Commercial Space Exploration

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Space. The Final Frontier. Inspiring me forever. While initially the domain of countries, space travel is now also becoming home to private companies. The article below on NASA’s proposed budget cuts to me signals that countries, the initial powers that made things happen, might withdraw even more, which is a shame really.

”And that budget keeps NASA's astrophysics funding so low over the coming years that the agency won't be able to develop another ambitious, big-ticket "flagship" observatory for the foreseeable future, experts say.” - Era of Big NASA Space Telescopes May Be Ending

Some thoughts on the article:

  1. While exploration and going to other planets has an attractive proposition for private companies, mapping out and looking at the universe has a less concrete profit looming. The countries that explored our earth, claimed territory and pillaged the riches from their ‘new found lands’ gathered quite a fortune from that. Entities making similar claims to the territories out there in space, could be driven by a similar motive which propels their business.
  2. Large scale telescopes and related technology can greatly increase our understanding of the universe and help us get our bearings out there. A profitable business model around that could be the ‘Google Maps for Space’, but since actual use by large masses is still far off, I doubt any private entity is willing to make such a long-term investment yet.
  3. The article provides some details from a US perspective and how in the past they ‘lost’ the race for ‘their’ SSC to the EU LHC. While I appreciate this perspective to be still present, ultimately we as a species would benefit more by working more together. I know, looking at how the UN or the EU sometimes work/function, we as a species are far from that utopian point. For space we managed to work together with so many countries, I think because the stakes and investments are so high, but also because we can achieve so much more working together than working apart, something that I see being pitched in the Gateway concept.

I really hope NASA is getting the proper funding it aims to secure, as it would also be a shame if so much experience and knowledge would go to waste.