Obligatory comment referencing the expense of mining on the moon. Question concerning the ratio of return to investment. Acerbic comment pointing out how far we are from solving this barrier. Another acerbic comment to the effect that exploiting an asteroid would be easier.
HK-47, what are you doing here?
Anyway, I'd say once the substantial
initial investments are put in, the actual operating cost wouldn't be all that great (for a space project). For one, it takes a lot less energy to bring something from
the Moon than to send it there from Earth. Being a one-way trip, the average mining shipment may very well be just a giant rock, propelled by a variety of possible means, including some fuel-less ones, and ultimately apprehended at an Earth-orbit processing facility.
Furthermore, the currently prohibitive price of space exploration has less to do with the actual technology being expensive on its own, but with the fact that most satellites and science craft have to be custom-made, and fit with very
sensitive equipment. By comparison, an automated heavy-lift rocket costs a pittance
, with the price going even further down once mass production is established. Technology-wise such a project could've been completed in the 70's
, if there was a practical need of it.
As for using an asteroid, the difficulty lies in adapting to its own orbit. Unless it can be somehow trapped at one of the Earth-Moon Lagrange points, every delivery will have to be recalculated, not to mention the overall distance itself being much