The great explorers did not embark on their best-known voyages in pursuit of glory alone. They did not set sail into the unknown to advance the sum of human knowledge or to restore the bonds of human fraternity that politics had torn asunder. They went in pursuit of profit.
Henry Hudson. Ferdinand Magellan. Marco Polo. Christopher Columbus. All launched their missions to distant lands to discover lucrative trade routes, and their expeditions were commissioned by well-heeled sponsors who were engaged in intense competition with their peers. Many of the world’s greatest cities were first founded as remote colonial trading posts. Singapore, Syracuse, Quebec, and New York City; all were once far-flung and sparsely populated outposts established only to exploit and export local resources. When humanity begins to regularly venture beyond Earth’s orbit, it will not be for the benefit of science or international comity. It will be to lay claim to the abundant resources orbiting the sun and to exploit them for money.