Mining has been something that man has done for many, many centuries. We started mining on the Earth looking for different minerals and ores. Coal, oil and diamonds were the most popular things our planet had to offer. However the supply was not limitless and when man ventured into space he looked at what the rest of the Solar System had to offer.
The Moon was the first place he looked to. When the first Moon base was built it wasn't long until mining began on the Moon. After the first Mars landing at the end of the 21st century, Mars followed and after that the asteroid belt. The moons of the outer planets are also being mined and Mercury is next on the list with enough iron to satisfy miners for 6,500 million years! However man has found somewhere else to mine and what he is mining is completely different this time. It's comets.
The Oort cloud about six million, million comets and they are much more useful than was at first thought. Comets, are in every sense, not much more than dirty snowballs but this is in fact precisely the point. The crust of a comet is dust and rock but the nucleus is ice and outside is ice. Ice is frozen water and water is the most valuable substance in the Universe.
Water can be split to provide oxygen, which can be used, for colonies and spaceships and space stations. Water can also be used to provide all liquid needs. However, more ambitious ideas are also being thought up. Crashing comets into Mars will in time increase it's atmospheric density and irrigate the planets making Mars one day a world that can be lived on without the aid of space suits. Also incredible as it may sound, the same idea could be used for Venus.
Although crashing a comet into it's surface wouldn't work since it would evaporate being reaching the surface, if bacteria were dropped into the atmosphere to eat away at the carbon dioxide and release oxygen then comets would be the next step and would provide the water for 'the big rain'.
Although the singularities are circling, it is nice to know there is no shortage of suggestions.
Life in the Oort cloud will be quite a different style for the miners. Since the Oort cloud is half way to the nearest star, the journey will take several years. This means visits home would be impossible and even transmissions home would take about two years each way. Since it is outside the Solar System the Solar speed limit of 4 million miles per hour can be exceeded. The comets are not on the big side. Halley's Comet for example has a nucleus that is only 10 miles (16 kilometres) from end to end. Setting up a base on a comet wouldn't be very viable.
A space station would be the best option and once the comets near it are mapped and their trajectories calculated a space station could probably sit quite comfortably there. They even want the Mars and outer planets trading post to set up a base there. A space station does pose one big problem and that is building it.
Getting shipments of the materials to build a space station is impossible and so the Oort Cloud miners have come up with another solution. They have built a spaceship called the Titanic. This spaceship has been given its name due to its truly Titanic size. It is the largest spaceship ever built and could fit a fleet inside one small part of it. This ship is flying with the Oort Cloud miners to the Oort Cloud and will serve as a space station since it contains everything needed for living in the Oort Cloud.
It is known to be a bit of a labyrinth inside the Titanic and would take ages to explore it all. There's an unconfirmed rumour that there are still three engineers lost somewhere in the colossal ship.
One big question that is being asked is 'Why the Oort?'. It is true that the Kuiper Belt is much nearer and has much of what the Oort Cloud has to offer and therefore would be much easier. We don't quite know the answers but the most popular solution is they are doing the same thing the Arecibo radio observatory did in 1974 when it sent a message to M13, 25,000 light years away even though M13 wont be there in 25,000 years. Arecibo sent the message to say 'we can do this, we can send a message this far' and this is what is believed the Oort Cloud miners are trying to say. 'We can do this, we can mine light years from Earth'.
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