Wed 17 Feb 2010
Source: Transaction Press Release
The Privatization of Space Exploration
Lewis D. Solomon
Space was at the center of America’s imagination in the 1960s. President John F. Kennedy’s visionary statement captured the sentiments of the day: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” The Apollo mission’s success in July 1969 made almost anything seem possible, but the Cold War made space flight the province of governmental agencies in the United States. When the Apollo program ended in 1972, space lost its hold on the public interest, as the great achievements wound down. Where NASA has been unsuccessful, entrepreneurs are beginning to pick up the slack—looking for safer, more reliable, and more cost effective ways of exploring space.
By unleashing entrepreneurial activity, Solomon writes, it may be possible to move the space program from the historic province of NASA and several giant aerospace firms and create a renaissance in human spaceflight. The private sector, can energize the quest for space exploration and shape the race for the final frontier. Space entrepreneurs and private sector firms have already made significant innovations in space travel. They have plans for future tourism in space and safer shuttles. Solomon details current U.S. and international laws dealing with space use, settlement, and exploration. He then offers policy recommendations to facilitate privatization.
In the first decade of the twenty-first century, private enterprise is bubbling away, threatening to change the space landscape forever. Individuals are designing spacecraft, start-up companies are testing prototypes, and reservations are being taken for suborbital space flights. With for-profit enterprises carving out a new realm, it is entirely possible that space will one day be a sea of hotels and/or a repository of resources for big business. It is important that regulations are in place for this eventuality. The Privatization of Space Exploration is likely to become the standard reference work in a new field which has great importance, huge implications, and urgency for everyone.
Lewis D. Solomon is Van Vleck Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School. A prolific author on legal, business, public policy, and religious topics, he has written widely in areas of social and scientific policy that deal with legal issues. He is an ordained rabbi and interfaith minister.