Do We Really Want Greedy Corporations in Space?

Space-X Falcon 9 liftoff
Space-X Falcon 9 liftoff
Falcon 9 booster landing attempt
Falcon 9 booster landing attempt
United Launch Alliance launch
United Launch Alliance launch

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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5 comments

twayneking profile image

twayneking 18 months ago from Puyallup, WA Author

Some of the commenters on the original thread talk as though making money is a bad thing. Making money is how we all survive. Even in completely communist states where theoretically nobody owns anything and all your needs are taken care of. You still have to earn a living only someone else (the government) take all your money and gives you back a tiny little bit - just enough so that you don't riot in the streets. With that money they buy weapons and soldiers to keep you from rioting in the streets so they can give you back a little less and pay for more soldiers and dachas for the dear leaders. Soon everyone is miserable (except the dear leaders) and the economy is a disaster and people are being marched off to the gulags by the million and you can't buy a pair of shoes that fit you.

I get it. In a free market economy, some people are greedy. You want a role for government? Let them punish those who cheat in the free market - the price fixers, the inside traders, the pyramid schemers. The problem with collectivism is that the system punishes everybody to prevent the sinning of a few. And the free market cheaters could never get away with it without the complicity of the government, which those who want to "fix" free market capitalism want to make bigger and stronger. That's like feeding the crocodile hoping it will eat you last!


twayneking profile image

twayneking 18 months ago from Puyallup, WA Author

Space is very large. I think there's room.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 18 months ago from North America

@Science Works, in my workforce and career writing, I am finding those partnerships of which you speak. I really want the private-public space program to work!


Science Works 18 months ago

The language of "greedy corporations" is problematic. What we want in space is partnerships of the public and private sectors who are focused on space science, space exploration; focused on the continuation of the multifaceted efforts of education, defense, research, progress, etc. that were once led by the government but most certainly achieved by a public and private sector---including corporate, cooperation.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 18 months ago from North America

Thanks for this Hub. I like SpaceX as a company that seems to promote space exploration and money-making projects in space honestly. I hope that continues.

I also like Planetary Resources, because they used crowd funding to place hundreds of telescopes in space that everyone can access soon, for free. We'll be able to see what's going on "out there" on our computers. Kids' school projects on space will be more interesting and educational as well as fun. As for profit, P.R. has begun to mine pieces of asteroids as they near Earth for iron and other elements, but plan to go to the Asteroid Belt soon. I don't see greed there, even though people from Google started the company with James Cameron and similar and Branson from Virgin Galactic joined. I do so hope more good companies go to space. Ohio has 1200+ of them - it's going to be crowded somewhat.

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