Now that Planetary Resources has unveiled its plans to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new deposits of platinum and water, and to strip-mine them and shuttle them back to secure facilities back on our home planet, I think it’s time to take ask the question we’ve all been wondering:

Just what do Earth’s billionaires think they’re doing?

It’s no longer enough, if you’ve made a fortune in electronics or videogames, to buy yourself a $30 million ticket to ride on the Space Station, as Lord British and Anousheh Ansari have done. Now you’ve got to create your own space-exploration company.

Crazy, yes. But going into space has all the earmarks of a perfect second career for the modern billionaire. It’s amazingly cool and is guaranteed to provoke vast amounts of envy in the hearts of the other billionaires you run into at TED, Davos, and the Bohemian Grove. It’s the sort of hugely ambitious project that is worthy of a man (or woman) with an enormous ego. It costs a whole lot of money, so the barrier to entry is high (that keeps out the riffraff). And done right, it could be massively profitable, maybe even enough to create the world’s first trillionaire. So really, the wonder isn’t that billionaires are doing this, the wonder is that it’s taken them so long.

Full story: Dylan’s Desk: A spaceship is the perfect gift for the billionaire who has everything | VentureBeat.