I guess I partially agree that having other things we want to do in space is prerequisite, but imagine the kinds of things we could do and build if we had unlimited raw materials already in orbit, or on the moon. Remember, mining water is a big part of this, not just what we tend to imagine with earth mining.
Fun fact: the manufacturing industry has been able to obtain machine utilization at nearly 100%. Mining is in the 40% range.
No one will care about using destructive tactics on an asteroid, freeing everyone’s hand to not be gentle. On the other hand, much of what gets mined in space will need to stay in space. After all, what would happen, if three times the mass of planet earth were mined into managable resources? To add as much to earth’s surface would augment orbit and rotation for starters. Even bringing such mass near earth would wreak havoc on ocean tides.
It will take a long time before we have mined enough mass to worry about things like tides.
Space might be the only place we can make heavy industries start to behave similar to software.
A significant part of the world’s GDP is in mining and mining and its subsidiary industries (manufacturing for example could not exist without mining) contributes something like 60-70% of the world’s GDP.
We do not have vast excess supply. There are likely many deposits left to be found but it’s widely accepted that the easy resources have been found and we must go deeper to find more. Exploration over the last couple of years has not been invested in and the trove of known resources has been dwindling.
Mining space is impractical due to costs (there are a lot of cost savings to still be had on Earth).
Source: I work for one of the world’s largest suppliers of mining equipment and am heavily involved in the mining market in Canada and peripherally the rest of the world for hard rock mining.
However, spaceflight is getting cheaper by the year and is heading into a significant phase change related to costs. Soon the market will be dominated by partially reusable rockets. After a generation or two of improvements those reusable rockets will drive launch costs down by at least an order of magnitude if not two compared to today. That will make doing anything in space cheaper, and it's a fair bet that you'll see more organizations "doing stuff" (launching payloads) into space as a consequence (in fact, this is already happening).
Additionally, there are follow-on effects, especially when it comes to manned spaceflight. Take the ISS for example. Because it exists it means there is a call for services for it, such as crew transfers (Soyuz, formerly Shuttle, and soon Dragon/CST-100), resupply (Progress, Dragon, HTV, Antares, etc.), and module delivery. Lower cost launches would translate naturally to more activity in Earth orbit and more call for services, leading to a feedback loop of increasing activity. Within 20 years you'll see not just space stations but orbital towns and maybe even cities, as well as industrial establishments where R&D is performed on-orbit. Imagine how much more effective you could be at designing satellites and spacecraft if you had an on orbit environment that you could as a prototype test environment whenever you wanted to at low cost. All of that translates into orders of magnitude more activity in space at orders of magnitude lower marginal costs.
And in that environment, asteroid mining seems pretty sensible, not for service to Earth's surface but for service to on orbit activities. For one the equipment and infrastructure to exploit such resources will be cheaper to put into space due to lower launch costs, lowering the necessary price-point where profit is possible. For another, the customer base will be large and capable of making use of even bulk materials.
In that world, the world of 10, 20, 30+ years from now, asteroid mining will make sound economic sense. But the time to begin pursuing technology development is not 30 years from now, it's today. Building prototypes, figuring out what's possible, learning the early lessons as early as possible at comparatively low cost will give those operators a huge jump as changes bring their business into viability. Especially so in regard to the legal precedents in terms of laying claim to resources. For something that could easily be a trillion dollar a year, or more, industry in 30 years, that's an excellent RoI.
As robotics and AI technology improves I expect very few humans will be sent into space. We're too expensive to keep alive.
This is still unknown territory, but already we have made significant progress developing routines that reduce bone decalcification on the ISS, and that's with pure microgravity.
Talking about the first orbiting station with 100 or 1,000 people.. these will not be comfortable places. They will be extremely poor destinations for a relaxing vacation. But people should be able to work there sustainably, in rotations, as part of their careers. It's still allowable to call those places towns in the same way people call aircraft carriers cities today.
"Earth first - we'll get to the other ones later"
Their CS program leaves a little to be desired though.
Source: I went there and https://inside.mines.edu/Degrees-Offered
I think it spent way too much time on syntax and minutiae to be a really good introduction. It spent a really brief time talking about compiled instructions, stacks, etc. but not really enough to justify C++, imo. It shoved pointers into a couple days at the end of the semester. A lot of final questions were things like std::string member functions or construct syntax (for, switch).
But you're correct, CS201 and 202 (numbers might be wrong, it's a long time...) were both C++ courses. Intro to Programming and Data Structures. IMO, C++ was appropriate for Data Structures, but perhaps not CS201.
Later, all instruction is more or less in Java, MIPS assembler, or Python. And a little Scheme/Racket.
If this topic interests you, there's a whole category at your local library for Space Law (it's at the end, KZD1002-6715): https://www.loc.gov/aba/cataloging/classification/lcco/lcco_...