The space race heats up again. Commercialization drives this new cycle, fueled by privatization of governmental space projects. Visionaries see vast economic potentials and corporate leaders map out new economic strategies and markets.
Space commercialization ventures may take on any number of forms. Various business models propose to transport passengers, to resupply space stations, to collect space junk, to divert near-Earth asteroid threats, to mine asteroids and the Moon, to colonize the Moon and Mars, to manufacture goods in low-gravity, to construct space-based military defenses, to generate power in space for Earth consumption, to expand communications and information processing, and to explore space further.
The Austin Chamber of Commerce recently launched an exciting public discussion to attract space commercialization ventures to its city. Additionally, the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business launched a Master of Science Program in Space Technology Commercialization this year. Companies already locating resources to Austin, Texas, include Emergent Space Technologies, Deep Space Industries, New Worlds Institute, and Fathom Academy.
But why should space exploration need restarting? Because progress continues to be slow, programs cost too much, spaceflight risks lives and treasure, and efforts return low rewards and benefit too few people. Essentially, space exploration currently is unsustainable. However, exploration and commercialization are two faces of the same enterprise. So, let’s rethink long term commercialization strategies to expand participation and benefits, building on the successes of the past while employing innovation for the future.
“Sustainability” evokes many different ideas among many different people.