With the approaching end of NASA's space shuttle program, news media reports have expressed a lot of concern - if not downright angst - about our future in space.
Private industry is being encouraged to take over transportation to low-Earth orbit (LEO) - where the International Space Station is.
Now, the chairman of a Texas energy company says it is time for private industry to take bold steps deeper into the solar system to permanently make us a space-faring species.
WATCH VIDEO: NASA smashes the LCROSS and spent Centaur rocket into the moon in a search for water on the lunar surface.
The first step is to strip mine the moon for invaluable resources. This might send some space environmentalists into conniptions, as it did in 2009 when NASA crashed the a rocket booster into the moon to prospect for water. But the moon is a logical place to extract resources.
"Discovering rich concentrations of hydrogen on the moon would open up a universe of possibilities - literally," wrote William Stone, an aerospace engineer who is chairman of Shackleton Energy Co. in Del Valle, Texas, in the June 2009 IEEE Spectrum magazine.
"For the first time, access to space would be truly economical. At last, people would be able to begin new ventures, including space tourism, space-debris cleanup, satellite refueling, and interplanetary voyages."