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Space Exploration: Government versus Big Business

To this day, I am still surprised that there is a debate if space exploration should migrate from government programs to corporations.

For a long time, companies have been successfully launching unmanned satellites into orbit. These companies even do this as safely as government programs and for a profit too. Previously, governments had a monopoly on this business; and now, companies are driving down these costs for consumers. So this leads to the question as to why governments should be the sole benefactors of their space programs? Having businesses compete improves the options and innovativeness, while at the same time decreases the cost for consumers. Furthermore, opening up space travel to the public has sparked a whole new industry that has generated thousands of high paying jobs.

Currently, some governments are selling tickets for tourism into space. Russia will even let tourists visit the International Space Station. Several companies throughout the world are rushing to make this affordable and profitable too. At first, these trips into space will be into low orbit for short periods of time. There are even prototypes that are already accomplishing this. But very soon, prolonged journeys in geosynchronous orbit will even allow hotels in space. With the affordability of space travel decreasing, it will soon be possible to open even more profitable businesses that have never existed before such as space tourism. And opening space to the public has enabled companies to create new and innovative business plans and even more high paying jobs.

On the other hand, what governments should continue doing are space missions that are not profitable, such as the scientific research and space exploration, since businesses are not interested in non-profitable endeavors. Instead, this allows corporations to concentrate on profitable endeavors. Eventually, this could one day possibly allow corporations to surpass governments in other avenues of space travel such as colonization of space.

I believe that the purpose for governments is to start experimental and risky advancements in science and research. Thus, governments would hopefully and eventually hand off these tasks to businesses once these processes and technologies have become standardized and profitable.

by Phil for Humanity
on 10/04/2007

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