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In his iconic science fiction novel Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke describes how humanity first mistakes a large inbound spacecraft for an asteroid and then interacts with the mysterious alien ship. The founders of Made in Space, a small company with big dreams of manufacturing materials in space, are clearly fans of the book, because they have named their latest venture Project RAMA.

Made in Space's plan seems like science fiction as well: the company wants to turn asteroids into spacecraft. No, really, this isn't the latest book from Neal Stephenson. The company is serious—and so, apparently, is NASA. The agency has agreed to pay as much as $100,000 to Made in Space to conduct a feasibility study on the concept. “This definitely is in the category of sci-fi inspired stuff,” agreed Spencer Pitman, head of product strategy, in an interview with Ars. “But it’s guided by a long-term vision of the future, of living and working in space.”

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