Essay on The Future of Spaceflight and Why It Should Be Private

Essay on The Future of Spaceflight and Why It Should Be Private

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High above our beloved watery globe, on the shore of the cosmic ocean, a winged spacecraft approaches a gigantesque space station pirouetting in the vast dark. The pilots of this vessel make use of flat-screen computer displays to match their rotation with that of the massive orbital outpost. As the shuttle spins, a logo of the world's largest airline, emblazoned on its side, comes into view.
This is not the present, but it was to be the past. A scene from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 science-fiction epic, 2001 A Space Odyssey, it was lauded at the time for its realistic portrayal of a human future in space (*1).
Now, ten years after this future failed to manifest, spaceflight is still a privilege reserved only for the most powerful governments of Earth. There has been no successful attempt to change this fact; to date, no human being who did not hitch a ride with a national space organization has ever orbited the planet. There is a dirty laundry list of reasons why this is so but above all, it boils down to cost. The monetary price associated spaceflight is so great that for decades, the only organizations willing to take the plunge were powerful governments with money to spare and political footballs to spike (*2). In fact, only three of the world's governments have ever launched a man into space and only two of those three, Russia and China, still maintain that capability. In early 2006 however, for the first time, with the announcement of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, the private sector turned its eyes to space. Working hand in hand, the American government and private enterprise have set about trying to dramatically reduce the cost of putting a human being into Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) and beyon...


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(10) “Space Taxi Delays Spur Bigelow Aerospace Layoffs.” Reuters.com. Reuters. Web.
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(11)“NASA Budget Plan Saves Telescope, Cuts Space Taxis.” Reuters.com. Reuters. Web.
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(12)“Doubts On Display in DC; Will Congress Abandon Private Space?” Popularmechanics.com. Popular Mechanics. Web. 26 Oct. 2011.
(13) “Space Transportation Costs: Trends in Price Per Pound to Orbit 1990-2000.” Futron.com. FUTRON Corporation. Web. 6 Sept. 2001.
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