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What in particular makes “factories in orbit” seem implausible? We’ve already got/had a limited one of those in the form of the 3D printer on the space station.

Sure, fully automated mining, refining, QA, etc. isn’t ready yet, but it’s not implausible, and those things are all still increasingly automated even down here on Earth.

That's right. Iteration is key. Start small here on Earth, then build a somewhat crude factory in space. Solve any unexpected challenges that may arise, rinse, and repeat. Eventually you'll have factory-producing factories.

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