This artwork was commissioned by Australian Geographic and featured in their July/August edition.
"After a slow start in the 21st century, the exploitation of the vast mineral resources of the asteroids began wholesale and a commercial race to claim the most valuable was engaged.
Only the largest nations had the ability to directly access space commercially, and so large multinational consortiums formed around China and the USA in the construction of large mining and prospecting vehicles to be sent to the nearest asteroids.
The most advanced and longest serving of these vessels is the crewed CNSA Nanking, a huge vehicle constructed in earth orbit with components and expertise from over half a dozen nations and bankrolled by PRC mining interests. The Nanking carries supplies for a small crew to survive for months or years in space and carries equipment enabling it to produce many of its essential resources from materials collected from the asteroids it prospects.
Along with a complete internal geophysical, chemical and nuclear analysis laboratory for assessing samples, the Nanking carries two mobile pods which can approach asteroids to take samples, lay anchor lines, and perform maintenance on the Nanking herself.
When an asteroid is discovered that may be worth exploiting, the Nanking lowers one of several modular analysis units to the surface. These bond to the outer rock or dust and begin to mechanically, chemically and thermally bore a sample shaft into the rock to ensure the mineral content is present in commercial concentrations: This process may be completed several times on a single asteroid to be certain of its viability.
Should the asteroid prove a strike, a claim is lodged with an international register and the Nanking begins construction of the first stages of mining infrastructure. This will later be completed by more specialised automated vessels, which home in on a transponder left by the Nanking."