Do We Really Want Greedy Corporations in Space?
Should people be able to go to space without permission?
To answer the question simply, "Yup!" We shouldn't fear private industry in space. If I'm betting on who wants to put nuclear weapons or some other naughty instrument of mass destruction into orbit, I'm betting it's the Air Force General who's more likely to do that than the private space entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs want to make money. You don't make money by killing your customers. Dead people don't buy things, so there's a strong disincentive to get up to inter-planetary mischief. Governments, on the other hand, do that all the time and have throughout history. They conquer and take from those they conquer. You can take the property of dead people, so governments are highly motivated to be naughty.
The United States, historically, has been strong because of the independence of the private sector. Opportunity, freedom and free markets have long been more important to Americans than power and control. We do not fear success. In fact, most of us want a little of it for ourselves, so we don't fear rich people as people do in other countries. Most Americans want to become part of the filthy rich themselves some day. We live in hope that one day we might be a member of the upper classes.
There are some evil rich folks out there no doubt. No American kids himself that the wealthy don't have some bad eggs in the bunch. These folk traditionally protect their wealth and maintain their power by buying protection from the government.
Laws won't help to redistribute wealth. The wealthy pay for loopholes to be built into any new laws designed to redistribute their wealth. The greedy rich get to keep their money and politicians win votes from the gullible who think they are going to get some of that redistributed money and they get campaign money from the wealthy for including the loopholes. Remember, Politicians can afford teams of tax accountants. Most of us regular folk can't.
If the minimum wage is too low for you - go to school and get better jobs. If people aren't willfully ignorant and unskilled, employers will have to pay more if people are educated. it's that simple. Jacking up the minimum wage only encourages kids to become dropouts. A $15 minimum wage sounds great if you're a stupid kid with a head full of mush and lots more fun than studying. The whole minimum wage debate is part of the smoke and mirrors, look here but don't look there sleight of hand politics that keeps corrupt and incompetent politicians in office for decades at a time.
You cannot improve society by passing laws. You improve society by increasing opportunity and by creating a culture that values creativity, energy and brains. You improve society by valuing individual freedom over the will of the collective.
You want space to be a safer place? Give private entrepreneurs the chance to make money in space. Companies making money in space will NOT want to have governments making war there. War is bad for business. Yes I know about the Military/Industrial complex. That is an artifact of GOVERNMENT collusion with massive corporations, not a consequence of free market enterprise.
Generals and despots don't want anyone in space who could potentially see what they are up to. It's little wonder they aren't terribly happy with civilians playing on what they see as their turf. Space is the ultimate military high ground and the military doesn't want anyone else there who could spill the beans if the military starts placing artillery in orbit to subdue "the people". Ever notice that the most oppressive governments on the planet call themselves "The People's Republic", "The Democratic People's Republic" or "The People's Socialist Republic" or the "People's Democratic Socialist Republic" or some variation on that theme? These "People's" nations traditionally have some sort of dictator or dear leader running things and "the people" have practically no freedom at all. Probably the worst thing we could have is space dominated by "The People's Space Program".
Trust me Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are not a nuclear threat. At worst the greedy space entrepreneur may set up a couple of competing Space Hotels that most of us can't afford except maybe someday through Priceline.com. So what?
In America, few of us see ourselves as poor. Most of us, truth be told, see ourselves as temporarily embarrassed rich people. We'd like to think we might some day go to space ourselves and stay in one of those inflatable hotels Bigelow Aerospace (a private company) has already orbited to see if they'll hold up well enough so that, when Space-X is launching Dragon crew vessels two or three times a month, we might be able to afford a ride. Certainly, the government or the military isn't going to give us that opportunity!
I still would like to go to space someday. It's becoming increasingly unlikely that this will ever happen, but would very much like to see space become reachable by ordinary people. That ain't gonna happen if the Air Force General in the movie, Aloha, has his way.
Estimated launch costs.
Cost to Launch a Space Vehicle:
European Space Agency - $136 million
Russian Space Agency - $100-120 million
Chinese Space Agency - $70 million
NASA/United Launch Alliance- $160 - 380 million
Space X - $56.5 million
Orbital Science - $200 million (cost of Antares rocket that exploded)
It should be noted that Space X uses their own American built rockets. ULA and Orbital use either Russian boosters that are a 30 year old design or old NASA Atlas rockets. The new NASA Orion space capsule is based roughly on Apollo technology - nothing new there and the program costs vastly more than any of the private ventures. Space X launches for less and carries more cargo than most launch vehicles available right now - even private sector launches. Everybody's playing catch-up to the new guy, and he has made a technological leap with the company's new advanced rocket and spacecraft designs. And others are nipping at his heels.
Without free-market entrepreneurs, there wouldn't be nearly the energy in the space technology field that there is right now. The benefits far outweigh some screen-writer's notion that space entrepreneur's might weaponize space. That's far more likely to be something some government does.
* These are rough estimates from a variety of sources. Most Space Agencies don't publish their launch prices and for good reason. Space-X kind of brags about it (also with good reason).
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