One of the sponsors and exhibitors at yesterday's Space Expo 2007 in Connecticut was Space Island Group, a commercial company "dedicated to the development of commerce, research, manufacturing, and tourism in space." Sounds good to me - I was surprised I hadn't heard of them before, and that they were not (as far as I could tell) present at ISDC 2007, where there was a special forum on the financing of space ventures as well as a lot of private space activity.
Space Island Group is talking about building solar power satellites in the near future, and they say they have some things going with China and India to pursue this. I heard the figure $2 billion bandied about. Their promotional handout talks about "20,000 jobs in Earth orbit by 2020." They are also big on using to-be-developed shuttle ET- and SSME-derived heavy lift launch vehicles (different from NASA's Ares V and the DIRECT proposal, as far as I can tell), and on using the empty external tanks to build various structures in Earth orbit.
I'd like to find out more about Space Island Group (the president and CEO, Gene Meyers, was at Space Expo, and I met him very briefly just as I was leaving - I was quite busy with Orbiter "flight instruction" and didn't have much time for the other exhibits, alas). It would be great if solar power satellites could be developed and commercialized over the next 15 years. Does anyone know anything about their plans and partners?
The picture here (space station built from shuttle external tanks) is from an Orbiter add-on, not one of the many cool graphics on Space Island Group's web site.