Space Commercialization

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time lately talking with reporters about the commercialization of space, e.g. tourism, exploration and businesses such as mining.  Kind of interesting to see this surge in interest from business and popular press, not sure what’s driving it.  Maybe the success of Space X and the impending Virgin Galactic flights, or the on going political battles in the US as Congress directs NASA to focus on manned missions to the moon and Mars and not on asteroid capture.

Thought I’d share here some of the reasons that commercialization will be successful and some of the issues that need to be addressed.  One, we have very successful (rich) people that are innovators in their fields (Musk, Bezos, Allen) all interested in space and willing to take the financial risks associated with these types of projects.  The technologies  needed to make these missions work are available and not limited to governments, NASA is redefining itself and open to partnering with private ventures.  Google is underwriting the Lunar X Prize to send a robot to the moon, we can expect a successful mission to be followed by a human launch.

During the space race of the 60’s we missed an important question about what happened after we reached the moon, “what next?”  The space shuttle was built not to explore but for assembly of the ISS and earth orbit, there was no mission/objective to catch the public’s interest. And we know the public is interested,  just look at the response to the Mars robotics missions.

The private business involvement can actually help expanding our reach in space by handling the support/sustaining missions and allowing NASA to focus on exploration and long term plans.

 

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