Since man’s first steps on the moon, the mystery and thrill of space has filled the hearts of millions. This unbelievable innovation in exploration changed the way the world understood travel, technology and the dynamics of the solar system. This achievement also created cutting edge scientific advancements, revitalized patriotism in the United States and inspired a new generation to pursue careers in science, engineering and computer programming. Working together, the general public has spent copious amounts of time and energy devoted to the progression of space travel and the establishment of new civilizations. Space, the final frontier, should be a public enterprise.
The success of the Apollo 11 mission changed the world for the better and was made possible by NASA; the government agency responsible for science and technologies related to space and air. Today there is a new space race —one that is pushing mankind even further out into the galaxy, as well as pushing space travel to become a more affordable venture.
New goals in space exploration and innovation are being spearheaded by private companies such as Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX), business mogul Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc., and Blue Origin, owned by Amazonfounder Jeff Bezos. “Now NASA is farming out missions to private companies and other countries have joined the race — notably China and India. The moon and Mars remain tantalizing goals for many nations, as are the technological advances that space exploration can drive,” said Justin Bachman, reporter for The Washington Post on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. Companies such as SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin have created new concepts in the space race: the privatization of space and the idea that private companies will soon surpass NASA in innovation, budget-friendly success and overall advancement.
Private companies, propelled by the capitalist mindset, have allowed the industry of space to be pushed by a profit-based reward system. While capitalism is known for driving down costs and promoting efficiency that results in economic gain, the idea of privatizing space is not one that many people favor. Much like public lands, I believe that space should remain public. Currently, NASA is keeping a tight leash when it comes to certifying private spaceflight companies to carry their astronauts. As of today, SpaceX is the only private company to have received this certification. In the next few years, the industry of space is projected to exceed even our wildest dreams. The technological advancements alone could transform the world we live in today, for the better. These innovations should not be privatized.
“Private-sector activity in space travel is accelerating dramatically—rocketing, one might say. For decades, ever since people first headed for orbit in the 1960s, spaceflight had been mostly the preserve of governments,” said Clive Thompson in a Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020 article for The New Republic. Although private companies have contributed immensely to the technology of spaceflight advancements in the last several years, we should be careful when considering the future of space travel and infrastructure. NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration should keep an observant eye on the outward momentum of privatization. The possibility of a monopoly on space travel or even on new civilizations is, unfortunately, not too alien to imagine.