Space exploration has always been deemed too expensive and difficult for private enterprise, a realm that only massive government programs could hope to enter. And now with the recent NASA Space Shuttle retirement, and thousands of displaced NASA employees wondering where the future of NASA will be, it is therefore easy for the world to paint a bleak future of space exploration. It turns out, however, that space exploration is now in the midst of an incredible transition as private enterprise is boldly taking over where big government has left off.
The seeds for this transition were planted a decade ago when a few very wealthy individuals such as Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth, and Charles Simonyi bought access to the International Space Station through Russian spacecraft to begin commercial access. As a result, we are now witnessing the birth of a new era in space exploration that is more versatile and innovative than big government space programs ever could have hoped to achieve.
Last month, SpaceX launched the Dragon on a Falcon 9 rocket, an orbital transport system capable of ferrying astronauts and rendezvousing with the International Space Station. Elon Musk’s SpaceX was the first private company to ever attempt a round trip to ISS, and their success was a big triumph for commercial spaceflight . The capsule used for low earth transport was designed by Mr. Musk’s SpaceX for future interplanetary missions to Mars. When former internet moguls – like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Charles Simonyi, and now Sergey Brin - start making space their playground and invest their money in once science fiction endeavors as space exploration and asteroid mining – there is hope for the once cash strapped industry.