I'd like to see automated mining of the moon. If we can use mirrors to make a solar powered smelter to break down moon rocks to extract raw metals, if we can make an automated robot producing factory that, given pre-supplied chips and other light weight components, can turn out new robots made mostly out of locally supplied materials, and if those robots can then be used to construct more solar smelters and robot factories and mine more rock, then we have the basis for an off-world economy.
Whatever the good intentions, or scientific reasons, or national pride, I don't think we are going to see a self-sustaining off-world presence until such time as it can be made economically feasable.
Possibly a buckywire /BeanStalk? might help reduce costs, but there still needs to be a big incentive to spend the resources. Like one of those space elevators? -ColinLeung
Same thing, different name. Same technology too - nanotubes are bucky wires. --Vitenka