Private Space Travel: A New Era Begins?
Some NASA supporters are mourning what they see as the decline of U.S. leadership in space. But they should really be celebrating the dawn of a new era. After all, we’ve been stuck in low Earth orbit for several decades now, at considerable cost. Visionary plans for genuine space exploration have gathered dust at NASA, the National Research Council and other space-savvy places. They advocate relearning how to land on the moon or figuring out how to travel to Mars, an asteroid or the special orbital location where the James Webb Space Telescope will eventually operate. But after more than two decades of talking that talk, the U.S. has yet to walk that walk.
Turning over routine space trucking to private industry has important benefits. It frees NASA to innovate and to develop a new heavy-lift capability commensurate with real space exploration. At the same time, it empowers private industry to play a significant role in the nation’s space future.