The Asteroid Belt is what remains of our Solar System’s beginnings, about 5 billion years ago.
All astronomers are fascinated by these rocks, which have dimensions between minuscule fragmets to hundreds of kilometers of diameter, like Ceres, with a diameter of 1000 kilometers. The keys for understanding how the planets appeared around the Sun are contained in these orbiting boulders. (http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/asteroids/indepth)
While scientists are interested by the asteroids, because they are the remnants of the origins of our Solar System, others, the Entrepreneurs, dream about the ores contained in them. (http://www.bloombergview.com/quicktake/space-mining)
They are, let’s bet it, the wannabe space miners of tomorrow.
In a not so distant future, when Humanity will have a cheaper acess to space, especially with reusable rockets (like the ones SpaceX, in the USA, is experimenting), the Solar System’s resources will be opened to the human colonists
With materials extracted from these celestial bodies, space colonists would have what is needed to build immense space stations able to receive big populations. These materials will not only be ores like iron, copper, but also silicates, water, and even precious metals like gold and platinum, in much greater quantities than on Earth.
A Short Science Fiction Story related to this subject
Space miners, like in the Short Story SPACE PEOPLE, will roam through the Asteroid Belt, loolking for the ones having the most precious ores. The question is, will there be, one day, a harsh concurrence for exploiting these resources?
A great question – and it’s more complicated when self-replicating machines come into the balance…