The Beginning of the Space Age

The NSS (National Space Society) blog article linked below references an article in “The Economist” which claims the age of space exploration is largely over. The Economist could not be more wrong. It would be like saying the aviation age was over when the Wright brothers packed up their equipment at Kitty Hawk and went home to Ohio after their first flights. The space age is just barely at the beginning. Within twenty years, a great migration of humanity out into space will have begun and that will be marked in history as the true beginning of the space age.

Five Reasons Why the Space Age Is Just Beginning. And This Time It’s for Real. – [nss.org]

Recently The Economist magazine featured a piece inspired by the end of the Shuttle Era entitled, “The end of the Space Age. Inner space is useful. Outer space is history.”

The Economist is wrong. The space age is not ending. It is just beginning. And it is taking off fast. Its next giant leaps will change the nature of resources, energy, jobs, and the economy. The leap will make your grandkids lives so different from yours and mine that it will defy belief.

But this time, the future is not driven by NASA, it’s propelled by private enterprise. The players are small companies. But what they lack in fame, they more than make up for in spirit…and in smarts.

Below are five companies working diligently to bring humanity closer to the dream of permanent settlement in space.

The end of the Space Age – [economist.com]
Inner space is useful. Outer space is history

No bucks, no Buck Rogers

With luck, robotic exploration of the solar system will continue. But even there, the risk is of diminishing returns. Every planet has now been visited, and every planet with a solid surface bar Mercury has been landed on. Asteroids, moons and comets have all been added to the stamp album. Unless life turns up on Mars, or somewhere even more unexpected, public interest in the whole thing is likely to wane. And it is the public that pays for it all.

The future, then, looks bounded by that new outer limit of planet Earth, the geostationary orbit. Within it, the buzz of activity will continue to grow and fill the vacuum. This part of space will be tamed by humanity, as the species has tamed so many wildernesses in the past. Outside it, though, the vacuum will remain empty. There may be occasional forays, just as men sometimes leave their huddled research bases in Antarctica to scuttle briefly across the ice cap before returning, for warmth, food and company, to base. But humanity’s dreams of a future beyond that final frontier have, largely, faded.

SEE ALSO:
Fortunes in Space
Stepping Stones to Space
Printing Space Habitats

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