That noise you hear is millions of scifi nerds squeeing in unison. The startup Planetary Resources has announced its mission to investigate and mine resources from asteroids in space. While the fact that fricking asteroid mining is theoretically possible is awesome on its own, I really like their big picture view of the project:

“This is an attempt to make a permanent foothold in space,” he said. “We’re going to enable this piece of human exploration and the settlement of space, and develop the resources that are out there.”

…”The investors aren’t making decisions based on a business plan or a return on investment,” he told me. “They’re basing their decisions on our vision.”

I love it. Sure, some of the investors probably aren’t totally selfless. They’d be down to invest in vanadium if given the chance, and that’s fair enough. However, some of them must be inspired by something else, and I can believe that they are. I mean, just imagine if you went down in history books as being one of the first people made a new era of space exploration possible. But I love that some people aren’t just motivated by profit, and they see the inherent worth of settling space. I’m just jealous that I don’t get to live forever and see how this plays out.

I highly recommend you check out the rest of Phil Plait’s coverage. He breaks down the steps of their plan and explains the feasibility of the project. It’s really fascinating stuff.