After watching the last scheduled launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery earlier today, I thought it would be good to post a piece on the role of government and private industry for space related efforts. The shuttle is in its last days, NASA’s budget is under scrutiny, and there is an emerging effort to expand the space industry.
I included a book excerpt via link below to a pdf titled “Competitive Private Enterprise.” It was penned by former Chairman of General Electric Ralph Cordiner which is a great lesson on how free markets could work in space related commerce. Although it was published in 1961, I found his chapter a reminder on how the free market could work and the government’s role (especially in the area of R&D) in space related activities.
It might not be common knowledge There’s probably been more progress made in the private space enterprise in the past year or so then in the last 40+ years. This progress is due in part to privately funded groups like Masten Space Systems, SpaceX, XCOR Aerospace, The Spaceship Company, Virgin Galactic, Armadillo Aerospace, and others.
We might not have space hotels, expansive space tourism, lunar colonies, orbital factories yet. However, the above listed companies and others are making considerable efforts that will lead the way so that more of our individual and collective dreams become reality.
I wish the Space Shuttle Discovery and her crew a safe voyage and return the greatest spaceship I currently know of, planet Earth.
There’s also video of Discovery’s final launch copied below.