From a Vice piece asking when we’ll live on Mars:
It’s an impressive vision on its own, as cutting out Earth-to-orbit shipping is a major step towards cutting costs for space travel. But if you put their visions together, Moon Express and Made in Space shed light on the steps we need to take to actually build Moon factories and Mars bases. Moon Express hopes to be able to process resources on site (on whatever planet that might be), while Made in Space hopes to develop and ship entire automated manufacturing facilities to foreign worlds. Oh, and they’ll ideally self-replicate, too.
The two companies remain independent in their goals, other startups might find more success, and yes, we’re still a couple decades out for the grand concept here. But the two are illustrative of just how the future may play out: Companies mining the Moon for resources will deliver those goods to off-world manufacturers to build the basic infrastructure for incoming space colonists. It’s indicative of just how compelling the space startup world is right now, and the even crazier thing is that, for as out there as the vision is, there’s no shortage of entrepreneurs and investors who believe that it can all actually happen.
I can’t even begin to comprehend all the details that needs to be sorted out before Mars, or any other planetary body of rock, is within our reach for colonization. Such attention to detail is needed here that it’s staggering, and yet we’re getting closer every day. I just hope I’ll live to see it.