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Commercial Space Lift

Commercial Space Lift

The future of space exploration comes in three stages:

  • space lift – escaping the gravity well, whether by brute force impulse rocket or space elevator or some other means
  • space habitats – space stations, space hotels, space colonies, living environments
  • space vehicles – vehicles designed to move through space with little or no gravity have different design principles than lift vehicles

The first stage, space lift, is in the process of being transferred from the control of governmental agencies (like NASA) to private enterprise. Government funded and controlled space exploration activities were appropriate when nobody else wanted to do it and the effort was driven by long range vision, interest in pure exploration and a sense of national pride.

But the future of space will be motivated by profit and eventually by a vision of personal freedom that will bring a wave of emigration from Earth to space. Once we get past the initially huge expense of the space lift stage, the possibility for profit will open up and accelerate the process.

Start-up enterprise: Launching the new space race – [newscientist.com]

Two big changes are driving the space industry in this direction. The first is the impending end of the space shuttle era, with the last flight due some time in the next nine months. The second, and possibly more significant one, is the huge cost-cutting exercise under way in the US. Earlier this year President Barack Obama proposed cancelling the funding for NASA’s $97 billion Constellation programme, which aimed to return humans to the moon. In its place, a relatively meagre $6 billion will be funnelled into speeding up the commercial development of new launchers and spacecraft that will take over where the shuttle leaves off.

Space Companies:
SpaceDev
SPACEX
BIGELOW AEROSPACE
Orbital
Scorpius
BOEING – Space Exploration Division
L5 Development Group

SEE ALSO:
Space Vehicles
Propulsion
Space Transport
Space Elevator
Drexler Spacesuit
Economics in Space

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