The Space Race is on.
It was 5 decades ago when humanity went to the moon. Since that time, in spite of the Shuttle program in the United States, interest in space waned. This was at least from the human perspective. Certainly, our satellite systems exploded during that period.
Today, there is a lot of renewed interest in the potential of space. This is led, not by governments like in the past, but private corporations. SpaceX and Blue Origin are two of the leading companies.
We must look at this entire sector on a cost basis. Presently, it costs roughly $80 million to send an individual into space. This is something that companies cannot afford to do.
However, what if that price dropped to $800K? Or how about $100K? How would this change the outlook?
While these numbers can seem out of reach, we need to look at the cost trends over the past few decades. The price of computational power is plummeted from where it was a few years ago. By the same token, solar costs have dropped a great deal over the last 20 years.
Jeff Bezos wants to send up two rockets per week. That would equate to 100 per year. This is pretty stunning is the fact there are less than 100 launches per year in totality. So why is Blue Origin looking at such an aggressive schedule?
We see a bit of the chicken or the egg. The costs of space travel will only drop with enough passengers to scale up. At the same time, there needs to be enough flights to motivate passengers to sign up for space travel.
In other words, there is a lot of work left to be done.
However, when analyzing things against the time line of a couple decades, we could see things changing a great deal. After all, companies often spend thousands of dollars shipping their employees all over the globe. Low Earth flights could be a means of replacing the far slower air travel.
We also need to look at space for future expansion for humanity. For example, space manufacturing provides the ideal environment for certain operations due to the zero gravity atmosphere. Of course, medical and other research long was aided by experiments conducted in space.
The key over the next decade plus is going to be creating the space infrastructure to advance humanity to greater heights in the ensuing decades. Just like the interstate highway system in the 1950s or the Internet in the 1990s, thousand of different companies will be involved in the development of all facets of the ecosystem. This will forge many new industries going forward.
It is interesting to think that, at a time, when we are seeing humanity start the process of delving into the immersive virtual world, another one is being opened up with space. We are going to see new civilizations established in space just like "new worlds" we settled a few decades back on Earth.
For those young enough, the next 50 years will see the settlement of space to some degree.
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