orbit then select a suitable asteroid and begin the process of mining it. Even the smallest asteroid harbors over sixty billion worth of recoverable water which is reconstituted into hydrogen and oxygen, and thus used in propellant depots supplying interplanetary spacecraft, and approximately thirty billion in precious metals such as the platinum-group metals which is brought back down for further processing and sale.

Lunar Industries also operates mining operations on one of New Odessa's moons where frozen water in the dark recesses of polar craters is harvested, which is split into hydrogen for rocket fuel and oxygen which then can be used for the next generation of space exploration and military vessels. Also Helium-3 (He-3), is found in abundance on the Moon. He-3 can be used as a valuable alternative energy source. Greatly pleasing the Tyrannian government and other investors.

The mining operations require very special and sensitive (not to mention expensive) equipment to handle the extraction and processing of resources in outer space. The machinery is anchored to the body of an asteroid, but once in place, the resources once mined are moved about more easily due to the lack of gravity. Docking with an asteroid is currently performed using a harpoon-like process, penetrating the target asteroids surface to serve as an anchor then an attached cable is used to winch the vehicle to the surface, if the asteroid is rigid enough for a harpoon to be effective. If not another more direct way involves simply clamping onto the asteroids surface and then begin drilling into it.

Due to the often far distance from this planet to an asteroid selected for mining, the round-trip time for communications is several minutes or more, except during the mining of near-planet asteroids. Thus a lot of the mining equipment is highly automated but of course a human presence is often needed for some jobs like troubleshooting problems and for maintaining the equipment.