Submitted by acohill on Thu, 05/05/2005 - 10:54
Space Exploration Technologies, Inc., or SpaceX, has received a $100 million dollar Air Force contract to build and supply launch vehicles for the Defense Department. This could be a breakthrough for the emerging Space Economy, as the Department of Defense had apparently decided it can't keep all its launch eggs in the costly technology of the sixties (traditional booster rockets) and the now thirty year old Space Shuttle.
This could play out like some other hard to fund from the private sector projects that explode once government steps in and puts money on the table. The funding for SpaceX will likely attract venture capital to both SpaceX and to other fledgling space vehicle companies. The competition will keep innovation high and prices low, and will open space to nongovernment activities like tourism, although the FAA is meddling already with Virgin Galactic's plans to use new designs from Bert Rutan's Scaled Composites, which won the X Prize last year. The FAA is determined to make sure that space tourists know that space flight is "dangerous." Unless you have lived under a rock for the past thirty years, I don't think that needs a lot of explaining.
Most of the Wright Brother's early test pilots died in crashes, as did many others anxious for a joy ride in the new flying machines. If the FAA had been around then, the Wright Brothers never would have been able to cut through the red tape that would have been required for the Kitty Hawk flights, and we'd still be taking steamships across the ocean because flying through the air is "dangerous."
Keep an eye on the Space Economy. As it unfolds over the next thirty years, it will dwarf any previous economic boom in history, and make the dot-com bubble look like a an awfully small bubble.
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